Update: Ivankiv Learning Center
By Jeff Thompson (in photo on right)
Ivankiv Learning Center Equips at-risk Young People
I recently visited one of our Christian Centers for educating at-risk young people. It is the Ivankiv Learning Center. Staffed with Christian believers, this center in northern Ukraine is nearest the Chernobyl nuclear contaminated zone. We started the Ivankiv Learning Center by helping needy kids affected by Chernobyl. The mother I am standing with is Oxsana Parkhomenko who was one of the early children in our Chernobyl program. She came by to say “thank you” to me and her Mercy Projects sponsors and to introduce me to her children, 11 year-old Kolya and 10 year-old Yaroslava, who both have sponsors and now attend the Learning Center three days per week.
Give today to continue the work at the Ivankiv Center
Oxsana handed me a basket of flowers and shared her heart: “I want to thank you and our sponsors. I was in your program and I want my children to be in your program as well. Their father left me, I am a single mother now, but I want my kids to learn faith in God. They spend as much time here at the Center as possible. I always know where to find them. Thank you for helping me and giving a future to my children.”
We both wiped our eyes a little and I gave her a hug. Life is tough in Ukraine but doubly difficult as a single parent. In general, all of the kids love to come to the Center. That is very important. They want to be there.
Our Ivankiv Learning Center is actually a joint project with the local social services department. We teach the bible there, share the gospel of Christ, and educate at-risk children and their families. We use the facility for free but we provide staff to provide the classes and ministries. Unexpectedly I walked into a small classroom and found a group of young people studying Noah’s Ark.
I quizzed them about Noah and the kids excitedly raised their hands. I think we had some future pastors in the class!
Sponsorship Needed at Ivankiv Learning Center
Sveta Kushnir is the vice director of the Center and a Mercy Projects sponsorship coordinator. She is excited that the Learning Center can continue to offer bible studies, English classes, computer lessons and other services to the local community.
“We are so thankful that Mercy Projects assists us in serving at-risk children,” Sveta said. “Without the support of MP I do not know how our children could learn and grow like they are. They are so excited to come to the Center. We are a small town without many resources. The classes and counseling available to young people and families here at the Center mean the difference between hope and despair for them.”
We celebrated our 20 year anniversary of sharing the gospel and renewed our commitment to educate at-risk young people in this region.
Sveta went on to say; “You have changed our city. They are aware of how much you have helped our families here. And you inspire us to continue to serve the Lord and serve people.”
“After the nuclear meltdown nobody wanted to live here”
Sveta and I reminisced and she commented how after the nuclear meltdown nobody wanted to live there anymore. Sveta shared; “One of the new girls, Inna Orehova, said to her Mom; ‘Mom, please, let me come here every day! There are so many interesting things and so many children!'”
Sveta went on to say; “The skills and knowledge that the children receive in the Center enables them to find their way in the future. Christian lessons give them knowledge about faith in God, about creation, and about the love of the Lord. We are very thankful to Mercy Projects for helping us help our children.”