The daily kids’ center “Nazaret” began in 2015, after a group of likeminded people from our church had been serving for a year in the local orphanage, a temporary care home. We tried to help the children in that institution, but a significant problem was that the children were only there temporarily, eventually being returned to their parents only to be sent back to the orphanage again a short time later. We were only able to serve them for a short period in the orphanage, but our desire was to continue working with them after they left, to help them avoid being sent back again.
So many of these children were in high-risk situations, living without proper care from their parents. In Ukraine, by a conservative estimate, about 600,000 kids are considered at-risk, and in need of daily kids’ centers like Nazaret. An additional 106,000 children in Ukraine are living in orphanages (either temporarily or permanently). An estimated 94% of children in these orphanages have at least one living parent. That means a majority of children in Ukraine’s orphanages are what is known as “social orphans,” a child who has no adults looking after them, even though one or more parents may be alive. In Ukraine, half of all children are fatherless, and many children are being raised by their grandmother or a distant relative, with their mom working abroad in order to earn income.
Why We Opened Nazaret
Typically, children are placed in these orphanages due to parental neglect or poor living conditions. Specific reasons for being placed can include missing school, being arrested for a crime, running away from home, suicide attempts, domestic violence, parental abandonment, or abuse in the home.
We used to volunteer primarily with kids in these orphanages, but we soon realized that we could also help kids who were at risk of ending up in the orphanages, and help the families that were struggling to stay together, intervening before the situations became critical. Additionally, we realized that kids coming out of temporary placement in the orphanages needed friendship, love, care, and support. Thus, the idea for Nazaret was born.
We just celebrated our five year anniversary. Here are our annual photos throughout the years.