Dealing with the awful artifacts of the Soviet Union's virtual reality
The centralized methods of solving social problems, particularly those which, “do not exist,” in the Soviet Utopian make-believe
world, was not the best way to deal with them, but it enabled a societal security that hid the awful reality. The number of live-in children’s
institutions in Crimea grew to 20. Each Schola Internat or abandoned-child school, housed, fed and schooled from 150 to 300 children,
By the time the Soviet Union fell apart these schools had raised a three generation dynasty of socially dysfunctional people, about 70% of
whom disappeared (most died) in the first five years out of school. They were not prepared to face a life where no dinner bell rings
and no food or money comes to hand unless useful work has been done for it. That is not to say the child is capable
of doing valuable work. Typically a child from a SI has no more than a 6th grade education.
Ukraine has been struggling to make ends meet. Increased financial pressure and corruption in the bureaucracy robs orphan schools
of entitled funds and makes the health and welfare of these institutionalized children depend heavily on Western humanitarian aid for
maintenance and operations. In more than a few cases this aid has been stolen and sold in the market by people
close to the institution for their own benefit.
As a result, these children who at least would be fed and housed well if they had received their allotted entitlement, have often been subsisting
on thin gruel. The children learn corrupt behavior from their teachers and peers, often selling the very products they could reasonably use for
health maintenance or schoolwork, so as to buy cigarettes, sniffing glue or hard candy. The typical institution cares not an iota.
A family without love is abnormal, dysfunctional.
A state child raising institution without love is normal, and dysfunctional by definition!
Hard core street kids run away from these institutions at the first opportunity. It could be argued that it is not without cause
if the explanations of the children who have talked to me can be taken at face value. Stories of rape by school staff, abuse, and violence
among the children are not uncommon. Of course these things occur in dysfunctional families as well, but the institution protects
the perpetrators in ways families cannot. Yes, occasionally a staff member is replaced for abuses but the system itself
has not changed with revelations of that kind and good people who protect the children and do not kick back
money sent for the children to upper level bureaucrats lose their jobs, as we have seen.
The corrupt system precludes loving hearts from direct involvement.
These schools generally employ poorly equipped teachers by comparison with typical grammar schools and engage the children in few
real life preparation activities. A bell rings and the children react just as any school child would. But there is no home where bells are not rung.
There is no father to teach his son to work with tools. There is no mother to teach practical home economics. There are only a few classes
to teach the basis of living then some lucky children have the chance to go on just a little farther in sewing school, building trades,
or apprentice experience. According to the children who have been through these trade schools, they are taught very little.
It seems the main idea is to get the stipend from the state for taking on such a child and releasing them as soon
as possible after the money comes in. The social outcast has been rejected before getting started.
Patching up this system has engaged some Christian NGO’s with the creation of transition homes where necessary life skills are taught
a few graduated Schola Internat children while they are going to trade school. This is nice for those few children who can make it into such a
home. However the years of learning a family child obtains almost by osmosis will never be completely made up to these institutionally raised
children in a year or two of transition. It should be noted also that so far not 1% of the Schola Internat graduates get into a transition home.
If a new transition home housing 7 children is created every 6 months we may be able to help 10% of the children who need it
ten years hence. It is a lose/lose proposition. As Daniel Webster said, "A strong conviction that
something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
PATCHING UP A FAILED SYSTEM RECALLS THE PATCHED WINE SKIN PARABLE
As Jesus pointed out, patching up failed wine skins is the way to catastrophe. What is needed is a new container made God's way.
God created families to raise children. For all their short-comings families are still the best way to accomplish that feat.
It is time to move back to that method here in Crimea and throughout Ukraine.
INSTRUMENTS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE ARE NEEDED
"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." When institutional life followed by the rebellion that
naturally results, is a child's trained up way of life, one should not be surprised at the large numbers of Internat raised children in prisons.
Moving one step from the soviet mind-set by legislating a 50 child maximum in a Schola Internat institution is another old wineskin
patch that is doomed to failure, if it is even realized. The social experiment may never get off the ground because the State budget
does not include funding for the downsize to a smaller institution. The logic that created this new law is gravely flawed if it
is meant to raise well adjusted law abiding children anyway. Why? It is still an institution, not a loving family.
Children run away from institutions (and now from transition homes) all the time, seeking love, freedom.
What they really need is a way to make their escape before the incarceration even begins.
The River of Joy project is designed to become just such an instrument.
Major change is necessary, briskly moving from the current institutional system of child rearing. We have briefly outlined the reasons
for its curtailment and the issues that make it socially inadequate. River of Joy creates a way these issues can be resolved in a practical
program to: A) prepare untamed children for family life, B) prepare ordinary families to raise children with emotional and mental traumas or
personal survival behaviors which must be lovingly restructured. C) Make an exemplary environment for ongoing education of foster families
in order to perpetuate the foster care program and (speaking in faith) make it one in which more than enough families to care for abandoned
children here will want to take part. D) The need for foster families must be decreased through a massive societal change in individual and
family moral responsibility learned in the pages of the Bible and from people of faith teaching in trans-denominational family conferences
which we plan for the River of Joy Conference Center. E) Succeeding generations will be given the chance to learn how to live a
Christian life at children’s camps conducted at the River of Joy Campgrounds where foster families will find renewing
and refreshing employment during their time in transition and family building at River of Joy.
