Just 1 in 10 will find work
An agricultural college near Ryazan is currently home to thirty-five orphans (age 15 years +) who’ve been placed here post-orphanage; children who were long ago labelled as ‘non-achievers’. They live in this vast crumbling building with dark, sprawling, neglected corridors and ill-equipped classrooms. As a learning environment, it is depressing. The rest of the village contains no shops, public parks or community centres - only some dilapidated homes and a bus stop. By day, they learn the basics of farming; skills that 90% of them are unlikely to put into practice. By night, a single bed with an old blanket and pillow in a shared dormitory is home. Most have only a couple of possessions; those we met who had the most were two sisters who between them filled one small shelf.
It’s not surprising that only 1 in 10 of them will look for and find a job after leaving here. They are institutionalised; no self-belief or self-worth have been instilled in them by a loving family…. why would they look for anything better when no-one has told them they are worth bothering with? Here, there’s a desperate need for someone to believe in them, to offer a way out of poverty and low expectations that so often lead to addictions, crime and even suicide.
These young people may not be homeless and hungry yet, but they are starved of the tools they will need to survive in a year or two from now. Chances are, hunger and homelessness will befall them eventually.
What can be done? We know that teaching young people life skills like shopping, cooking, self-care, simple budgeting and having a goal to aim for is important. But, in addition to this, they need a friend in the outside world who takes an interest in them and offers support. This can make the biggest difference of all and is the role of a Love Russia Mentor. Slava has recently begun a series of sessions teaching and preparing these kids for independence. Most crucially he is building relationships with them and identifying those who will soon need his support adjusting to life outside the shelter of this college. The needs:
Funding to support the continued teaching from a mentor (transport, resources and blessing for the time and preparation this takes)
Funding for gifts for the young people who have hardly anything of their own (toiletries, underwear etc)
Prayer, that this group of vulnerable youth will grow in the knowledge that God wants them to have an abundant life including freedom, choices, responsibilities and love.