A Refuge For Some Of Russia's Unadopted Orphans
The Harbor is a unique program for orphans in St. Petersburg, Russia. Our mission is to be a refuge for the 98% of Russian orphans that don’t get adopted; to provide a safe place where they can discover their purpose in life, learn the skills to achieve that purpose, and experience the necessary healing to walk in that purpose.
Through our three year residential curriculum, we are proving that government statistics regarding orphans can be reversed. Ninety percent are expected to end up homeless, involved in crime, prostitution, drug addiction, and/or in prison within the first five years. Ninety percent of our participants are, instead, succeeding in their adjustment to young adult living, gaining employment, and furthering their education.
The Harbor’s philosophy is reflected in our holistic program. Our goal is to effect profound and life-long change in every orphan in our program. We believe this can only be accomplished by addressing the whole person; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Furthermore, since each person is a unique reflection of the Creator’s image, they must be addressed on an individual basis.
Each participant completes an entire battery of assessments and is then given an individualized plan. Each plan addresses the five core areas of education, life skills, job skills, counseling, and spiritual formation.
1. Profound and lasting change most often occurs in the context of relationships. Thus, the Harbor program is residential where a family atmosphere is approximated as much as possible. A high staff/participant ratio is utilized.
2. Significant and enduring change only occurs if the whole person is addressed. Therefore, the Harbor program is holistic. It addresses the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical aspects of all participants.
3. Staff are our greatest asset and must be our top priority. The program is only as effective as our staff. We hire only those who are specialists, Christians, and who own the Harbor vision for themselves. We invest heavily in them with continuing education, spiritual formation, and salaries worthy of their market value.
4. Russians know better than foreigners how to best prepare their orphans for successful integration into their society. Foreign leadership consults, advises, and teaches the Russian staff, yet remains submissive to the decisions of the indigenous leadership. They are the ones that have to live with the consequences of these decisions.
5. A program that endures for generations must be built on a solid foundation whose responsibility is by nationals. We are taking the necessary steps to build an infrastructure both strong enough and flexible enough to stand the test of time.
Our Commitment to Donors:
We take financial stewardship very seriously. We stand accountable to you and God to use each gift wisely used in accordance with our mission, goal and beliefs. We will never ask for gifts that are not needed. We will maintain a full disclosure policy at all times. CRM is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and 501 (c)(3) approved.
Our Program: Transitional Care
The Harbor is a ministry of Church Resource Ministries.
During a two-year program, orphans who have "graduated" from orphanages are mentored by trained and experienced Russian Christian staff in the areas of: education, vocational training, life skills, counseling and spiritual formation. The Harbor's belief is that a fully prepared life is most effectively achieved in the context of a supportive family environment, as opposed to a classroom. Therefore, the orphans who are selected from among the orphanages come to live among the staff in family units, where modeling can occur and lessons are caught as well as taught.
Mentors help graduate orphans become productive and successful citizens. They also act as advocates for them in acquiring housing and employment. In contrast to other orphan ministries, The Harbor is a live-in residential care program with a high staff to orphan ratio. Informal family environment and mentoring are emphasized over formal teaching and information giving; change via a relationship vs. change via a classroom.
The Harbor's vision is to expand the current operations to include 40-50 graduate orphans over the next five-year period. In addition, we have already begun to develop a center to train leaders from other regions of Russia and her former republics in this model of orphan integration.
Our Objectives/ Creating a New Model:
1. Establishing a new model of transitional childcare; helping orphans who must leave an orphanage due to their age, to integrate successfully into mainstream life.
2. Establishing a new model that provides not only material care, but also one that addresses the holistic needs of children (emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, and physical health).
3. Establishing a new model that assures an adequate level of education and training/job skills, and allows for realistic job placement.
4. Establishing a new model with highly trained and effective staff who believe that there is hope for the orphans and that orphans are created with dignity, potential, and purpose.
5. Establishing a new model whereby staff serves not only as workers, but also as mentors who nurture, guide, and advocate for these children.
6. Establishing a new model, to serve as an example to the churches of St. Petersburg, of a culturally relevant expression of the heart of God.
