During the summer of 2010, we had the opportunity to host several dozen children from surrounding villages to come to camp at Pine Branch Christian Camp. These are all children who are being monitored by the Department of Social Services. Our “county” is the last county before the Chernobyl zone and the hopelessness and despair here is indescribable. During some follow-up visits, after the summer of 2010, with children and their parents, we were shocked at the situations we found.
One tragic situation was the lives of one particular family were one of the children had been severely burned when his father put him on the stove to teach him a lesson. The boy suffered first degree burns on his legs and hands. Sasha was hospitalized for 10 days and his father jailed briefly. As a result, our ministry team has kept close contact with the family and has tried to minister to the children and mom in whatever way possible. Today, both the father and mother have jobs, the father no longer abuses the children and the children now respect him for changing his life.
In September of 2010, Jeremiah’s Hope began a new initiative called “The Sasha Project” in response to the situation we found Sasha living in. While the Department of Social Services is charged with watching after and providing for these children, they just don’t have the resources to do it. They do not even have a car or money for transportation to be able to travel out to the outlying villages to check on the well being of the children. “The Sasha Project” aims to help meet some of the basic needs of children in the Ivankiv region. Over 30 children were registered with our ministry during the first month. Since then, we have registered even more kids and today, we serve over 80 children on a twice a month basis. Each of these children live in home with alcoholism, neglect, abuse, abandonment or abject poverty.
Every two weeks, Jeremiah’s Hope staff visit these children, spending 15-30 minutes in each home and make reports to Social Services, as needed. Additionally, we will provide families with simple food packages (bread, macaroni, rice, cream of wheat, cooking oil, butter, eggs, cheese, sausages, cabbage, carrots, onions, apples, oranges, juice and milk) to help meet the need of providing for these children. We also provide school supplies and other material needs like blankets and warm clothing for winter.
Each of these children are also involved in our annual New Years camp and summer camps. These camps provide a respite for the children and a place to go for rest.