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Dear donors, stop “feeding” orphanages, please!

March 22, 2011, 21:00 6249 Author: Alexander Khvostenko, translated by Darina Sukach www.deti.zp.ua The author of this article Alexander Khvostenko is an orphanage graduate, a foster-father honoured with “Conscientious Parenthood”. Although this article was written in 2009, it is still relevant today.

The author of this article Alexander Khvostenko is an orphanage graduate, a foster-father honoured with “Conscientious Parenthood”. Although this article was written in 2009, it is still relevant today.

It is not a secret today that the orphanhood issue exceeds all possible norms in our country.

In 2007, the number of orphans or children deprived of parental care in Ukraine reached 102,924. Needless to say, many younger children are still staying in hospitals, boarding schools, and orphan asylums etc.! Unfortunately this figure doesn’t accurately reflect the real state of things. Even after acknowledging this statistic, one can still hardly imagine the scale of this problem. Instead of relieving this “illness” of society, the number of orphans is constantly increasing each year.

Why does it happen? It is well known that the orphan support programs are one of the most popular church missions today. The Ukrainian orphans are widely supported: various business corporations designate approximately UAH 100,000 of what they donate to orphanages; movie and pop stars bring orphans a huge pile of presents on holidays; some Ukrainian politicians run their election campaigns based on the “orphan support”; thanks to Ukrainian and foreign donors orphanage buildings are getting renovated etc.

Why then with such active “kind support” is the number of orphans and orphanage institutions not decreasing? The answer is really simple. Why should one close what is so well financed? It’s rather obvious that many organizations and individuals turn charity into business. A few years ago the cable TV channel TBN made public in great detail the reality of Ukrainian orphanages. According to TBN 70% of the boys who graduate from orphanages get involved in criminal activities, 60% of the girls become prostitutes, 10% of the young people commit suicide and just 28% of the graduates manage to remain at work or an educational institution for a year.

Although the aforementioned statistics are not official, I personally don’t doubt them since I am myself a graduate of one of the best orphanages in Ukraine. As a child I used to get 7-10 New Year’s gifts and many New Testaments each year. Later, I received the Holy Bible while in jail and in a rehabilitation center. I spent nine years of my life living in cellars and attics without any identity documents. I got mixed up in criminal activities and what’s more I did not have any social or domestic skills. I had no moral principles. I never had any home and lived in constant lies. That’s far not the detailed list of what I had to face. However, what can one expect from a child who grows and develops isolated from society, without a mom or dad, among lonely kids just like him or herself?

Dear sponsors and donors! Your orphanage visits and presents do not help children at all! Five years after graduating from one of the best orphanages, while pursuing a better life I encountered my ten former classmates. At that moment most of them were in a worse condition than I. Some of them had already been in prison twice. Some lived in a shed even though they had their own homes. One of the guys was involved in a criminal gang and was even proud of it. Some of the girls had already become single mothers without any sufficient financial means.

If you don’t trust my words just visit soup kitchens, prisons, and the rehabilitation centers for orphans and ask service staff about how many orphan graduates they host. Talk with foster parents about what they have to endure to help a child they adopt from an orphanage or a boarding school. Many churches and charity organizations just wring their hands in dismay when it comes to helping a child of the orphanage system. No organization can solve all the problems of young orphans who are just starting to live independently. I myself would not be alive if it were not for listening to the pastor Sundays and participating in the Embassy of the God Church whose congregation has become my family.

By providing financial support to this orphanage system, we’re worsening the state of orphanhood and its consequences. After only a short time, we are helping orphanage graduates at soup kitchens, prisons and rehabilitation centers.

What then can we do? How can we really help orphans? The fact is that no boarding schools and orphanages can replace a family. No matter how often we visit orphanages and how many presents we bring to children, they will never benefit from that kind of support. Family is the only positive environment for a successful development of a child. Every child has the right to live in a family. The same is stated in the United Nations convention of the rights of the child and in the Ukrainian Constitution. No one can revoke this right from a child.

Family: it’s the only thing every orphan really needs. To help such a child you don’t have to present him or her a box of chocolate, invite him or her for a picnic or to make some renovations in an orphanage. The only thing every orphan needs is a family. Nowadays not every family can adopt a child. Nevertheless, everyone can support families who accomplished such a heroic deed. They need you. You can meet such families in your city, district and even maybe in your church. If you don’t have such families nearby, find a family who is planning to adopt an orphan and help this family make this dream come true.

If all the funds which are donated today for the development and improvement of the orphanage system were instead donated for the development of the family-type institutions, we would not have any orphans in our country.

Today the whole orphanage system is concentrated on revoking the right of children to be part of a family. And it doesn’t matter that our actions are well intended. We will have to answer for the destroyed lives that result. On behalf of children who still have no family today, I am appealing to you – come to your senses and stop playing with our lives!!!

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