It's unthinkable ... hurting a child. But it happens. Alcohol, drugs ... poverty, prison ... violence, crime ... When a child suffers abuse or abandonment, someone has to do something.
In Belarus, when the authorities rescue a child, they move the child into a children’s shelter. It’s a safe haven, with devoted house parents, gentle counselors, skillful kitchen workers, and hardworking support staff.
A child in such a situation has been traumatized. But we’ve seen how patiently and lovingly the caregivers in these shelters tend to the children. Soothing their fears. Getting them to the doctor. Keeping them in school.
Meanwhile, professionals work with the family, in hopes of restoration. The shelter team has six months to make the household safe for the child’s return. If it doesn’t happen, the child is placed with relatives or foster parents or moved into an orphan-care setting.
This is where New Thing began. In a children’s shelter in the town of Zhodino, housed in a wretched half-century-old building, we began funding a complete restoration: all-new furniture in the dorms, a commercial kitchen, and laundry, office equipment, even a sidewalk laid by American volunteers.
Then came an after-school center for at-risk children in the neighborhood, with connections to their families — in hopes of preventing children from needing the shelter. It was the first of its kind in the nation. (It’s been so successful, other towns have replicated our model.)
We’re now seeing more and more children in the prevention center, and fewer in the shelter! Lives are being spared.