Good News Church Christmas Camp
One of the exciting outcomes of our work training church leaders is seeing the different ways they go on to impact their communities. Some go on to plant churches, others go on to start slum ministries, others still go on to run compassion projects, like summer camps for orphans.
In Ukraine, one of the most marginalised sub-groups our churches work with are orphans with mental and physical handicaps. Many of these children live in orphanages as their parents are unable or unwilling to look after them. Despite the best intentions of a minority of very good staff, while living at the orphanages many children receive very little in the way of social interaction or attention, many are left to their own devices, and some remain consigned to their beds or bedrooms. A recent BBC exposé documented several deaths during filming due to neglect in one of the “more caring” institutions. Because of the difficulties of working with such children, there is little interest from the wider community in helping mentally and physically disabled children in orphanages.
One of our partner churches, the Good News Church, has been developing relationships with one such orphanage in Sumskaya (Sumy) Oblast, near the border with Belarus in northern Ukraine, where they are attending to social and emotional needs not currently being met by state care. Last Christmas they were really keen to run a Christmas camp so that they could provide a really special end to the year. However they lacked the money to run the type of fun event they wanted for the kids.
After approaching a variety of foundations in the UK we raised some money to allow the camp to go ahead. It was a real pleasure being part of such a valuable outreach.
Igor Grishajev, Global Action national director in Ukraine, reports that the orphanage houses 67 children living in great poverty, and who have little connection with the outside world. Most of the children don’t own any toys and those knocking around the orphanage are all broken. Yet the children love even these broken toys. Sadly, they don’t have family members to bring them new toys or presents at Christmas.
Over a period of a few days at Christmas, a team from the Good News Church visited the orphanage and ran festive crafts, games and activities with the children. The aim was to give the kids a positive and happy time at Christmas. They also brought presents for all the kids, and one of the team (dressed up as Santa) handed out the presents. The team made a real effort to give the kids a really wonderful Christmas celebration, with lots of attention and focus on the children.
While they were there the team also told the children about God’s love for them and how important they are in His eyes. The children were particularly impressed with how many of the bible heroes they heard about were young people like themselves.
We are really grateful that the Good News Church could run this camp as it has helped further build relationships between the church and this orphanage. This is essential if our partner churches are to continue providing essential social and emotional care for these kids, which is not currently being met by the state or other charities.