Two Christian groups partner to reach out to Russian orphans.

By February 27, 2004

Russia (MNN)–It’s not every day a Russian orphanage receives a new children’s gym. But, that’s a reality for the Kotlas Baby Home in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region. “Friends of Russian Orphans,” or “FORO”, financed the new gym–FORO co-founder Lisa Wurster says it’s part of their mission.

“The purpose of ‘Friends Of Russian Orphans’ is to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to Russian orphans and their caregivers through practical assistance and friendship programs. Really, what we’re trying to do is provide both material and spiritual assistance to the thousands of children that remain in the orphanages that aren’t going to be adopted.”

Parents Lisa and Phillip Wurster founded the organization after they adopted their son, Peter, from the same Kotlas baby home. “We were given a tremendous gift from the Russian people when we were allowed to adopt our son,” says Lisa. “FORO is a way of expressing gratitude for this priceless gift.”

The statistics for orphans in Russia are grim: in 2000, there were a staggering 700,000 orphans reported. Thirty to forty percent of these children come from alcoholic families. And after leaving the orphanages at age 16 or 17, 50% fall into a high risk category: 40% become drug users, 40% commit crimes, and 10% commit suicide. Only 4% are admitted to universities.

Fortunately, FORO hopes to improve the lives of these orphans through material and spiritual assistance. Over its 18-month existence, the organization has provided significant aid to eight different orphanages, including seven in the Arkhangelsk region.

FORO works to meet material needs at the orphanages by funding the purchase of items orphanage officials identify, and through an “Adopt-a-Room” project that aims at upgrading the children’s living quarters.

Other spiritual and friendship efforts include a pen-pal program between US and Russian children. The “Buy-A-Bike” program successfully supplied bicycles and tricycles to a number of orphanages. Other efforts focus on providing sports equipment, musical instruments, Bibles, and vehicles to transport children to medical appointments.

Wurster says FORO partners with Adoption Associates in the region. “We thought it would just be a natural fit that the people that are working with AAI through the adoption process might ultimately be interested in providing some sort of ongoing assistance to the children that remain in the orphanages. We are the mechanism by which that can happen.”

AAI is also working with FORO to help raise funds for these orphanages, believing individuals and corporations will contribute when they see the need.

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