Yesterday we visited a 16 year old girl Anna (name changed) who lives at a “social institution” in Armenia. We heard about the great things Anna was doing for the other children like teaching them how to protect themselves against trafficking and making a video about it. We wanted to meet her in-person to learn from and encourage her.
To be honest, I didn’t understand where I was going when we arrived. I thought it was just a school with some additional vocational classes or something. As Anna was showing us around and talking to us, she eventually made it to her “room”. I thought this was going to be her classroom, but then I saw a room full of beds. She lived there? Yes. Was this a boarding school? No, it was what they call a social institution. (A biological institution is called an orphanage.) This is a place where parents leave their children when the burden becomes to big for them to continue caring for them. I was told that it is because of “poverty” that parents leave their children here. I don’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. And as I try to understand how a parent could possible give up their child, I’m told that behind closed doors the Director of this institution is advertising. Advertising. Come, drop your children at my facility and they will have clothing and food. These facilities are funded by the government on a per capita basis – meaning the Director receives more money if she has more children – so there is an incentive for her to have it at full facility. But that isn’t usually talked about.
Anna’s Mom comes to visit her once or twice a month. She doesn’t see her father. She has two brothers, one is still at home and the other is also at the institution. It broke my heart to look in her eyes and know that she had parents living not too far away, but she couldn’t go “home”. How must she feel? I wish you could have met her. She is ambitious, smart, compassionate. She is determined to make a difference in this world, starting at that institution. When asked what her dream is… she said “I want to go to Law School and become a lawyer.” She wants to fight injustice. Praise God.
Anna who is experiencing injustice wants to devote her life to fight for justice for others. Amazing.
We are going to get her into a leadership program that will help protect her and keep her in the spotlight and thriving. We are also going to give her an opportunity to advocate for protecting others … to fight for justice … starting now.
Please pray for Anna.
Sorry I don’t have a photo, but it just didn’t feel right to take a picture. The photo above is from UNICEF.