‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Building A Dream

Road from the orphanage into the village above.
Although I am still in the midst of an adoption and that, along with keeping my business afloat, is my priority right now, I can't help but spend a good few hours before falling asleep, dreaming of that little cottage in the village of Visotky, above the orphanage.
One of the homes close to the orphange.

If you've been reading my blog, you know this vision has been there for awhile, but I didn't exactly know what purpose it was to serve. it's becoming clearer. First, I want to share that I pray for wisdom and insight about this every day. Slowly, in prayer and through the inspiration of others, I am gaining the confidence to move forward.
One of the bigger homes, with beautiful window-work.

We now know that a decent house in that tiny village costs less than $2,000. That is a manageable fundraising goal for the next few months. We also know that the children at this orphanage need so much more than the orphanage staff can give them. They are desperate for everything from being taught basic life skills to job training to emotional support to all kinds of advocacy. And there is only so much one can do from here abroad. Having a home base there will solve so many problems.
My FAVORITE house in the village..an artist obviously lives here!

The purpose of the home can evolve, too. Perhaps first it functions only as a home base for volunteers who wish to go over for stretches of time. Maybe later it can offer a place for job training -- computers are new to the area and any kind of computer training will mean work for those trained! Perhaps further along, it can evolve into a half-way house for those aging out of the orphanage.
Further up the road that leads to the school.

No matter what initial form it takes, this home will first and foremost show all that 'we mean business.' We are not going away, we are not trying to put a band aid on a bleeding wound and then leave. We are not going to forget them once an adoption or two is finalized.

I told the Director about my idea and of course, once again, she thought I was crazy. Not crazy because I was naive..but crazy because, as she said,  'Why would you want to spend time here?' I told a select few kids about our "dream" of buying a house there, and they were beyond excited. I told them that it would take a great deal of planning and time.
Coal delivery! It's common to see big piles of coal in front of the homes.

So, please weigh in. Of course I know I need to get the 501c3 status first. And of course I know I need a business plan , etc. All these things have been in the works for awhile. But do tell me about any ideas that have been percolating in your own mind about this. What do you see? How do you see it working? Do you envision yourself being a part of it? Fill me in!

And in the meantime, for the sake of the children there, don't forget to vote for this blog, here-- if you haven't already. 

Happy Brainstorming!

Yes, someone lives here. Another reason we could be of help there.


  1. Keri - you know I'm in. Fund raising and going there!

  2. Hmmm... As I read this Keri, I couldn't help but think how cool it could be to learn Russian, then go over for a couple of weeks each year to teach basic computer skills. A couple of things would need to happen... I need to get my own business to the point where it supports my family, then we'd be able to take off for a couple of weeks at a pop. I'd also (obviously) have to learn Russian. I wonder if, once you have your 501c3 status, Rosetta Stone might donate a Russian course DVD that you could pass around. Couldn't hurt to ask. You might at least get a discount. Just thinking! - SS

  3. My vision was Romania. Spent much time in a country where $600 a year was middle class and lovely. Little house near the orphanages would have cost maybe $400. Could totally have done it...would totally have done it. But I was called back here to do the things I do. I think this is a dream and you should go for it.

  4. i would love to come teach art and love on those kiddies..ill be watching from afar for the right time..

  5. Rosetta Stone doesn't make donations, not even to non-profits - I already asked if something like that was possible. They won't even give extra discounts. What they will do is give you the discount they offer once in a while automatically, even if it's not currently active. Maybe talking to one of their bigwigs will make a difference, but I got a pretty clear impression that isn't likely.

    As far as the house goes, you should definitely do this. It gives you a base when you visit, makes it clear that your intentions are serious, and makes it easier for others to join you where the help is needed most - near the kids.

  6. I think that a facility that offers real job skills and a safe place for the children to start building a safe adult life would be a great idea!
    What type of careers would be a good choice in the area? Computer skills are obvious, but are there other things? Several of my former students have gotten a cosmetology license and built their own business, is that something that could be done here as well? What other obstacles do the kids face in building an adult besides lack of family support? Professional connections? Advanced education? Business clothes? What would help, that most people just don't think about because it's not fancy or fun to look at?

  7. This is so exciting! I would LOVE to be a part of it. With a background in Occupational therapy, I see myself teaching activities of daily living skills, and working doing anything else, really. These kids are so traumatized. I would love to see a lot of counseling going on as well.

    These pictures look so much like the little village in the Vladimir region I spent time in...almost exact. Wow. My heart is still there...the kids need so much.

  8. Also, Children's Hope Chest does something similar to what you are talking about. They set up homes where the kids can go when they age out of the orphages. There is a mom and dad who act as foster parents for them, help them go to school, get job training, etc. Of course, thousands more homes like this are needed across russia.

  9. I'm an ESL and German teacher. I'd love to come and help with language instruction. Or even from afar, I can create materials and curriculum for you all, teacher training, too! Speaking of such. I have a few native Russian ESL teacher friends (that's a mouthful!), who might also be able to help... standby...

  10. Your dream of buying a house is so amazing. I really hope it comes to fruition, sending you my prayers and love.

  11. Keri, I have been following your blog for a long time and I would love to see something like this happen. It would mean so much to the kids for you to have a house there- knowing that you really are not going to leave and not come back. We will help you buy it and stock it with "stylish" Russian sofas and come over to help in it if we can!

  12. Job availability is bleak there for one major reason - the 'entrepreneurial spirit' hasn't existed there for almost a hundred years. Life skills are important ..very important. Opening their eyes to business opportunities like things as simple as fixing fences or making clothes would be huge. Computers are a big plus as well. I mean basic word processing would be very helpful. And use the barter system as well - cash is scarce there but people are not. You have to step back and insert yourself into a "1930's mentality" where people survived by pure toughness. I talked to my pastor today and he asked me to present the idea to our church mission team. Our church has gone to eastern Europe many times for a couple of weeks at a time. So we buy a house and have the first few mission teams focus on making the house western friendly along with helping the orphans. We get a few handymen with funds to buy materials from Novokuznetsk and we are off to the races. It is real important that we get a local to watch over the place while it is empty. I vision long term missions lasting a few years as an option as well. An idea is to also help the community help themselves.

  13. I think you should go for it, but why not aim higher. How much more would a larger house be, so there is room to house those that have aged out, and train them as well?

  14. I agree a bigger house is good. The key is the actual size of the lot the house is on and its proximity to the orphanage. With a decent size lot you could expand the house to fit future needs. Remember it gets real cold there so the better homes are actually made of cinder block instead of wood. The block lasts a lot longer and has better thermal properties. The cost of the materials is peanuts when compared to stuff here in the states. As you can see there are no building codes but building it with us code standards in mind will help ensure it lasts a long time. So while a bigger house may seem better up front there may be more work in rehabilitating it than just starting with a decent medium size and adding on to it.

  15. I would love to go and spend time in a place like this. I have a dream of working with orphans. I'm trying to get my own non-profit started to send handmade clothing and blankets to orphans in E. Europe and Russia (we're going to try and get blankets for the kids at the orphanage! all of them!) and I'm also in grad school for counseling psychology. My goal is to one day be an adoption counselor and to work with parents, children, and adoption officials. Being able to go and deliver clothing to the kids, made just for them, and to talk with them and counsel them, even if just for a week or two, would be an amazing opportunity.


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