The “Bethany” Children’s Center of the Evangelical Lutheran community in the village of Novohradkivka opened its thirteenth school year. During the past 13 years, we were not only able to help children and their families with the school program but also provided meals, hygiene, sometimes clothes and shoes, oftentimes medication, and, of course, cared for their faith and Christian ethics. Over the years, we have developed excellent relationships with teachers of the primary school in Novohradkivka. In difficult times of the pandemic and the war, we, in fact, have become a real school for our charges since online learning is impossible for most of them. A large family would lack the finances to provide all the children with smartphones, let alone computers. Poor Internet speed, inability to study without the teacher supervision and support, especially for the first grades of elementary school, and many other reasons make the work of the “Bethany” Children’s Center invaluable. Our staff communicates daily with the schoolteachers to learn how to help children, find the best approach, and also find out their home assignments. Teachers miss the children so much that sometimes they come to the Children’s Center to work with them individually. All this speaks of a wonderful form of relationship in which the child gets the biggest benefit.

So, we have started a new school year in our Children’s Center. From Monday to Thursday, children can immerse in the creative atmosphere. Here they can play on the playground, jump on a trampoline, play football, and on a rainy- or cold-day play board games or Lego. Here they will definitely get a delicious lunch and will be encouraged to put their best effort in their school studies. The Center in Novohradkivka also teaches singing lessons, where together with a professional teacher, they can learn a lot, since singing requires a special attitude.

With the approval of the Church Council of the congregation in Petrodolynske, and in cooperation with the school teachers of 3rd and 4th grades, we are happy to open a branch of the Children’s Center in Petrodolynske. Our church building provides excellent opportunities to prepare meals, games, and classes. The playground and the closed territory create a safe space for work and rest. Our new employees completed an internship at the main center in Novohradkivka and began working on their own on September 12th.

Each center had a festive opening of the school year with the blessing of students and teachers during Sunday services. This year the Children’s Center in Novohradkivka is working with 12 children and, together with the branch in Petrodolynske, will provide 26 children with special needs the opportunity to learn and develop with us.

We sincerely thank all our donors, and especially the Martin Luther Verein in Bavaria for the financial support of the project. We thank God for giving us the idea to start this ministry and for sustaining its work in the previous years. We pray for a time of peace and God’s blessing for the new school year.

Oleksandr Gross, the pastor of the congregation