The Faces of Last Bell’s Future, Part I
These are the last two blogs in our 10th Anniversary series – thank you for reading, and taking this journey through the years with us!
We’ve shared several blogs celebrating the stories of several young people we met in the early years of Last Bell. Now it’s time to meet the young people we’re just getting to know. Zhenya and Masha are young, beautiful souls, beginning to heal from the trauma of their past and look to the future. Their energetic service to those around them is changing the landscape of Zhytomyr!
Zhenya’s story begins like many other orphans’. When he was about seven, his father died. His mother was an alcoholic, and he and his sisters spent a lot of time in the streets. Social services visited several times. Late at night after a town holiday, the kids were wandering around without adults, and the police picked them up. Ten-year-old Zhenya and his sisters were taken to a shelter, then to Orphanage #4, where most of Last Bell’s youth grew up.
Zhenya, a young man with unlimited potential, made in God’s image.
Zhenya later continued his studies at Gryshkovtsy orphanage near Berdichev, then entered Trade School #5. He’s currently in his last year studying bricklaying, oven-building, and plastering. After trade school, he wants to attend the construction college.
Our Educational Outreach team first got to know Zhenya in 2014 when they were teaching life skills at his trade school, and we began helping him with his laundry (a service many of our young people need). Then we found out he’d been saving up money for braces and helped him find a good dentist.
Zhenya in the midst of his loving Last Bell community – the Last Bell staff, and his friends.
Zhenya became a Christian, and now goes to church and attends a small group. He’s in touch with his family as much as he can be; he visits his mom (who has two children living with her). One of Zhenya’s sisters lives in a foster home in Zhytomyr. This summer, he gave his time and energy serving other orphans at a Christian camp – one he used to attend as a kid!
Helping out at camp.
Zhenya turned nineteen in November. We celebrated his birthday at the Support Center with the staff and his friends. It’s a priority to celebrate our young people’s birthdays because it sends an important message about their uniqueness and value.
At nineteen, Zhenya is just getting started. We look forward to walking beside him as he continues blessing the people around him far into the future!
Watch for our story about Masha in Part II, tomorrow!
Like many other young men his age, Zhenya brings a spirit of playfulness when he’s giving back!