Russia (MNN) — Russia's orphan
population is roughly 700,000. Of that,
about a quarter of them are in some kind of institution or working with a
group. A high population of children who are growing
up with little or no guidance from their families find themselves in impossible
circumstances as they approach adulthood. One statistic shows that on their own, one in
10 orphans will make to their 21st birthday.
The picture remains grim even for
those who are in the system. When
Russian orphans turn 15 or 16, they "age out" of the orphanage system. Too
often, they go back into the streets ill equipped to handle life on their own.
Many fall prey to prostitution or substance abuse, or both. The suicide rates are skyrocketing.
One Russian study reported that
of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year,
10 percent committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless, and
3,000 were behind bars within three years of leaving the orphanage.
Amy Norton with Orphan Outreach says
their response is to bring mentors into the lives of these young people. Their program is now four months old. "Our
goal is to have a Christian social worker who is walking alongside these kids,
helping them with a very difficult time in their life, transition into
independent life. We hope to also tie-in
the local church and get the local church supporting these kids before they
leave the orphanage, mentoring them and taking them in."
It's the difference between life
and death for many. "There are
very, very few programs that are doing anything like this. But in talking to
some of the kids who have had help, it's made a tremendous difference. It's
really the difference between them having a future and having a life that is
productive, as well as spiritual, and them truly just being lost to the
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