Arkhangelsk Region, Russia – In recent developments, the Friends for Russian Orphans (FORO) and Adoption Associates have agreed to cooperate in raising necessary funds for aiding and supporting local orphanages throughout Russia. According to FORO cofounder Lisa Wurster, “…it would just be a natural fit that the people that working with AAI through the adoption process might ultimately be interested in providing some sort of ongoing assistance to the children that remain in the orphanages. We are the mechanism by which that can happen.”
This joint effort comes as a beacon of hope for many Russian orphans surviving in the stark poverty and harsh conditions of the impoverished nation. According to a census taken in 2000, there were no less than 700,000 orphans were reported. Of this number, thirty to forty percent of the children were of alcoholic families.
Moreover, statistic-wise few Russian orphans survive outside of the orphanages. According to a case study done on former orphans ages 16 to 17, of the test group selected, 50% fell into the high-risk category, 40% became drug-users, 40% were convicted felons, and 10% had committed suicide. Only 4% of the test group managed to receive university-level education.
Starting 18 months ago, FORO has brought much joy in the midst of such grim realities by providing much needed material and spiritual assistance. At the time of this writing, FORO continues to provide considerable aid to eight different orphanages throughout Russian—seven of which are located in the Arkhangelsk region.
When asked about FORO’s mission goal, Wurster commented, "The purpose of 'Friends Of Russian Orphans' is to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to Russian orphans and their caregivers through practical assistance and friendship programs. Really, what we're trying to do is provide both material and spiritual assistance to the thousands of children that remain in the orphanages that aren't going to be adopted."
In this spirit, FORO has initiated several mission projects including a Russo-American spiritual friendship pen-pal program, and a buy-a-bike program aiming to supply bicycles and tricycles to several orphanages. In addition to initiating these major programs, FORO has also provided sports equipment, musical instruments, Bibles, and vehicles needed to transport children to medical appointments.
Though the situation in orphanages remains difficult, organizations like FORO continue to bring happiness to Russian orphans in providing much needed love. Through FORO, many orphans come to realize the deep love in God’s spiritual family – living in a better hope for the future.