The average life expectancy of a teenager leaving a Russian orphanage is 30 years. Without guidance, these teens slide into depression, alcoholism, and drugs. The Change 30 Orphan Graduate Life Skills Program teachs orphan graduates how to adapt to life outside of the orphanage. Mentors, both native Russian and American, facilitate weekly sessions in a graduate orphan center, as well as in personal homes. Skills taught during these sessions include tangible topics on finance, health, cooking, but also cover topics on integrity, responsibility, generosity, etc.
The life skills program battles the impossible odds that each orphan graduate faces coming out of the orphanage environment - that 9 out of 10 orphan graduates will deal with drug and alcohol issues, become pregnant within a year, serve time in prison or commit suicide. This program gives them a better chance at being the 1 in 10 that does not fall into these issues, and becomes a contributing member of society.
Graduates of the program are now leading other orphans through the classes. Just in the Kaliningrad region alone, there are over 1,000 orphans. Also, we actively work to build relationships with the orphans that are not yet graduated, and still living in the orphanage. Our hope is that by having this relationship in place at an early stage, that they will look to Change30 upon graduation.
Post-orphan kids face challenges across eastern Europe as well as many areas of the world that face orphan challenges. This program is a model for other missions in areas with post-orphanage challenges.
Orphans are a challenge in many countries. Once they are 18 they are often left to fend for themselves with no friends, funds or life skills. Change30 is solving this problem with a post-orphan program in Kaliningrad, Russia.