New Beginning has transformed the lives of many young people leaving institutional care.
Tens of thousands of children throughout Ukraine are abandoned to orphanages. Parents give up their children for many different reasons, including poverty, incarceration, and problems with alcoholism.
The vast majority of children living in orphanages have some sort of special need or disability. Most children living in the care of the state are “social orphans” meaning they have one or more living parents. They lead lives lacking in love and support and are all too often subject to abuse and violence.
In Mukachevo, western Ukraine, the plight of many social orphans is worse as there is a high proportion who are from Roma families. Abandoned by their families to state care, and then again when they leave care as they are no longer pure Roma - and abandoned by the rest of society because they have Roma families.
The young people are emotionally, spiritually and socially traumatised having had years of institutional care and/or abuse at home. New Beginning strengthens self-image and encourages social integration. Only 10% of orphans leaving institutions enter society in a fulfilling and developing way. In contrast, ALL of the New Beginning "graduates" go on to lead fully independent lives including employment, accommodation and starting their own families. Recently, 10 girls "graduated" from the New Beginning programme: 7 have full-time employment, 1 is studying at college and 2 are at university training to be primary school teachers.
Ibolya's mother was just 14 when she gave birth. Unable to cope she fled the hospital and for all her life Ibolya has known just state institutional care. She has now entered the local Technical School and has been fortunate to join the New Beginning programme. She is learning how to care and be cared for and is being prepared for a full adult life. She says:
I feel I am being loved and accepted here and being taught life skills to be accepted. It means so much to me.
I can speak properly now – I am not aggressive, I don’t swear and can use better words. I can eat properly as well and not like an animal. I also love reading books now.
Stella does not know her exact age - nor her family name. One morning her mother just walked out of the family never to return. At about 7, she went to live with a man who fed her in exchange for work. Soon she was living and begging on the streets. New Beginning found her, at about 11, and helped her to safety and gave her food and clothes. They have encouraged her in education and she is now ready to start a new life with a job and live independently.
New Beginning offers teenage orphans in the local Technical School hope and opportunity. They enter a 2-3 year life-changing programme which involves:
The consequences are that they are prevented from encountering the problems so often confronted on leaving care; they are equipped to be responsible, confident and active members of society; assisted in securing a quality education and job-related skills; and above all, they are encouraged (but not forced) to give back to others in need and to become secure in the love of Christ.
ChildAid has recently built a foster home in Mukachevo. Find out more >>
For a profile on the country we suggest the BBC website on Ukraine