Ministry launches program to help orphans aging out of the system

By May 27, 2009

Russia (MNN/ORO) — Russia has over 700,000 orphans with
roughly 25% of them housed. A Russian orphan ages out of the system at age 15 or
16. They're usually sent back to the streets with very little, and they're scared
to death. Only one out of 10 orphans will make it to their 21st birthday.  

Amy Norton with Orphan Outreach says, "They generally end
up in crime, certainly on the street, desperate for some way to make a
living." 

In April Mike Douris,  president of Orphan Outreach, and Amy Norton, director
of programs, spoke with the 21 graduates of #60 orphanage in St. Petersburg.
They discovered that many of the teens didn't even know how much it would cost
to buy bread. Norton said many planned on "surviving on bread and water."

Norton says they are simply not equipped for adult
life. "They just have little
chance for a successful opportunity to start a family, to be able to get a job,
to be able to even have food. Our sense
of urgency for these kids is to be able to get a Christian social worker who
would walk alongside them, support them, and help them with that
transition." 

In Tomachova, Orphan Outreach launched a transition program
at an orphanage in the Leningrad Region. Orphan Outreach hired a Christian caseworker to
mentor the kids through a somewhat treacherous rite of passage. "Our goal is to have a successful model that
begins with these kids' years before they graduate and supports them through a
successful, hopeful, independent life. Then we hope that we can expand
this model to other orphanages," Norton said. 

Orphan Outreach is also partnering with the Leningrad Committee of
Education, who oversees the orphanages and technical schools in the region, to
provide this program to the graduates. Though the government must take care of their
wards with government-subsidized apartments, and pay the tuition to either
vocational school or university, the privilege is accompanied by mountains of
paperwork.

Without help, many are defeated by the hurdles they have to
leap over and just give up. Caseworkers
will not only help teens to complete the necessary paperwork but also track
their progress and help them with the issues they face once in the programs. 

Orphan Outreach says they are committed to helping the 12 graduates
succeed, but a critical issue is keeping the hope of Christ in front of them. "As they leave, they will be facing
probably the hardest decisions and issues they've ever had to face in their
lives. We really need to provide continued support after they leave, and that's
where the church body in Russia is going to be so important, to come alongside
them." 

Norton says, "Our goal is to have an evangelical Christian
social worker because these kids feel no hope.
It is important that these kids, as they walk through this transition, are
counseled well." In order to involve
partners in the faith community, Orphan Outreach is meeting with youth pastors
and pastors so that the local church mentors spiritually support and pray
with these graduates. 

This is a new ministry and needs both prayer and financial
support. Click here if you can help.

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