A. How, with God's help, we will prepare wild street kids for family life.
The Street Kid Rehabilitation Center will have gender separated housing. The first week will be the most difficult for a new child.
It will be a sort of boot camp. There will be lots of talk and interaction with the staff. The children will be loved, well fed and clothed and
rewarded depending on the way they accomplish their daily tasks. A merit/demerit system will help the children learn good behavior on the
reward and punishment model. All rules will be enforced but an atmosphere of love will allow for grace and pardon as well. A child’s tasks
will include indoor and outdoor chores, memorizing verses from the Bible, helping other children, and homework. Time will also be
allocated for recreation and excursions on a reward system. Extra credit may be earned for exceptional performance.
When a child has gone through a set of assigned accomplishments satisfactorily, he will become eligible for family life.
At that point the child may be recommended to families, and the process of seeking for a place where he/she fits will commence
with social and work events in cooperation. When a child and family connect positively they will take a month or more
to get to know one another before the family decides whether or not a given child is for them.
B) How we plan to prepare ordinary Christian families to raise difficult children.
“This kind cometh not out but by prayer and fasting.” All child rearing is challenging. A problem child takes great patience.
Wild children cannot continue wild in a family. River of Joy Street Kids Rehabilitation Center will gradually transition the child into a more
tractable manner of interaction. Rick Joyner recently pointed out that the reason for the chaos that reigned in the wake of the Soviet Union
break-up was that freedom was gained suddenly. Biblical principles of child rearing work best. They teach that a gradual move from
many restrictions to more freedom is successful. This is the method we will use and teach families. Christian spiritual and
psychological principles will be taught, and refresher courses will be frequent.
C) How will we make an exemplary environment for ongoing education of foster families?
River of Joy Campus is situated in a beautiful place. It is a place that two prophets at different times said would be a center of revival.
We plan to make it a wonderful place of work and recreation, a place where people come to rest and play as well as learn new skills and gain
knowledge in Christian family life and prosperous farming methods. Conferences addressing those needs will be scheduled there frequently.
Families who are on site will be employed in upkeep of the campgrounds and rehabilitation center, learning new skills in the process.
D) How will River of Joy help Ukraine society move from the need
for foster care on a large scale to healthy families that do not create street children?
River of Joy has already held a beginning course for church leaders on site. Many seminars and courses will be held at ROJ, teaching Biblical
principles of family living, village evangelism, children’s ministry and church planting. ROJ staff is involved in travel for village pastoral work now.
Just as salvation comes one person at a time, transformation of Ukraine will come one village at a time. As we set a worthy
and desirable example the seeds for more village transformations will be spread to other villages. Just as each
member in the world wide body of Christ has unique gifts, each village has a unique location, resources
and people. Firstly, the village elders must learn Christian principles, ethics, and world view. When
these are in place they are ready to put the resources of their village to work so a sto most
effectively make use of them. Then the village must learn to cooperate with other
villages in a spirit of love in order for all to prosper.
E) How will the ROJ Campus itself contribute to child and family rehabilitation?
The ROJ campus will contribute to child and family rehabilitation at least four ways. It provides a location for:
1) ROJ Street kid rehab Center located on the ROJ campus. (See Vision page) It will prepare children for family life.
We are seeking funding to build this center now. Foster family housing will follow closely behind. Families who spend time
at ROJ choosing children for their families will also have work on site and learn resource development to take back home.
2) ROJ Christian Camps. Seasonal camping will provide funds for operations and work for families and children in transition.
We need to build cabins meeting venues and recreational features for campers. (See Vision page). Children are the parents of the future
should the Lord tarry. A quality Christian camping experience has influenced many great men and women of God in their youth.
For the last two years we could only afford one camp for kids. We designed the camps so half of the kids who
came had not yet made a decision for Christ. That half of the children repented on the night before
the end of the camp and the first year two of them were baptized in the river.
3) ROJ Education Facilities. Family and village practical and spiritual resource management Seminars
and Conferences, learning Centers for technology renovation, including computer classes, management projects,
camp maintenance, aquaculture, metal forge, cheese making and greenhouse tending....
4) ROJ Center for healing and health. As a first step we will finish the IAHR associated healing Station.
This and the organizing should be finished in 2008. We expect multi-generational curses to be broken as
the trans-denominational healing team seeks God for individual, family and village healing. The place is a natural.
A Crimean deputy minister told us that our location is the most ecologically clean place in Crimea!
5) ROJ Produce. We are planning state of the art greenhouses connected with aquaculture (fish raising).
This is not,"teaching someone to fish." It is, "teaching someone to raise fish." Teaching foster families
new agricultural methods and market realities will help them renew villages and attract more productive people
back to village life. Eventually ROJ will become self supporting.
All of these activities and the work up to them will be bathed in prayer.
Please hold us up in prayer. We want to hear God's every direction and strategy in this important work.
If you have skills or experience needed or useful for this project and think you hear God's call to be a part of it on
a full or part-time basis, please contact David for an online, get acquainted interview.
|The LORD protects the strangers; He supports
the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts
A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.
God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity,
Psalm 68:5, 6