A few months ago, 21 of us gathered around a table in the village of Khutory at our Boys’ Pre-Independence Home, “Greenfield”. Outside, the air was cool and crisp, but it was warm and toasty inside. We gathered to share an “American Thanksgiving” – the Americans in the group were excited to share a delicious meal of turkey, stuffing, mac n’ cheese, pumpkin pie, and more with our Ukrainian friends.
As we sat around the table, we began to reflect on the miracle of this dinner. First off, any time Christians from different nations, cultures and languages gather to break bread together, it is always a wonderful occasion. Even though we may struggle at times to communicate through broken languages, we have an instant connection through our Heavenly Father.
Second of all, sitting around the table were teen-aged boys and girls, men and women from many different backgrounds and homes. Some were raised in rural Ukraine in a close-knit community. Others lived in various cities around the world. Some grew up in homes where they wondered where the next meal would come from. Others had never experienced extreme material poverty. Some had never known a day without the love of parents. Others had experienced the trauma of abandonment or abuse. It is truly a miracle that God brought people with such diverse, distinct life experiences and upbringings together around one table.
Finally, as we sat around the table, many of us marveled at the miraculous way that God literally created the roof over our heads – the Pre-Independence Home, or “Greenfield”. The idea for this particular home began over 5 years ago. It began with Svieta, who donated her earnings from being a hairdresser to buy the property and foundation of the home, after she came on a visit with Hope Now to Shpola Orphanage. She saw and understood the immediate need for safe, Christian housing for teenage boys aging out of the orphanage system. Since that time, through the prayers of many faithful warriors, donations of several generous partners and the work of our powerful Father, the home came to reality.
Last year, we wrote an article describing the plight of orphan graduates after they leave the orphanage. We hoped this Pre-Independence Home would be a safe haven for these often-forgotten teenagers. Our prayer for the home was that it would house 10-12 male graduates as they learn and develop necessary skills to lead independent lives while continuing their education at a local trade school or college. Our goal was to surround these teens with Christian mentors and house parents as they learn to live responsibly, before they head out into the world as young adults.
These big dreams have become (in part) a reality, as “Greenfield” is currently home to four boys – Vlad, Dima, Maxim, and Zhenya - all of whom are orphan graduates. (Dima is one of the Pikuyev children – God answers prayers!). All four boys either work or attend trade school nearby. They are immersed in a strong church family in the village, and they regularly attend Hope Now’s Youth Group.
God also answered our prayers by providing our wonderful house parents, Roma and Tamila. Not only do Roma and Tamila model a healthy Christian marriage and family for these boys, but they also mentor and teach them how to take care of themselves. Even as we first walked into the home, we could see the positive influence of these house parents as the boys asked for our coats, swept the floors periodically to keep the house clean and proudly gave us a tour of their new home. Chore charts and cooking schedules on the fridge in the kitchen gave some insight into the structure, cohesiveness, and security of the home, something these boys did not experience in the orphanage or in their family homes.
The impact this home is having on the boys became even more evident as we took turns going around the table sharing what we were thankful for. The orphan graduates at the table shared how thankful they were for their homes, their friends, Hope Now’s Youth Group, their churches and more. It was truly a testament to God’s power and grace to hear each of these young people share so many reasons to be thankful.
While this Pre-Independence Home is truly a miracle, we say that our dreams have only been partly met. Our goal is to finish the second floor of the house this year, so we can welcome many more graduates. We hope and pray that this house will someday be a safe home for 10-12 teenage boys as they are immersed in a supportive, Christian community.
Can you help us make these hopes a reality? We are so thankful to all who have prayed for and donated to this home. Our goal is to raise $15,000 in order to complete the second floor, including 5 more bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. As we continue this project in faith, we are trusting in our powerful Heavenly Father who continues to amaze us with His grace and love.
To sustain and grow “Greenfield” please click on our donate page and give to “Orphan Graduate Homes”. May God bless you!
Eighth grade can be tough – especially if you’re a lanky 17-year-old, who can’t really read or write. Coming from a broken home of alcoholics, violence and poverty, Vlad arrived at the orphanage not ready to learn, but to survive.