7. Establishing a new model that empowers the Russians to staff and manage such a project long-term.
Our vision is to:
Develop 40-50 participants every two years who will be ready and able to function independently as productive citizens and break the cycle of poverty, crime, and unwanted pregnancies.
Develop a training center where leaders from other cities and republics in the former Soviet Union can come and be trained how to start their own Harbor.
Develop a vocational training center large enough to offer training to both our participants and all of the city's orphanages.
Develop businesses that will train and employ Harbor participants and financially undergird the program.
Our Current Facilities:
In May 2004, we purchased our first apartment. The apartment has five rooms housing eight full-time girls. Before we purchased the apartment, we rented it out for a year. Prior to moving into the apartment, the girls had to do some remodeling. Through remodeling, the girls gained knowledge and experience in how to fix up an apartment and design their own rooms. The Harbor's goal is to recruit a team of volunteers that will travel to Russia and help renovate the girl's apartment to make it more comfortable.
We are renting three other apartments. In one apartment, we house eight-full time boys. The Harbor's goal is to purchase an apartment for the boys to bring more stability to the ministry. In another apartment, we have our vocational center and office. At the vocational center, we teach participants computer skills, English, sewing, counseling, tutoring, etc. The final apartment we rented out to some of our graduates for one year during the follow-up period.
Visit us at THE HARBOR IN ST PETERSBERG
THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN LIVE UNDERGROUND IN BUCHAREST, ROMANIA
Story from: NORTHSTAR GALLERY
[Report from Bucharest, Romania, October 19, 1999]
We left Timisoura Monday morning for Bucharest 800 km away. In Bucharest we visited Sue and Ron Bates. The Bates are from Texas and are in their fifties and have lived in Bucharest for eight years. They arrived soon after the execution of Ceaucescu and his wife in 1989. It is now believed that Ceaucescu killed three million Romanians during his reign. At the time of his death he was building a Palace at a cost of two billion dollars.
The Bates live in the ghettos of Bucharest and have been working with the street children of the city. There are thousands of children living in the underground heating tunnels and sewers of Bucharest. The "Street Children" are very reticent to enter any program. Many have been abandoned because their family could not feed them or were told if you leave we’ll have more food for the rest. Many are children raised in orphanages and set free at age eighteen, some lived in very abusive homes and some came from homeless families.
What Ron and Sue have found themselves doing is taking in the babies of the "Street Children". Babies do not survive in the underground and the young parents, often living as husband and wife, love their children and want something better than the underground. The Bates now have twelve infants and children living with them. Some of the parents of the children visit daily. [See Through Flori’s Eyes]. I had the privilege to interview several young girls: Michaela, Gabi, Lalela, Cadria, Florina, Stefana, and Bianca about their lives, how they came to live in the underground and what their lives are like there.
Mihaela who is eighteen and is the mother of Leonard is expecting a second child. Mihaela invited me to visit her and her husband Laurentiu in the underground. Laurentiu is the leader of the clan of children that live in one particular area of Bucharest.
Later that evening Sue and Sue’s assistant Dorin took Janice and I to where Mihaela lives in an area behind McDonalds. Laurentiu met us, greeted us warmly and escorted us to a manhole cover that he removed and showed us how to descend a twelve-foot ladder into the underground.
Their home was an underground cubicle twelve feet long, eight feet wide and seven feet high. Mihaela and Laurentiu have lived here as husband and wife for five years. There home is part of the city’s steam heat distribution system and was warm, dry and neat as a pin. Scripture was written in chalk on the walls. Their home was lit by candlelight. I never felt more welcome in someone’s home. After visiting for a while, I noticed additional candles being lit in adjacent tunnels. These were the candles of other children, making a determination that, as an adult, I was not a threat to them.
Laurentiu took us to other manhole covers where we descended into the homes of other children living in small groupings of five to seven. All of the children wanted me to take family portraits and wanted to be photographed with me. All of the children use Aurolac as an inhalant. Aurolac is a paint thinner that is extremely addictive and destroys the brain, liver, kidneys and lungs.
