Facing sexual trauma with orphanage graduates
Last Bell staff members deepen their understanding of sexual violence
For many reasons, including privacy, we don’t share stories of sexual violence with our supporters. So this newsletter won’t mention names or details. But we do hear those stories, and we grieve when we learn that one of our youth has been sexually abused.
At the end of October, we hosted the Child Rescue Service for a training on how to teach children and youth about sexual violence. Yulia S. and Oksana had attended one of their trainings a few weeks prior, and were so impressed that we invited them to Zhytomyr.
Yulia is a former orphan herself, so she’s experienced orphanage life firsthand. Even so, she was surprised by everything she learned in these trainings. “I couldn’t even have imagined how widespread the problem of sexual violence is in our country,” she said. And children in orphanages and foster families are even more likely to be abused in this way.
The information from Child Rescue Service was incredibly helpful, Yulia said. Children in orphanages and trade schools often don’t have a reference point for what kinds of relationships are normal. They don’t know how to protect themselves, or who to talk to when they need help. The training offered lesson plans to cover all these difficult topics with our youth. Most of our staff attended, but we also invited our friends from local churches who’ve been visiting vulnerable children in their homes.
2020 was a difficult year to gather, but even so this was not the only training our staff attended. Last Bell’s mission requires us to stay humble and keep learning. Orphans’ history and situations are complex, and we’re grateful for the wisdom God offers us through our partners and their unique professions and expertise.
Two weeks ago, the woman who taught the first training (in front of the group below) died from COVID-19. It’s a loss for her family and friends, but also for Child Rescue Service and those they serve. Please pray for God’s safe keeping of all the teachers and trainers in our region whose experience is irreplaceable!