This Christmas Means Warm Classrooms and Dental Visits
The Hearts Of Love Story – About 13 years ago, a small group of mothers, each with a handicapped child, gathered to discover how they could support each other. Lena Yuschenko, the leader of the group, took the train to Kiev to see if Mercy Projects would consider helping them. At that time, children with special needs were usually placed in orphanages, out of sight from society. We agreed to help, and the Hearts of Love Center was born in a broken down, 100-year-old building that Lena dreamed of turning into a place of love and acceptance for special needs children.
Today, that building is a beacon of God’s love, staffed by mothers and teachers who love and train the 55 special needs children registered there. The doors are open all winter, rain, snow, or shine, including Bible studies on Saturdays.
Every Winter Day, Children Trek to the Center
Each day, 12-year-old Dima and his mother walk a couple of miles from their tiny village home in freezing temperatures across icy dirt roads to the Hearts of Love Center. For most of us living in America or Europe, this challenging journey would simply be too much to ask. Not so, however, for Dima and his mom.
Yes, there is usually lots of snow in winter, and yes, the weather is bad and it is a long walk with a 12-year-old who is autistic. After being kicked out of the public school system because of his autism, however, the walk doesn’t seem so long. Actually, their daily slip-slide through the ice is a journey full of hope.
“In the past, families like Dima’s would just sit at home and have nowhere to go,” said Hearts of Love Director, Lena. “They are so glad to be here. There is no place else for them to go and find help.”
We Accept Children As They Are
“The public schools don’t know how to cope with his autism,” Lena said of Dima. “Our Center is the only place they can go to, and you know, we love all of the children just as they are.”
Lena continued. “Another autistic boy at the Center is five-year-old Zhenya. His mother is taking care of him 24/7 and those few hours she can drop her son here are a blessing and an opportunity to have a little break and do some things that are not possible to do with him around. She is very grateful.”
This Winter Our Christmas Giving Keeps Them Warm!
“Winter time is the most difficult, both for us working at the Center and for the parents and children. The weather is cold and gray, and it adds to the depression everyone feels. Then, the parents bring their children and the Center can be cold inside because we cannot afford to heat the building,” Lena said.
Lena, the parents, and the kids are so grateful that they no longer just sit at home alone. The Center is like a lifeline for these families.
As part of our Christmas Project this year, we are going to bless these families with warm classrooms all winter long. Mercy Projects replaced the antique heating system this year and now, as heating prices rise, they need our extra help at Christmas. All the kids will get a small present and a Christmas party, but our first goal is to keep the heat flowing throughout the building. This winter nobody will need to huddle around the heaters to stay warm!
Christmas Dental Checkups
A major issue for vulnerable children from needy families is dental health. This is something they cannot afford. This year, we hope to provide dental care for hundreds of children as part of their “Christmas present” from their sponsors.
The MP Christmas Fund will profoundly impact young lives. We cooperate with Christian dentists to provide the initial checkup, and then determine how much follow-up care is needed. Gifts of $25, $50, and $100 or more will be pooled together in the Christmas Fund to provide dental care, along with warm classrooms, for as many children as possible.
Christmas will be a very special time for all the kids. Lena shared how they are already busy preparing the children to perform dramas and dances. She concluded by saying, “We feel your support and we see God transforming the lives of our children and their families. Thank you dear friends of Mercy Projects!”