Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Journey Definitely Has Begun

The Beginning of Something New – Stories to Tell

Tuesday morning
“Today is the birthday of foster care for us!” exclaimed Naseyat, the head of the Family and Children Services Department in the region where we live. Today we met to solidify plans for future development of a project we hope will impact children for a lifetime. We (ILDC) are so privileged to be a part of it.
Naseyat, the head of the Family and Children Services Department

Last spring we began working in Kemin with the social services department as they explored the development of a family resource program (foster care). Naseyat is one persistent person and is determined to bring this new way to care for children to her community. Currently children are placed in orphanages – some good, some okay and some not. When I ask her today if she is aware of anyone else doing foster care in the country, she said no. We encouraged her by telling her that if we work well and carefully, Kemin could be a model for the entire country.

Over the next four weeks we are here, we will be extremely involved with training in the region – both workers and families.

Why is ILDC/LAMb committed to building a resource family program? It has everything to do with permanence for children. When a child leaves an orphanage at the age of 15 or 16, unless there are relatives that he “may” find, there is no one for him. This has been driven home to us just this week with the story of Jenia.

Jenia is a handsome, fifteen year old boy who has “aged” out of the orphanage. He had some serious, unattended medical needs that were met by LAMb. He had his first surgery while still living at the orphanage and the staff took care of some of his food needs while in the hospital. (In order to have food at the hospital while a patient, a family member must bring it.) Just two weeks ago, Jenia had his second surgery and was now living on his own at a technical school, with absolutely no connection to any family. There is no one in his life even to take food to the hospital.

Natalia, Ruby, Lynn and David talked with Jenia as he recovered from his first surgery last May.

While we were walking out of church on Sunday, Jenia called Natalia, our staff person and told her he had no food to eat. She immediately left for Bishkek to go buy food and take it to him. Had it not been for Lynn and Ruby Johnston, who stopped for this one in front of them and provided the financial resources for Natalia to buy food for him, Jenia would have no one. He probably would never had had the surgery.

He is the poster boy for the need of lifelong connection and permanence to a family.

So today we began. We are hopeful and realistic that it will take time and resources to build a program that will impact the lives of children and families – not just for childhood, but for a lifetime.

To find out how you might participate in the development of the Family Resource Program of Kyrgyzstan, please read the side of the blog later this week.

Just Before Lunch Today
After leaving our meeting with the government officials of Kemin, we stopped by the Kemin orphanage and school for disabled children. It is such a beautiful and bright place. We walked around the corner of a building and onto an exercise class. John, President of the organization where we serve, wanted to get in on the action, too.

As we were talking later, I noticed a very precious sight – John and Christa. They were comforting a little 8 year old who was crying. It was only her second day at the orphanage and I know she felt lost and alone. I looked at them and thought to myself…this is what their organization is all about.

Monday evening
There is a very special group of kids in an orphanage near us. We visit them often. When we arrived on Monday evening, there were a number of new faces. Two brothers particularly caught our eye.

Tolick, age 7, lived at the orphanage last spring. We knew him. We also spent time in a baby orphanage where one little guy named Artool really attached to Natalia. Just before we left in June, we were with Tolick, when Natalia commented, he looks like Artool. I didn’t see it, but she did. She talked with the orphanage director, who didn’t think Tolick had a brother. She simply asked him. Tolick replied, “Yes, but I don’t know where he is!” The two had been separated just months earlier, he had been grieving because he had no idea whatever happened to him. Our hope was that the two would be reunited.
When we walked into the orphanage and saw the two together, I ran and hugged the orphanage director...this is more than wonderful!

With the cooperation of the two orphanage directors, these two little guys get together very often and when Artool is old enough for his brother’s orphanage, he will be moved there.

Sunday night
From Hopeless to Hopeful – a Family Restored
What a joy it was on Sunday evening to meet Altynai’s entire family. The first time we met Altynai and her brothers and sisters was in a orphanage about a 45 minute drive from our home. The children were there for a variety reasons and it looked hopeless that the family would be restored. But this miracle happened.

With the intervention of many friends of Possibility International, who cared her parents and other siblings both emotionally and financially this family has been restored. An apartment was purchased for them and renovated by Altynai, her brother and a few others. (At the time they were working on it they didn’t know it was for them). A few weeks ago, the entire family moved into the three room apartment whose only furniture was beds, but not enough for everyone.

On Saturday evening, we got a phone call from our friend, John Wright –“hey, you want to help us deliver furniture tomorrow night?” We couldn’t turn that down. Once we got there, there were a few obstacles, like the bunk beds wouldn’t fit into the doorway. They have to be disassembled, carried in and reassembled . But as of this Tuesday evening, the family now lives in a fully furnished apartment – on the road toward healing and wholeness.
The bunkbeds get stuck in the doorway....now what? There is always an answer.

David talks with Altynia and her mom and sisters.

What a precious sight...this family reunited and in the process of healing!
Each day is a new and interesting one....it is difficult to plan....our motto is when wondering what's next - "it isn't time to know yet!" Thank you for all your support.

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