is a Slavonic country located in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, and the Ukraine. Following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, and the breakup of the U.S.S.R in 1991, the Belarussian economy took a landslide, which resulted in a significant lowering of living standards. Bad nutrition, widespread pollution, and a growing number of social diseases such as tuberculosis and hepatitis, are rampant throughout the country. Seventy percent of the population lives below the poverty line. In 1999, the average monthly salary was twenty American dollars. The typical pension was eight dollars, with thirty percent of the population living on a pension.
Initially concealed by the Soviet authorities, Belarus was the region worst hit by the Chernobyl disaster, with 75% of the fall out landing on it’s territory, and around one-fifth of it’s area seriously affected. By 1990 two million people, 20% of the country’s forests, and well over 25,000,000 acres of agricultural land had been contaminated. It is estimated that today more than two million people in Belarus alone still live in contaminated areas. People still till their fields, herd cattle and eat the produce of their labors. Medical experts expect as many as 40% of children exposed to Chernobyl’s radiation to develop thyroid cancer over the next 30 years.
The people of Chernobyl were exposed to radiation levels 90 times greater than that of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs combined. According to the UN, there is now a real threat to the gene pool of Belarus with the second generation children even more likely to suffer side effects. It is currently estimated that it will take up to 400 years to rid Belarus of contamination.
There are over 30,000 orphans in Belarus. Each year, the number grows by at least 5,000. The majority of them (86 percent) are social orphans-- children whose parents have had their parental rights taken away or who have voluntarily forfeited them. Most lose their rights because of excessive alcohol and/or drug abuse.
The mental health of Belarussian children has undergone an alarming decline: 11 percent of children up to the age of fourteen experience abnormal psycho-physical development, most of which the Chernobyl tragedy is responsible for. However, much of the blame lies with parents who turn to excessive alcohol/drug consumption, which in turn results in abused and neglected children. The Belarussian government does not have a foster-care system. Instead, orphans are sent to orphanages, where they are raised by various government employees. Many of the orphanages accept help from foreign organizations because the government simply cannot support the hundreds of “children’s homes” throughout the land. Almost every orphanage is laboring under multi-million ruble debts, with no hope of repaying any time soon. This situation has resulted in a lowering of living conditions within the homes, and in turn, the children are the ones who suffer by forfeiting their health as well as physical and mental development.
“Some churches in Belarus are supporting orphans by providing them with fresh food, clothing and teaching them about the love of Jesus,” say Peter Kopets, pastor at Slavic Church of Mercy, a Slavic church based in Spokane, WA, USA. “We emigrated from Belarus in 1990s and we support many churches that care for orphans in Belarus. We believe the Word of God where it says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27 NIV). “Please help. Orphans in Belarus need your help.”
For more information about orphans in Belarus and how you can support this ministry, please visit website ChristiansNewswire.com and click on Charity link