At risk of being forgotten. In Russia and Ukraine, and all parts of this earth, thousands of kids are living on the streets, in very poor family conditions, run-down orphanages and abandoned as babies in children's hospitals.
It began in 1991 when the former Soviet Union disbanded. Unemployment escalated, alcohol use increased and poverty overpowered families. Parents lost hope and babies were then, and continue to be, abandoned, at hospitals because the parents can no longer take care of them.
Here is how Alla Dobrynina (former Director of Dr. Haaz in Kherson) put it:
When in 1999 we started our ministry, the situation in our country and in our city was at the top of its economic crisis. Many factories and plants didn't function in our city. At that time I worked as a nurse and since 1993 I was receiving my wages not in money but in flour, old canned food and so on that was stocked in shops. Ever since the fall of the USSR the problem with the street kids started to grow. Because of the unemployment many people would involve themselves to some trading business, others would go abroad, those who were more active would open clubs, cafes and personal businesses, and some would just get always drunk. The level of theft and robbery went up. People would loose their homes. Because of the poverty people wanted to change their homes to smaller and less expensive ones. The people would become poorer and poorer, drunk parents would always fight, there was nothing to eat. But at the same time there were people who quickly were becoming richer and richer. Drunk parents would lose their custody, the children were taken to orphanages where they would escape from.
I've often asked myself a question why would they escape from orphanages? To my mind, if a child gets to an orphanage in the early age (from 1 to 7), they get accustomed and stay there. But if a teenager is sent to an orphanage, it's difficult for them.
There were children in the sewers who escaped from orphanages plus those whose parents are extremely poor, or drunkards, or where family relations are destroyed. At that time I heard the statistics about such poor children in our region (there were about 5,000) who would wander in flocks as hungry dogs and would do lots of evil. But it's 2006 now and those children have grown. As almost all of them had criminal childhood and youth, by law they could be put to prisons since they are 18. Now many of these children are in prisons, some of them have yet returned to orphanages, some died because of alcohol, some are still bums but they are grownup bums now.
The situation in the country was changing little by little. As soon as the borders were open many Christian missions started helping the orphanages and less children started to escape. Different Christian ministries as ours were doing everything they could to help such children. The police would make raids to catch the children and send them back to orphanages.
As for the situation with the street kids now, in my opinion, there not as many. The police are trying to catch them. But there are a lot of poor children left.
Editor's Note: The climate in Ukraine is evolving yet still a major problem. In other parts of Ukraine and especially in Russia, there are still kids living with poor families, some sleep or live on the streets, thousands are in poor orphanages. This is where Shepherd's Purse comes in. We are trying to help, in any way we can.