“The vision of Wide Awake is to bring dignity, love, and hope to people with disabilities in Ukraine.”
If you’ve hung around here for a while you know that our big, God-size dream is to open small group homes for our boys to live out their days. The dream is to remove the boys from their horrible reality and insert them into safe, loving, warm environments where they can get all the love and help they need for the rest of their lives. They will play and receive therapy and sleep in soft, warm beds. They will be surrounded by music and laughter. If they are able to work they will garden and care for animals and work with their hands. Our boys need occupation. They need to contribute to the world around them. It brings meaning to their lives. The dream is for them to be IN the city, not hidden away from society. The dream is for them to have the opportunity to become all that God has created them to be, surrounded by people who love them, treasure them, and believe in them.
We’ve got big dreams around here. We’re dreaming big, believing that God has great futures in mind for our boys.
We will not believe that God’s best for them is to lay in bed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, staring at blank walls. We will not believe that spending the next 20 years rocking back and forth on a bench is God’s hope for their future.
We know God wants more for our boys and we know that He uses people as his hands and feet in the world.
Last year it became apparent that less money needed to be spent improving the physical living conditions of the boys, and more money needed to be spent placing loving, consistent people in their lives. To answer that need, through a three-way partnership with Hands of Hope (funded by their child-sponsorship program), Mission to Ukraine (local non-profit acting as fiscal agent), and Wide Awake (hiring and training) we were able to hire two full-time teachers who teach the bigger boys Monday through Friday. That need is also being answered by an increase in the amount of time our team spends with the boys each week. Since last spring there have been teams going to visit the boys 3 days a week. The team has grown in number and in love. It is a truly beautiful thing.
Now I am so very happy to report that the need is being answered in yet another way. INTERNS!
Our family attends a wonderful church in Zhytomyr: Христианской Молодежной Церкви (Christian Youth Church). Youth Church is our family in Ukraine. God has done a wonderful thing in partnering us together. Almost all of our team comes from Youth Church, and Wide Awake gave Youth Church a grant to carry on the work of bringing teams to the boys while our family is here in the US. Youth Church has done a FANTASTIC job of growing the team, and now the work in Romaniv has become an official ministry of our church! Vika, the team leader for Romaniv, has just rocked it. We are so proud of her and the whole team and are honored to call Youth Church our Ukrainian home. 🙂
Youth Church, in partnership with Wide Awake, is now sending three interns to Romaniv three days a week! The interns were picked from our team. Maxim, Tanya, and Mira have been volunteering at Romaniv since October 2014. They have been faithful, loving, extremely dedicated, and committed to the boys. This is not a project for them. This is their love. The three interns are university students who are doing this paid internship in addition to their schooling. They will be with the boys for six hours, three days a week, and are an answer to prayer. Jed began their training when he was in Ukraine in October, and then our dear friend Olya, an OT, continued their training when Jed came back to the US. Thank you to Salem Vineyard, our sending church in Oregon, whose child-sponsorship helps to pay for this exciting new venture!
Yesterday was their first day on the job and we are all so excited! Maxim, Tanya, and Mira’s focus is on the boys in the Isolation Hall, since the teachers are not working with those boys. They have divided the Isolation boys up between themselves and will each work with the same boys every day they are there. They are beginning with performing functional assessments on each boy and then setting individual goals for the development of each boy. Their work is more focused and therapeutic because they have the ability to give their time and attention to the same boys each day.
We are looking forward to awesome results! Even just their consistent, positive presence is life-changing for our friends.
Do you know what that means? That means that between our teams and the interns, we have loving, energetic, amazing youth spending time with the boys SIX DAYS A WEEK!!!!!! Freaking out excited!!!!! That’s not even counting the teachers who are there Monday through Friday and teams who visit from other churches. PRAISE GOD!
I remember back to the spring of 2014 when Jed and I decided to start going to Romaniv on a second day each week. It was just the two of us going to Romaniv alone, asking God to bring more help…and now this. God is so amazingly faithful.
We believe that all of this loving presence is preparing the boys for the lives of freedom that await them.
Soon my Friends, soon you will be free. But in the meantime, I hope you can see how many people love you so dearly.