“When there is not love for a child to remember, then there is nothing for the child to remember except the hate.” (Roger Dean Kiser)
Jewish families have not escaped the high rate of unemployment and poverty ravaging the Former Soviet Union. Numerous marriages have broken up, leaving children in the hands of caretakers or single parent homes that can’t make ends meet. Many turn to alcohol or drugs; some are institutionalized or in prison. Children are neglected, and adoption is rarely an option. More often than not, they end up on the street.
The FJC has created an expanding network of children’s homes in cities such as Moscow and Zhitomir (both supported by the Keshet fund), Odessa, Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk, providing a holistic, warm environment where these desperate youngsters can not only heal, but thrive. Here, some will receive their first set of clothes; others will finally see the inside of a classroom.
Staffed by state-certified professionals, each shelter provides loving house parents, psychological counseling, medical treatment, three nutritious meals daily, attractive bedrooms, modern bathrooms, new clothing, game rooms, field trips and cultural enrichment. The children attend the local Jewish day schools during the year and FJC camps during the summer break, enabling them to adapt to the mainstream by mingling with children from normative families.
Community representatives actively seek out new wards, taking to the streets at night with food, information and an open invitation to ‘come home.’ Babies, children abandoned by their parents, abused, cold and hungry – all are cared for with genuine love and warmth, so that they can one day become independent and healthy individuals in a normative society.