The whole experience was so profound – beautiful, intelligent engaging children living in an underground society devoid of adult presence and love. The whole experience had a surreal, Peter Pan quality and was reminiscent of a time when we played "fort" in the backyard. William Goldings’ The Lord of the Flies is disturbingly descriptive of the lives of these dear children.
Through Flori’s Eyes
The following excerpt is written by Sue Bates, it offers a powerful insight into the personal meaning of the work they are doing in Bucharest.
"Flori is a four year old little gypsy girl who has been with us for about eight months. According to the Romanian government, officially she is "person non grata." Because she has no papers…they consider that she doesn’t exist. But through this little girl, I have learned more about the heart of God than all the theology books and sermons I have ever encountered. I suppose she is four. Her mother (Fana – short for Stefana) doesn’t know when Flori was born – or even when she herself was born. Fana was thrown out of her home when she was eight years old… about twelve years ago, and has been living on the streets ever since. Her own mother didn’t want her.
“Fana is totally illiterate -- not even able to write her own name. She has had two children since she had Flori…and left them abandoned in the hospital. Four days ago she had an abortion. She had promised us that she would not do this, and would give the child to us…but she didn’t.
“For 3 ½ years she kept Flori on the streets…living in subway entrances or city parks. It was freezing in the winter – and there are no homeless shelters in Bucharest…so it was either there or on the streets in the incredibly filthy underground canals. Both places are miserable and dangerous. In the daytime, and sometimes into the night, they were on the streets – begging for a meager living. Flori was used by her mother to beg.
“When we first met Flori…we had taken some street kids to Macdonald’s. She and her mom were with them. Flori was so filthy, had lice, didn’t talk, was withdrawn and lifeless. Fana knew we had taken in Leonard and asked if we could let Flori live with us. Her reason was that she didn’t want Flori to be like her – she wanted Flori to go to school and learn to read and write. If you are living on the streets without a birth certificate and ID (Identification Card)…you cannot go to school. We are now trying to get these papers, but it is very difficult if they consider you don’t exist. So we don’t have legal custody of her yet.
“When we first got Flori, she was petrified of baths. She had gotten very few in her life…and in freezing places. She lived a life of misery…sleeping outdoors in the cold, with filthy clothes full of lice and bugs, inadequate food – mostly bread and cokes, and forced to beg on the cruel streets. But, she immediately began changing and is now a normal, full-of-life happy little girl. But, when her mother leaves…she cries like her heart is breaking.
“We didn’t want to sever her relationship with her mother, because no one can take a mother’s place…no matter how bad she is. We didn’t want to force Flori to become an orphan. We left our door open to Fana to come see Flori whenever she wanted to come. Sometimes, she will take Flori for a day or two…much to our disapproval. She takes her downtown to beg. Flori comes back in a terrible condition…with bug bites, exhausted, dirty, hungry, sleepy…and recently, with impetigo. We have begged her not to do this to her daughter…but we couldn’t stop her. We just had to trust God to take care of Flori while she was gone. But when her mother leaves…she screams and cries for her.
“Flori ("little flower") is a gypsy child. Even though she is very beautiful and sweet, the kids tease her and call her a "crow"…meaning "black." The gypsies are outcasts in the Romanian society. But, Flori cares none about these prejudices…she is concerned about her mother.
“Two days ago, Fana came here very sick….from the abortion. She had pain in her stomach and fever. We bought all the medicine the doctor prescribed for her infection. Flori sensed something unusual was wrong with her precious mother.
“What I saw that day was a most beautiful picture of God’s love for us…his very own. Flori sat in her mother’s lap and showed the most tender affection and concern humanly possible. Her mom was very dirty, sick…very broken by Adam’s fall…but Flori hugged and kissed her unashamedly. She has many times sung to her mother, but that day she was so worried about her…she could only hold her and kiss the stained clothes that covered her breast. Flori with her big, beautiful black eyes, tenderly looked up into the face of her mother…and reached up to gently touch her on the cheek and give her a loving smile. Through Flori’s eyes, her mother is the most beautiful and important person in the world.
