Boots on the Ground: CERI in Ukraine


Employees and supporters of Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) headed to Ukraine for the 2018 Shoe Mission, helping deliver warm boots to children from struggling circumstances as the Shoe Mission has for 19 years across 22 mission trips.

For this year’s Shoe Mission, Ukraine was chosen as the destination of service because of the need CERI witnessed in the country. In 2014, Ukraine’s economy fell to the second lowest GDP per capita in Europe. Such a high poverty rate adds to the risk of separation between parents and children, and increases the likelihood that children will be placed in an orphanage or other institutional facility. Currently there are more than 100,000 children in Ukraine who either lost their parents or were separated from their parents due to war, abuse, or extreme poverty.

Though they cannot spare children completely from the situations they may face, CERI visited the country at the end of December to once again offer relief. The Shoe Mission team spent more than eight days helping children from the cities of Kherson and Odessa in the country of Ukraine. Two organizations – My Home and Heritage – served as partners with CERI to make the distribution process in Ukraine effective. While in the area, 27 CERI volunteers helped deliver 5,000 pairs of warm winter socks and boots to the orphans.

Though it may seem like a small gift from the perspective of more temperate parts of the world, sturdy winter boots give children the freedom of mobility to face the winter season in Ukraine, where at least three months of the year have an average low temperature below the freezing point, and where 40 days of the year are predicted to see snowfall[1]. With torn and tattered shoes, children often suffer frostbite and are unable to attend school due to the harsh temperatures and snow and ice they must trudge through. 

Circumstances like these are complicated and demanding for the children they affect, but the resilience and hope that CERI witnesses in the young people they serve remains evident. Throughout their travels in the orphanages of Ukraine, CERI volunteers were regularly treated to special Christmas shows from the children they visited, sometimes even being offered the chance to participate. Connie Belciug, Executive Director of CERI, shared that although there were some unexpected delays and unavoidable hurdles during the trip, the end result was another successful investment into the lives of children in need.

CERI raised a total of $117,036.72 from more than 100 donors for the 2018 Shoe Mission. Half of those proceeds were used to purchase the boots needed to keep children warm, and half help provide personal case management that ensures more children are given a family to call their own.

Read more about how CERI is helping the lives of children in Eastern Europe, and view photos from Shoe Mission 2018 here.


[1] https://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/ukraine#odessa

BBQ With CERI & Friends Offers Reflection

 

Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) and a humble group of its partners joined together for a night of sweet celebration and barbecue at the home of Jim and Vera Clark in Kingwood, Texas.

The BBQ with CERI Friends annual event was established as a way to say thank you to CERI’s friends and partners and provide an update on the accomplishments of the year. The party began late in the afternoon in the Clarks’ backyard, decorated appropriately for the occasion. Dearing Garner, Director of Pastoral Care, commenced the evening’s festivities with a blessing.

Once the sun set and things cooled down, the event hit its stride as guests settled around the pool where Connie Belciug, Executive Director of CERI, introduced Eileen Purkeypile as CERI’s new Director of Development and Marketing.

Connie then addressed the crowd with a message of appreciation, compassion, and encouragement. “God has built multiple layers of protection and provision around children, so that they would be truly safe and so that their needs would be met,” said Connie. “He created the family to surround children with love, He wrapped a community around the family to provide support, and He situated the community within a nation to uphold the rights of its children and families.”

At the conclusion of the event, Connie thanked all in attendance, as well as the many contributors worldwide who have supported CERI since its inception in 1999. “These are the best gifts you can give an orphan: a path to family here on earth and a path to family in Christ,” said Connie.

CERI and the BCFS System thank Jim and Vera Clark for opening their home for this event, and for their heartfelt hospitality.

 

To learn more about Children’s Emergency Relief International, visit cerikids.org

Meenojan: Triumph Over Tragedy

*Featured in BCFS’ annual together magazine

By Anita Ramesh

Photo: Meenojan

Looking sharp in his black suit, it’s hard to tell Meenojan’s successful demeanor masks the tragic experiences he suffered as a child. When he was just four years old, his mother died of cancer. Shortly after, his father abandoned the family. In an instant, his whole life changed.

I wish to share with everyone that being successful does not depend on your background,” Meenojan says. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to CERI who helped me overcome challenges in my life. I extend my deepest gratitude and appreciation to CERI. At the same time, I will never forget my roots and where I came from.

At 13, he entered the foster care program operated by Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) – the overseas arm of BCFS – in Sri Lanka, a small island nation off the southern coast of India. CERI’s foster care program serves children and youth like Meenojan in need of family placement, providing case management and a stable home environment, as well as support for food, clothing and education.

Photo: Meenojan

Meenojan’s CERI case worker tried to help him pursue higher education, but Meenojan was unsuccessful in qualifying for school. Desperate to earn some money, he searched for any opportunity to work odd jobs and became a laborer in a local temple.

In his spare time, Meenojan continued his attempts to get into school or a vocational training program. Three months later, with help from CERI, Meenojan was admitted to a vocational school to learn hotel management, where he was recognized as an outstanding student for his hard work and dedication to his studies.

Today, Meenojan is an 18-year-old young man working in one of Sri Lanka’s premier hotels, making a good living to support himself.


CERI is the international arm of the BCFS system of health and human service non-profit organizations

Healing from the inside out

Healing From The Inside Out

By Ecaterina Babin

*Featured in BCFS’ annual together magazine

Cristina was born in Moldova, the youngest sibling of four older brothers. Her mother was addicted to alcohol and became increasingly violent and abusive as her drinking worsened. She brutally beat Cristina, while her father did nothing to protect her. Her father neglected Cristina and her brothers, staying away from home as much as possible to avoid the harsh reality that his family was suffering.
Cristina’s mother died of a cerebral stroke in 2009. Even though Cristina has traumatic memories of her mother, she still misses her.
When she was 12, Cristina started having health problems. She had surgery on her appendix and later began experiencing epileptic seizures. She developed a spine tumor – all the while, her father showed no interest in helping her get critical medical treatment. Cristina was put on medical disability and spent most of her time at the hospital. Despite that, she managed to finish middle school with good grades.
After undergoing another surgery in 2011, Cristina found herself with no money or permanent place to live. A woman who worked at the hospital told Cristina about Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI), the overseas division of BCFS. Cristina wanted to start a new life and get an education, but her dreams felt hopelessly out of reach. In the fall of 2012, she asked CERI for help.
Cristina spent the next three years in CERI’s Transitional Care program, which provides case management, access to education and vocational training, financial literacy and life skills training, and guidance on how to avoid human traffickers that run rampant in the region. CERI helped place Cristina in a Christian center where she started going to church, and ultimately professed her faith in Christ. Soon after, she was accepted into the Christian University to study social work.
Things were looking up for Cristina! She enjoyed her college classes, and had a new church “family” to encourage her – but she was still very ill. She was hospitalized several more times that year, and ultimately underwent radiation therapy.
Today, she has a clean bill of health, she feels much better and believes that God has healed her. Cristina is in her third year of college and going to class in the evenings. She is a member of New Testament Church in Chisinau, Moldova, where she serves in their Sunday school program.