The Father’s House in Kiev, Ukraine (not related to Father’s House in Romania), rescues children from the streets through a multi-step process that begins with a two-and-a-half month ‘camp’ set on an island in the broad Dnieper river. The Dnieper slowly flows through Kiev towards the Black Sea and provides a unique barrier of separation between the harsh streets and the idyllic setting of the campsite.
(Image: Step One – The Father’s House campsite. A place of rehabilitation.)
The camp is followed by a nine month group residential care program where children continue to learn about their value and responsibility. Afterwards, they are placed into family units in an adjoining apartment complex that is also owned by the ministry. Here, families from the church have volunteered to look after eight children each over a two year period.
(Image: One of the street boys currently at the camp)
There are six families currently in the apartment complex, helping to raise a total of 48 children that have progressed through these structured rehabilitation and development steps. After they have learned the value of family, and about a Father who loves them so much, many of these children are adopted into Christian families (often the very same families that volunteered to raise them for two years in the apartments) or placed into more permanent foster-care arrangements so that other children can eventually take their places to undergo the transformation course.
(Image: Step Two – The Father’s House group residential home)
(Image: Step Three – Children are placed into family units in a separate apartment building on the property. Eight children are assigned to each family.)
The orphaned and abandoned children of Father’s House have many painful stories – stories of young lives of abuse and exploitation.
We were told of an eight year-old girl who ran away from home after being continually prostituted for vodka by her alcoholic mother. Nobody knows for sure when her torment began, perhaps when she was as young as six. Men would simply show up with a bottle of the liquor in order to have time with her. After receiving the alcohol, her mother would then show them into the little girl’s room. She would drink while the men freely had their way with her daughter. I can’t imagine the screams and cries that were drowned out by a drunken haze.
(Image: A young girl plays with a puppy on the playground at Father’s House)
A seven year-old girl ended up in the Father’s House program after being rescued from constant physical and sexual abuse as a slave. Her impoverished parents had sold her to a gypsy family for such a purpose. When a family gets to the point of selling their own children in order to survive, especially when selling them into obviously horrible circumstances, the depth of human desperation and degeneration has reached its lowest point.
A six year old boy was taken off of the streets. He couldn’t talk and didn’t even know the name of his country. He could barely walk. He had apparently been forcibly confined to a wheelchair for years. He was not allowed to talk or get out of his prison on wheels, so that his family could use him as a prop as they begged on the streets of Kiev.
We see it time and time again – children treated as commodities in order to feed earnings or addictions.
And then there’s the story of Tatiana (not her real name). At eleven or twelve years of age, Tatiana was repeatedly tied to a metal bed and beaten severely by her alcoholic mother. During these and other beatings, her teeth were knocked out of her head. On one occasion the mother punished Tatiana by trying to cut the nose right off of her face.
During a particularly brutal episode, Tatiana’s head was forced into an oven and her hair caught on fire. The searing follicles were doused out by the pot of boiling water that was on the stovetop.
It has now taken sixteen surgeries to reconstruct Tatiana’s beautiful face. It took more work and time to reconstruct her sense of worth.
After ‘graduating’ the Father’s House program, Tatiana was adopted into a loving family and is now receiving a college education. Her nightmare turned into a dream.
(Image: A picture of Tatiana, after her reconstructive surgeries, hangs on the wall at Father’s House)
"We give them dreams," said Ruslan, the Director of Father’s House. "They come to us with no hope for tomorrow. They don’t know if tomorrow will even come for them. They have to live and survive in the present. They don’t know how to hope and dream. We give that back to them…or maybe give it to them for the first time."