Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Why Latvia

People often ask us "Why Latvia?". The most important reason is that God has turned our hearts toward Latvia. There are a disproportionate number of orphans in Latvia for the size of the population. Often times families or individuals who have the desire to help simply can't for a lack of resources. There is little hope for the orphans to recieve help in Latvia. Here are some heartbreaking statistics and facts that have been shared with us:

Last year a survey was taken of over 1000 children in Latvia. Here are the results:
  • 54% of surveyed children do not have enough to eat
  • 62% do not have sufficient clothing
  • 44% don't have electricity, heating, hot water or cold water at home
  • 39% said they cannot turn to doctors for help with medical needs
  • 52% cannot afford to buy the medicine they need
  • 80% live in families where parents/guardians drink heavily
  • 79% said they don't wish to study
  • 53% don't have the study materials they need
  • 66% said they don't have anyone to talk to, to share their thoughts with, ask advice of
  • 32% think of commiting suicide
The statistics are even more heartbreaking for the orphans of Latvia:
  • The older an orphan gets, the chances for his/her adoption drastically decrease.
  • Each year many orphans between 15 to 18-years-old leave the orphanages.
  • Most of these orphans have no one to turn to for help.
  • About 10% of them will commit suicide after leaving the orphanage before their 18th birthday.
  • 60% of the girls will end up in prostitution.
  • 70% of the boys will enter a life of crime.
  • Only 27% of these youth will find work.

From an article titled "Plight of Orphaned Children in Latvia":

Latvia is one of the smallest countries in Eastern Europe and also one of the poorest, with children often bearing the brunt of chronic poverty. Since the fall of communism, the ex Soviet Republics have struggled to move towards true democracy and a free economy. Living standards have declined dramatically over the past decade and many families – particularly those with single parents - are living below the poverty line.
Amid these tough social and economic conditions, some mothers cannot cope and either abandon their children or give them up to orphanages. Hundreds of thousands of children in Eastern Europe and post-Soviet countries currently live in such institutions.
These post-Soviet children’s homes and orphanages are overcrowded, run-down, and under-funded. Even in some of the ‘best equipped’ orphanages, children are undernourished and physically small for their age. Education standards vary wildly due to limited budgets and other priorities, and children have very few life or work skills to enable them to integrate back into society. Most lack the proper education needed to be admitted to the secondary educational facilities, or they drop out quickly if they manage this feat due to the pressures of providing for themselves without proper support. The majority of youths have nowhere to go once they reach the age of 18 and must exit the only home that most have ever known. A life in the streets leading to crime, prostitution, alcohol and drug abuse is the destiny of most of these young people.
These orphans are easy prey for sex and slave traffickers. According to Amnesty International, young women and girls, often vulnerable because of economic deprivation or for having already been physically abused, are easy targets. They dream of a better life, which the traffickers promise when they offer them "work" in the West. Instead of getting a proper job, the women and girls find themselves trapped, enslaved, forced into the sex industry.
Trafficked women and girls are exposed to a series of human rights abuses, including abduction, deprivation of liberty and denial of freedom of movement, torture and ill treatment, including psychological threats, beatings and rape. To escape their devastating life, suicide is unfortunately the only option some of these children feel is available to them.

"We know what love is because Christ gave His life for us. We should give our lives for our brothers. What if a person has enough money to live on and sees his brother in need of food and clothing? If he does not help him, how can the love of God be in him? My children, let us not love with words or in talk only. Let us love by what we do and in truth."

1 John 3:16-18

No comments: