Renovation of the school’s technical classrooms are an urgent need since they affect the children’s education, development, and work-life skills. Their tools and machines are outdated and in poor condition: The sewing machines and carpentry equipment are 35 years old and many machines are broken beyond repair. Additionally, the classrooms are in poor condition which results in an unsafe and poor learning environment for the children.
Ukraine lies in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia, Romania, and Hungary. For almost a century, Ukraine was occupied by various Russian governments from the Russian Czars to the communists. During these years, the Ukrainian language, culture, religion, and customs were suppressed or banned; its natural resources were almost completely depleted; and, its financial health became hopelessly compromised by the state-controlled economy. Ukraine became a symbol of corruption, secrecy, and environmental disaster when its nuclear energy facility in Chernobyl experienced a meltdown.
In 1991, Ukraine finally achieved independence from the Soviet Union. After the fall of communism in the early 1990s, Ukraine began the difficult process of transitioning from a strict socialist economy to a capitalist economy, and from a totalitarian state to an open and free society. After a promising start, the country has experienced a series of set-backs including an on-going energy crisis, a collapse of basic social welfare programs, government instability, exacerbation of environmental problems, and extreme poverty in many areas of the country. Unemployment rates are extremely high, particularly among women. These women are now experiencing sharp increases in alcoholism and drug abuse, and women, young and old, are often forced or coerced into prostitution. During this transition, the orphans and the elderly suffered the most. Without family to support them, the children were placed under the care of a government that struggled to learn democracy and sustain itself.
As a result, Ukraine has experienced an extraordinary rise in the number of abandoned children, and there are now more than 400,000 children living in orphanages across Ukraine. Conditions in orphanages vary, but none would meet basic western standards of care. Unfortunately, severe overcrowding is the norm. Medical care is completely inadequate, dental care is nonexistent, and educational opportunities are substandard. The orphanage provides shelter, nourishment, and education for children who may otherwise live alone on the streets of Odessa. Children arrive at the orphanage for one of three reasons:
- Their parents have abandoned them;
- Their parents are too poor to financially support the children on a consistent basis (we typically call these children economic orphans;
- Or, their custodial parents or guardians have died.
Today, the Ukrainian government continues to be responsible for the care of orphaned children. While the orphanages receive some governmental support for food and basic necessities, much of their support comes from United States-based humanitarian aid organizations, like Frontier Horizon.
Frontier Horizon provides financial support, project-planning support, and oversight to help improve living and educational conditions inside the facilities. Last year, for example, an orphanage experienced a devastating fire. No government help was available, but Frontier Horizon financed a reconstruction project at the orphanage to repair the damage.
Additionally, Frontier Horizon programs include a year-round hosting program that brings adoptable children to the United Sates for visits with prospective families. The Hosting Program focuses on older children ranging in age from 7 to 15 who are not often considered candidates for adoption due to their age. The Frontier Horizon Hosting Program takes place twice each year, and proves to be a life changing experience for host families and orphanage children alike.
Through Frontier Horizon’s programs, the orphanage staff is able to provide opportunities for children to travel into the local communities for meals, entertainment, and other educational and cultural activities. In addition, Frontier Horizon provides clothing, educational books and materials, and tutoring for children in English and other academic areas where the students demonstrate a need.