Gangs, crime, prostitution, homelessness – with limited skills and resources, the options orphans and other marginalized youth face are few. An estimated 60-70% of former orphans become involved in prostitution or organized crime; another 10-15% commit suicide by age eighteen. Hopelessness abounds.

Yet, hidden in each of these young people is the treasure of God’s image: who they are created to be.

Adding to this problem is the emigration of more than one million skilled Ukrainians to Poland and other European countries since 2015. Deputy Prime Minister Hennadiy Zubko characterizes this as “…one of the greatest threats facing Ukraine after military aggression” while a former head of national intelligence calls it “a national tragedy”.

This has created a vacuum of workforce and leadership which, with the proper motivation and training, graduates from SMU’s Vigoda New Life Center and other marginalized youth could help provide to a desperate Ukraine.

But is rehab enough to turn the hidden treasure of these outcasts of society into the answer to Ukrainian society?

Samaritan Ministries Ukraine has long realized the need to provide skills and job training to the addicts in recovery. As one graduate stated, “With God’s help addicts can be set free, but unless they are given skills and the opportunity to earn a living, they will soon fall right back into using.” In 2001 Good Samaritan Dieter Wienss had the vision of establishing a welding school and business. It has been very successful but much more is needed.

SMU is now embarking on an intensive program by building a Samaritan Training Center in the village of Vigoda. The recovered addicts and young adults will live in community – instructed, supervised and mentored by highly qualified teachers and program directors. Each will be given opportunity to grow in essential life skills including work ethics and healthy living from a social, emotional, physical and spiritual perspective. Practical job-related skills training will be provided, including conversational English, food preparation and restaurant skills, farming, food processing, construction, business and computer skills.

This is an extremely exciting venture. Please join us in prayer for wisdom and guidance as we plan, develop curriculum, and search for and a couple to direct the program – designed to help young people to realize their true identity in Christ.

Alex Brzhezitskyy, National Director Nancy B. Miller, Executive Director Tim Miller, Financial Director Margie Mach, Operational Director