Eastern Europe

While living in Uganda our hearts and minds have been learning so much about the orphan crisis here, in Uganda. We've loved learning about the culture and meeting some amazing children called orphan, but our hearts and mission reach further than the boarders of this African country.
We are a world wide orphan care ministry. A lot of our future work will not be in Uganda and that is a good thing. You see, we want to educate and inspire people to get involved in the lives of orphans everywhere, not just in Uganda. And that's why we're excited to start sharing more of the world with you all soon!
Rewind to August of 2011. Nick and I were documenting our first adoption in Bulgaria, and to be quite honest I told myself I would probably never come back to Eastern Europe. The orphan world looks dramatically different in this area and I just couldn't see myself coping with anymore of the hard things we saw in the state run institutions.
God's funny like that, right? He calls us into the hard places, in the the broken systems because He is there. And if He is there, my friend, there is hope!
I now look at Eastern Europe, and the hard realities for abandoned children and teens as something that the world needs to know about. There are organizations and ministries that are partnering together with the governments across EE to help bring change and a future to these children! And soon, very soon, we'll be inviting you all in to learn, serve and help!
For now, we want to share a few facts about some of the orphan issues taking place in Eastern Europe. This is by no means a comprehensive picture of the situation in Eastern Europe; we are no experts and don't wish to trivialize the conditions there. Our goal through these facts and figures is simply to introduce you to the situation happening.

- In Eastern Europe, less than 50% of the orphan population will live to see their 20th birthdays. (Eastern Europe consists of Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, the Ukraine and the most western part of the Russian Federation)

- Economic realities in the east of Europe have resulted in child abandonment (Euro-orphans), exploitation, denial of the right to education, and all forms of human trafficking and forced transportation.

- Throughout 2011, in one EE country the size of Minnesota, almost 950 children were abandoned in maternity hospitals.

- The number of employees in state institutions diminishes every year. Funding for state institutions is not adequate, and even underpaid staff are in short supply. This leaves a high number of children to workers often times resulting in dangerous situations. The high child to staff ratio means that adults often must make difficult choices, or cannot adequately nurture and care for the basic needs of the children in their care.

- The Roma people (gypsies) are one of Europe's largest minority groups and it's most disadvantaged.

-"Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to trafficking in poverty status. Because people in poverty have few means of supporting themselves, they often have to go to extremes to keep their families afloat. Children are also vulnerable to trafficking when their families’ socio-economic situation is dire. Girls are more likely to be sold into bondage because in many societies, parents often choose to invest in their sons because sons are seen as more valuable. Girls are not educated and are sent away to work. Human trafficking helps perpetuate the forced labor participation and global poverty. Lower income countries are often the sources for the girls and higher incomes countries is where they are bought."