The Reality of Family Separation

When *Illia was transferred to a new school, no one really explained why he’d be staying there through the week. He just knew he welcomed the regular meals, the opportunity to sleep in a bed, and the distance from his mother, who was often drunk. He wondered if this was where his siblings had gone when they went away and hoped they were safe, too.

Over time, Illia put the pieces together in his mind, like a vast jigsaw puzzle of case workers, peer input, and visits from Grandma. He concluded that he’d been sent to the rehabilitation school by a judge because she didn’t think his mom was taking good care of him. The judge considered taking him away completely, like what happened to his brother and sister. But at least for now, he’d still go home on the weekends.

Some of the kids at the rehabilitation center eventually go home for good. Others are sent to an orphanage. When he first learned this, he wasn’t sure which was worse.

Enter Olya

Olya met Illia and his mother when the courts referred their case to her. She invited them to the Sunday meetings she holds for at-risk families, where she teaches Biblical principles for family life and provides some basic necessities. She has started making home visits to the tiny room they’re staying in and bought a bed for Illia’s use on weekend visits. 

Having been first exposed to the plight of orphans in her role as an interpreter for The Boaz Project’s short-term teams, Olya developed a burden to prevent family disruption whenever possible. She saw the abuse and neglect in the state institutions and wanted to help children avoid that. 

When she learned that 95% of the children living in Russia’s institutions had at least one living parent, Olya knew something had to change. She longed for these families to be restored and for the children to be able to stay with their parents.

 

Keeping Families Together

Today, Olya works with families like Illia’s by court referral, attempting to bring healing and restoration.

Her work is difficult. Not every family makes the changes she prays they will. Yet, believing that transformation is possible, Olya faithfully pours into these at-risk families, offering resources, encouragement, and opportunities to make important changes while the courts are deciding the children’s fate.

Sometimes, she’s able to keep children from entering the orphanage by helping the parents get sober, hold a job, manage their own mental health, or find resources to assist their special needs child. But in every case, she is able to plant seeds of truth in each family member, seeds that may flourish long after they leave her services.

 

For now, Illia and his mother are faithfully coming to the meetings Olya offers and are open to spiritual truths. They are looking for solutions to the addiction that holds their family in its grip and want to know more about the God Olya knows personally.

Back on this side of the world, The Boaz Project staff has been praying about this same issue, this prevalence of children in Russia’s orphanage system despite the fact that they have a living parent. We’ve been asking God to give us a way to support these children so they never land in an institution. 

So imagine our excitement to learn about the work Olya is doing! 

Though she’s gone through the appropriate training and is serving families referred to her by the courts, Olya can help very few families at a time, as she maintains her full time job.  Recently, we’ve been dreaming and discussing ways to partner with Olya so that she could focus on this calling full time! 

Olya is willing to leave her job and serve more families like Illia’s. Don’t you think we should make that possible?

We Need YOU!

For $100/month, a family at risk of disruption can:

– attend the bi-weekly Biblical principles for families lessons

– receive some practical items for hygiene or food bi-weekly

– get monthly home visits to discuss their specific goals and progress and learn about resources available

– have their children tutored as necessary

– celebrate their children’s birthdays with a gift and party

 

Once she leaves her current employer, Olya will be able to serve ten families at a time. I’m hoping you’ll keep her busy by supporting one of these families.

We’re looking for 20 sponsors who will give $50/month to cover half of the fees for an at-risk family to receive these practical services and learn about the hope Jesus offers them.

Of course, you’re welcome to cover a family completely!

When you sponsor a family, you will not be assigned a particular family, but will receive regular updates regarding the services they receive and hear about some of the families participating. 

You can keep children out of the state-run system that is so detrimental by making a monthly pledge at www.boazproject.org/atrisk.

 

On behalf of children who need their parents,

April Jurgensen
Founder/Executive Director
The Boaz Project, Inc.

*Name has been changed to protect the child’s identity.

P.S. We’re hoping to have funds in hand so that Olya can begin adding families to her caseload July 1st!

Help Ukraine Orphans!

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