“At that moment, I realized why God said that we must become like little children to enter into His kingdom. Because He is like Flori. He is like this little child…a child that loves unashamedly, unreservedly…that forgives…who is without prejudice. A God who loves without restraint…no matter how dirty and stained we are.
“When Fana left, Flori screamed and howled and cried. No matter what her mother does Flori would never forsake her mother. She will never forget her. She will never give her up. We have a God like that…like this little four-year-old Romanian gypsy girl. We have a God so loving and kind. He is so thoroughly gracious and accepting of sinners no matter how unworthy…just like Flori is to her mother.
“God, help me to be more like Flori. Help me to see people through Flori’s eyes…as most beautiful and precious in your sight. Let us see with grace and love from You, without reservation and prejudice – like this beautiful little girl sees.”
“Shalom from Romania, Sue and Ron."
People wishing to provide financial and prayer support to the work of Ron and Sue Bates in Bucharest may contact them by email at email@example.com
KOSOVAN REFUGEES FLOOD INTO DURRES IN ALBANIA
Lucy Norman, a local nursery teacher, has recently returned after 3 months working in an Albanian orphanage and helping Kosovan refugees. This was Lucy's second trip to the orphanage, where she worked as a volunteer. The orphanage has been taken over by Salisbury-based charity 'Hope and Homes for Children', and cares for 40 children, ranging in age from 2 months to 5 years.
"Most of the children have been abandoned at birth, and are considered the lowest of the low. Even amongst some of the staff, there was prejudice, and a real need to change their practices. The children often did not receive the attention and stimulation that they needed," says Lucy.
Lucy worked with another British volunteer to help look after the children, and train local staff in childcare and development. There were many problems to overcome, not least the language, since none of the local staff spoke English. But as time progressed they saw the quality of care improve. "One of the children was thought to be deaf, as she didn't respond when her name was called. But it turned out that she was simply not used to hearing her name, and did not know what she was called."
Many of the children will be adopted, but for those who are not, the charity is trying to set up 'small family homes'. These will house up to 8 children, where they will be able to stay up to age 16, without being moved or separated from siblings and friends.
The orphanage is situated in Albania's main port, Durres, about an hour's drive from the capital Tirana. When Lucy arrived there in mid-April, there were already 20,000 refugees from Kosovo. This number rapidly grew to 80,000 as people flooded in. Through the local church that she was attending, Lucy got involved in distributing food and clothing, and heard first-hand what people had suffered.
[Picture shows Lucy at Durres with Angela, Narsede, Razi and Mosa]
"Many people had arrived with nothing, not even shoes. Their possessions and documents had been taken at the border, and many of the men had been led away. Even babies had been strip-searched to make sure that nothing was hidden in their clothing. Some of the refugees wanted to talk, especially those with good English, and hearing their stories really affected me. I went back to see one family again and again, and developed a warm relationship with them. But the last time I saw them was different; conversation was strained and they were obviously very tense. They were about to return to Kosovo, and had no idea what to expect. But they wanted to get back quickly to ensure no-one else took their house."
The relationships that have been built up will continue, as the local churches continue to send aid into Kosovo and help people try to rebuild their homes and lives.
Visit The Website
WORLD PARTNERS ADOPTION -- KAZAKHSTAN
Kazakhstan is a wonderful country to adopt from for many reasons and one that runs like clockwork for WPA Families. Our hearts are dedicated to this beautiful country where our own children were born. WPA is the number one placement agency in Kazakhstan, and we have placed over 1500 children in the last 8 years! Our in-country staff surpasses the rest with their endless dedication to the children. Our lawyer works collaboratively with the Ministry in helping the adoption laws be interpreted and maintained so the adoption process is protected and more children can find homes! With WPA, your hand is held on this side throughout the process, then when you travel all you have to do is show up and our partners do the rest!
The process is typically 12-14 months from start to finish. The children are a minimum of 6 months old before they can be adopted and usually around 8-9 months at the time you bring them home.
Our Kazakhstan partners are a dynamic team of 3 sisters, consisting of a Lawyer, a licensed Neurologist, and an accountant. They have been helping families to adopt since 1997, completing over 1500 adoptions with a 100% success rate! They are also considered the best facilitators by the US Embassy in Almaty!
