In November of 2015, ServeNow began a new and unique project in Ukraine, providing skill training for girls at risk. A bakery was furnished, a place was rented, and the training of refugees and others in need began.
Ukraine ranks second in Europe in terms of human trafficking. Moreover, Ukraine is a country-supplier, a transit country and more often than not, the country of destination. The area of Uzhgorod borders with four other countries, so the issue of human trafficking is very relevant. Before the beginning of ServeNow’s ministry in that region, local Christians had already begun to work with teenage girls from orphanages and poor families. A shelter was created for them, which meant that after finishing their education at the boarding school, the girls had a place to live. This is very important for them, because normally, when orphans complete boarding school, they are left entirely to themselves to find employment. Many lack any marketable skills. As a result, an unfortunate percentage winds up prostituting themselves (thinking that it is their only hope) or being trafficked or having a very impoverished, difficult life.
At this shelter, created for these girls, local ministers taught them to grow their own vegetables, take care of the cows, pigs and chickens, so that they can eat. Even so, after several years of trying, they were faced with the fact that they were unable to give the girls the training and education they needed to get a job. When ServeNow arrived, they said they had been praying for this opportunity for years! We met with them last year, during our Christmas program, and we had good discussions concerning what needs to be changed in order for the girls to get jobs. As a result, the idea of a bakery was born. Because of ServeNow’s ministry, we now have six students who will be fully trained in a few months, and then employed! To have their own bakery will give them a chance to earn money. Currently, the local church is the main buyer of our bakery products. (More girls will also be added this year to the program, with the goal being to train and prepare 15 girls to find a job!)
Anita (on the left in the picture below) is one of the girls that was an inspiration behind the bakery in Ukraine. When she was born, her parents did not want her. Thankfully, rather than being aborted, she was placed in an orphanage. Unfortunately, in Ukraine, children go from one orphanage to another. Anita went on to tell us: When leaving boarding school, I asked myself: what will be my future? Most of my friends got involved in prostitution or went to jail… I lived in constant fear of being raped. My defense was pretending that I was a guy. I dressed like a boy, walked like a boy and even got a boy’s name. Now that I know God, I thank Him that I’m not in prostitution or ended up in jail…
Maryana (one of our bakery teacher’s), is 24 years old. She is another big piece of the Bakery story. Here is what she said in her own words: “I am so glad to live with foster family for 9 years. Before that my life was very different. While I have been in the orphanage I dreamed to have family. Family without alcoholic father and fighting between parents; family with love and respect. In 2007 God brought me to this friendly family where Maria (our staff) became a mother to me. She helped me to finish school and became a cook-pastry. Without this help I would not be able to get my education degree. For seven years I was working in cafe and dreamed to open own bakery. Also little bit latter Maria share her ” bakery” dream with me and we prayed for few years together. Through ServeNow He answered our prayer and bakery became a reality. We wanted that other girls from our foster family will learn how to bake and will be able to get a job. Sometimes I get tired, but than I see my bakery products and how people from local church buy it – it inspires me to do it again. I already had few lessons for our students and plan to do it more.”
ServeNow has several skill training courses taking place around the world throughout the year. From cosmetology courses in India, to tailoring classes in India and Nepal; it is our passion to provide protection and alternatives to girls and women at risk. You can read more here: Anti-Trafficking Skill Training. To donate to help more girls at risk click here: Donate today.