Odessa

In Odessa in 1996 another child oriented initiative began to take shape. The Ohr Somayach Institution approached the local authorities in Kiev and Odessa to ask for a licence to open and operate two private Jewish orphanages. Recognising that the plight of abandoned children in the region had reached appalling levels the authorities agreed.

Children in the care of local authorities were subject to terrible maltreatment and sub-human conditions while others not in official care were living wild in basements, bus stations and other public places.

Having opened in September 1996 with 3 boys, within months the first centre quickly expanded to provide a home for 30 boys. A similar home was then opened to cater for a similar number of girls.

The children had not only to be fed and treated with love and care but had to be taught how to live in a house again and interact with other people in a safe environment. With no experience of schooling the educational process had to be tailored to help them adjust to this new way of living.

Now, in 2002, the orphanages care for 110 children from 18 months old to adulthood with their 4 special Jewish schools currently educating 580 children. The professional staff working in the orphanages and schools include doctors, psychologists, counsellors and teachers specially trained to understand the needs of these damaged children.

While the orphanages are proving their worth each day it is clear that over four times as many Jewish children still live in peril and that many other non-Jewish children have not had their needs addressed.

At present there is no national or local government funding available to support the Kiev and Odessa Orphanages. All the funds required to keep the existing homes open and provide for an urgent expansion of the projects must be privately financed. The current budget shortfall to keep all the exisiting services running is $400,000.

The One to One Children’s Fund has already made a small contribution to the running costs of the Odessa orphanages and will continue to raise money to help keep these children off the streets.