The Pandemic & Katya’s Education
Education is already a challenge for orphan students. The pandemic made it harder.
The lives of orphan students were totally upended by quarantine: all but about 40 were sent away from Zhytomyr in the spring, often home to families where they’d been mistreated.
It’s distressing that they’re so far away from our care. But we’re mentoring the remaining students more deeply, and stretching to connect personally with each student who was sent away.
Katya said she went into state care because her mother suffered from schizophrenia, and didn’t let Katya out of the house during 8th grade – even for school. She struggled to make friends at the orphanage schools and trade school.
Then, quarantine nearly ended Katya’s education. She moved to a village with her much-older boyfriend and his parents, who all drink heavily. Soon Katya told us she was pregnant.
Staff member Lena talked with her often, and Katya said she was her only friend. When she finally visited Zhytomyr, we consulted with Mission to Ukraine and discovered she wasn’t pregnant after all. Perhaps she was just trying to avoid school, where she felt so alone.
She’d also lost weight, was dressed out of season, and her mask was grimy. So we replaced her worn-out wardrobe and shoes and brought her bedding, a hygiene kit, and groceries. We also coached her through job-hunting, working through her fear of strangers.
Recently we’ve partnered with a new lawyer who will present a case on Katya’s housing situation in court. If she has a place to live, she won’t be dependent on her boyfriend, and she’ll have stability during the next phase of her life.
Katya had tried to quit school many times before. But thanks to an intervention from the school, and the loving support of our staff, she stayed in the dorm for the summer and plans to live in Zhytomyr after graduation, where we can help her. Praise God!