Ukraine's Aging Out Program
It has been nearly 30 years since Ukraine gained its independence from Russia with the fall of the Soviet Union. Since that time, the Ukrainian people have attempted to rebuild their country, despite rising tensions, a faltering economy, and an ongoing war between Russia and Eastern Ukraine.
In the midst of the turmoil are approximately 95,000 children living within Ukraine’s orphan and protective care systems.
“When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, the orphan care systems were completely broken down an only within the last decade are starting to be rebuilt. Joining the effort to expand the capacity of the government and faith-based community in caring for orphaned and vulnerable children is a wonderful opportunity for us as a ministry,” says Orphan Outreach President, Mike Douris.
A special aging out initiative supported by Orphan Outreach and its Ukraine NGO Together for Children is addressing a major need in serving teens and young adults who are orphaned. Unlike children born into stable families, orphan graduates (often no more than 16 or 17 years of age) do not have a built-in support structure to help them navigate college entry forms, job applications, safe housing, and the healthcare system. For many of them, they are but one crisis away from the streets. Orphan Outreach has developed a case management model that creates a community where each young adult is guided by the staff and provided that social safety net.
Oleg is one of the young adults whose life has been transformed through the program. Because of the continued support of Porter’s customers, Oleg is now a university student who is thriving and has big dreams for the future. He was invited to share his testimony as part of Orphan Sunday, a global celebration of orphan care. He shared his experience, the difficulties he faced once he aged out of traditional orphan care, and about what he has learned through the loving care and support he has received. Andrew Rubel, his mentor and advocate, said, “When you are a young guy, you wonder if adults will listen to you. Oleg talked about the influence of Christians on his life and how God has completely transformed him. His words inspired everyone who heard them—including all of us who are called to serve.”