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At the end of February 2013 we managed to visit an orphanage in Poltavka village (Gulyaypolsky district) in the most remote part of Zaporozhye region. Once upon a time over 200 orphans lived here but at the beginning of 2000s it closed down to be refurbished, never to open again. The study and bedroom quarters had plastic windows installed throughout, also the installation of the plasterboard walls has commenced at the bedroom block.
It’s counterintuitive but the other more promising (and functioning!) orphanages haven’t had all their windows replaced yet.
A couple of years ago all the work halted. Several million hryvnyas are required to complete the overhaul. The bedroom block is nearer completion but the study quarters are crumbling away and require enormous investment.
There are fewer orphans in Zaporozhye region these days, so some orphanages are not full and some are under the threat of closing down. Poltavka orphanage has become an orphan itself.
The orphanage still employs a director, driver and several maintenance workers; the coal boiler is switched on occasionally to heat several administrative rooms and prevent damp. So, even though the orphanage is not operational, it’s costing government money, at least one 100,000 hryvnyas (approximately 12,255 US dollars) per annum.
There were suggestions to convert the complex into a nursing home or psychoneurological orphanage but, from the point of view of the Department of Labour and Social Policy, it’s not financially viable to create such an establishment from scratch in a remote.
As well as study and bedroom quarters, the orphanage includes a canteen and bath & clothing unit. The baths are new, they have been constructed at the beginning of 2000s near the boiler. Theoretically it could house a residential project akin to the “Happy Child” in Kalinovka catering for patients with psychoneurological conditions.
Inside the bedroom quarters, first floor
Inside the study quarters
Remains of the playground
We are publishing this article in order to try and find an organisation or a government body that would suggest the new purpose for the ex-orphanage to the local authorities. Without intervention in a few years’ time the buildings would have to be torn down to recover the building materials.
Even if the ground floor alone is refurbished, it could be used as a rehabilitation centre for drug and alcohol addicts. Alternatively, the building could be used to house orphans who reach adulthood but then employment must be found for them, too. Finding a job is a serious problem in Poltavka, there is no job for locals.
As the number of orphans in the region goes down and more of them are adopted, the issue of orphanages closure or conversion will become more critical. The urban establishments are easier to deal with but authorities and the community should start worrying about the remote orphanages’ future right now.
If you can offer a practical solution to this problem, please contact the Fund's employees or the Department for Residential Care of Zaporozhye Region Tel. +38 (061) 239 04 36