PROSPECTS for Ukrainian orphans are bleak.
Effectively discarded by society, many end up involved in crime, drugs and prostitution.
That’s why a charity founded in Meltham is to open a different kind of orphanage in the impoverished Transcarpatia region of Ukraine.
Take Hope Yorkshire, founded in Meltham in 1995, will open St Alban’s House in Vynohradiv in March.
After the fall of communism and dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukrainian society and the country’s economy effectively fell apart.
While some individuals were able to make huge amounts of money, most Ukrainians were left in poverty as the country’s industries ground to a halt.
Today Ukraine – ranked in the top five poorest European countries – has about 120,000 ‘orphans’ whose parents have either died or are unable to look after their children due to poverty, health issues or drug and alcohol problems.
Most live in poor conditions at overcrowded state orphanages and receive very little education.
After being forced to leave an orphanage at 16, about two-thirds of boys will end up involved with crime and two-thirds of girls will become involved in prostitution.
Approximately one in six will commit suicide before they reach their mid-20s, the charity says.
Take Hope trustee Andrew McVeigh said: “State orphanages are in a dire situation. The children have no formal education and their prospects are terrible.
“Ukraine is a beautiful country but there is such a contrast between there and neighbouring Hungary. People don’t realise it, but Ukraine is poorer than some African countries.”
But St Alban’s House – named after the late Take Hope benefactor Alban Roddy – will provide a more caring environment for about 30 orphans aged five to 18.
Children at St Alban’s House will also be able to attend mainstream schools and obtain a proper education.
There will also be foster parents at the orphanage to create a more loving, nurturing environment.
Mr McVeigh, of Meltham, said: “They will be left with a real chance, rather than being discarded and left with no hope.
“We’re looking at developing more of these ‘family orphanages’. This will be the pilot project.”
Take Hope Yorkshire and its partners The Red Cross and Caritas have also been involved with other projects in Ukraine, including soup kitchens, the distribution of humanitarian aid, regional hospitals, state orphanages and health schemes.
For more about Take Hope Yorkshire visit: http://take-hope.org.uk
Take Hope Yorkshire hopes to open a charity shop in the Huddersfield area. If you have a premises to let call Andrew: 07969 166184 or email: email@example.com