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What awaits the graduates of state-run orphanages?

On June 11, 2015 in Ternopil Press Club the participants from public, philanthropic and government organizations discussed the problems of orphanage graduates, (orphans who have reached the age where they are required to leave the orphanage and fend for themselves for the first time), and summed up the annual training program "On the threshold of adult life, recently conducted by Orphans Future.

The representatives of Orphans Future Irina Vakaliuk and Andriy Nazarenko described the difficulties faced by orphans of state-run institutions and how Orphans' Future help future graduates to enter into an independent adult life. Natalia Kotsiuba, the representative of Caritas Organization described the skills that the orphans were taught during the six trainings. Natalia Moravska from Department of Education and Science of Ternopil Regional State Administration noticed the importance of cooperation between NGOs and institutions and their important role in helping the children. The youngest at the meeting was Mariana Didukh (14), an orphan graduate of 2015, who told about the skills that she gained during the trainings and how the skills will help her in the future.

Also in attendance were local TV stations such as TV4, TTB and INTB, and representatives of local newspapers who covered the conference with the aim of promoting a greater awareness in the general public of the issues facing orphan graduates.

Participants at the conference identified a number of problems which are actually faced by orphans and especially orphan graduates today:

- Insecurity that caused constant supervision in schools that dulls feeling of identity, self-esteem and positive development;

- Fear of not being accepted by society;

- The lack of a reliable mentor for psychological support;

- There are housing problems after graduation which the state cannot solve at all;

- Lack of understanding of the importance of the family and normal family relationships with the lack of family models in an orphanage;

- Consumer mentality of most graduates (somebody should) and no willingness to take responsibility to find solutions for problems for their own future;

- Inability to effectively manage own time and money.

Those directly involved in confronting these problems and finding solutions include the former orphan graduates and now volunteers of Orphans Future who spoke to the meeting. For the third year in a row they organized and conducted practical Life Skills trainings and camps on the theme, "On the threshold of adult life," supported by the Global Fund for Children and by kind people of Ternopil with the assistance of the Department of Education and Science of Ternopil Regional State Administration.

In respect of the Life Skills Training program held in Ternopil, Orphans Future would like to thank local Ternopil businesses which supported this project, including restaurants which assisted our catering needs, aqua park Limpopo and Podilany bowling and skating centre which provided recreational activities between training sessions and missionary organization, YWAM, which provided excellent accommodation facilities for the orphans and rooms in which the training was conducted.

During the conference chairman Andriy Nazarenko presented the brochure Nothing is Impossible and "From Orphanage to Success", written by former orphan graduate, Rostislav Galelyuk. Experienced life counselors were able to give much needed practical advice to orphan graduates to assist them in making deliberate choices for a successful independent adult life.

It became clear during the conference that orphan graduates need more than just material support from the general community. Orphans Future is planning soon to implement a social project, Mentor, with the aim to effectively help orphans and orphan graduates with much needed ongoing advice and moral support, from those who have experienced the same problems.

An important outcome was the local Ternopil television stations preparing a series of themes which were broadcast not only on local TV stations, but also in public transport of Ternopil. Also, local newspapers wrote articles about children who leave orphanages and enter independent adult living. Special thanks to these media outlets for their role in bringing to the attention of the wider community the real and present problems of orphan graduates and the mission of Orphans' Future to help them.

: 12 June 2015

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