WPA is the number one placement agency in Kazakhstan with over 1500 placements!
We work in 12 different cities and 15 different orphanages in Kazakhstan, giving us an edge when regional issues give other agencies with smaller programs problems.
One of the largest republics to come out of the breakup of the former Soviet Union, the northern borders touch Russia and the eastern borders touch China. This beautiful nation is rich with history, mountains, and beautiful people. Kazakhstan is known for its agriculture, mining, and space missions to the Russian space station MIR.
The children we place are as young as 8-9 months old at the time of placement. Older children of all ages are also available. We work in 12 cities and 15 Baby Houses. The Staff in all the baby houses are very dedicated to our waiting children and take very good care of them until they find their forever families!
The children of Kazakhstan are born in maternity hospitals and remain there until they are 30 days old, when they are transferred to a baby house. In the baby house, the children receive specialized care from the doctors and nurses. The Baby houses are actually medical facilities that consist of a staff of Doctors, Nurses, and a diverse team of Specialists. These include Neurologists, Orthopedic Specialists, Speech Pathologists, Physical Therapists, and Teachers. The children are evaluated on a daily basis in terms of their medical health and overall development. A common day in the baby house consists of music lessons, massage therapy, physical education, play therapy, and speech therapy.
From start to becoming parents it is generally is a minimum of a 12 to 14 month process. You will work closely with the staff at WPA during your journey to become parents. We will guide you in the preparation of your dossier, coach you on what to expect while in country, and "hold your hand" every step of the way! Our adoption coordinators are all dedicated parents who have adopted their own children from Kazakhstan through our program, so they have stood in your shoes and know what you are going through during this emotional process.
We will help you prepare your dossier yourself, or you can utilize our Dossier Preparation service, "Paperwork Partners" We will help you file your CIS paperwork, provide you with your referral, and guide you through your entire process of adoption and travel to Kazakhstan. Travel to Kazakhstan can be done in one trip, however it will be 6+ weeks in length. Most of our adoptive families opt to make it in two trips. BOTH parents must travel on each trip. The first trip is approximately three weeks in length, you come home during the 15 day waiting period after court and then return for an additional week. We recommend the two trip option as staying anywhere for 6+ weeks can be challenging to say the least! While you are in Kazakhstan, our facilitators will do EVERYTHING for you to complete your adoption in the most professional manner possible, the level of service you will receive from them is really second to none! Feel free to ask our families about their experience with WPA!
Criteria for Adopting from Kazakhstan through WPA
* Maximum age for adoptive mother ranges is 48, adoptive father 52. Parents in this age group must be willing to accept a child over the age of 4. (minimum age for both parents is 25 years old each)
* Family size varies by region. No more than 3 school aged children in the home.
* Kazakhstan is an Asian country thus families should be open to ethnicity and families cannot specify a Caucasian child.
* Total travel time is approximately 6 weeks if you make only one trip. Most parents decide to make it a two trip process. The first trip will be approximately 3 weeks, returning 2 weeks later for an additional week. Both parents must travel on both trips.
* Childless single females under the age of 45 are allowed to adopt one child, of either gender thru our program. Please note it has become more difficult for single females to adopt from Kazakhstan, and if you are under 40 with no infertility issues, it may not be possible.
* No more than 2 divorces per adoptive parent.
* Parents that have any arrests that show up on their FBI clearance, regardless of the age of the offense cannot adopt from Kazakhstan. If you are in doubt about whether a past offense will show up or not, please visit the FBI website to learn how to get your records to see if anything shows up - http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/fprequest.htm Please note it says it will take 6-8 weeks to process, this is not the case if you write on the outside of the mailer it is for international adoption purposes. In these cases, it takes about two weeks to get the results.
* Both parents must be U.S. citizens.
We will be happy to help you in any way and answer any questions you have. Please call us at 1-800-350-7338 or email us at WPAJim@aol.com. We look forward to being a part of your journey to adopt a Child!
Visit out website: WORLD PARTNERS ADOPTION
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