The Boy From Orphanage #3

The garden had begun to feel like a futile endeavor. No sooner would the seeds begin to sprout than their tender shoots were trampled underfoot by casual, indifferent feet. They needed a fence.

Tolik heard the staff at the New Hope group home in Zaporozhye talking, and thought, “Finally, an opportunity to give back.” Although he had studied at trade school for over three years and was now working as a welder, he had never done this kind of project before. It would be a challenge. But Tolik had already faced, and overcome, so many challenges in his life.

“My parents divorced when I was very young,” Tolik remembers. “Grandfather held our family together, but when he died, mother could not cope. Social Services took my brother and me away. I was five years old.” He had felt crushed, much like the seedlings in New Hope’s garden. Tolik spent his early years in a children’s shelter, before becoming a ward of the state, sent to “Orphanage # 3”. There, he was just another statistic destined to be turned out into the street at age sixteen and left to make his own way in the world.

“The orphanage sheltered me,” he shares, “but it taught me nothing about how to be courageous, how to make wise decisions, how to think well.” Orphanage #3 cared for his basic needs, but it was an institution, not a home. When Tolik was invited to live in one of New Hope’s group homes, his life changed. Suddenly he was part of a family, along with four other young men. He eagerly embraced each challenge; learning how to cook, manage his finances, and communicate socially. And he learned that he was not just another state orphan, but an individual of infinite worth, crafted in the image of God. Knowing that gave meaning and purpose to his life. He gave his heart to Jesus, and now reaches out to other orphans.

The fence took fifteen full days for Tolik to complete. Even with his very busy life, he gladly found time to work, knowing that young plants would now be safe and protected, treasured just as he had been.

By Nikki White

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