ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – Millions of children and young people live in at-risk conditions in Russia. The problem is exacerbated by the thousands of orphaned children who age out of state-run orphanages each year to make way for the thousands of children waiting to replace them.
The problem is worse than you may think.
“There are more orphans and street children in Russia today than in the years following World War II.”
The toll of having been raised in inadequate facilities run by unqualified individuals is almost beyond comprehension. The best estimates are that post-institutionalization,
- 40% become addicted to drugs and alcohol.
- 40% end up involved in the criminal world.
- 10% commit suicide.
A Harbor for the Hopeless
Alex Krutov was placed in a Russian state-run orphanage after he was discovered in a dumpster where his mother abandoned him when he was a mere six months old. Although he was adopted, he was abused. He ran away, lived on the streets, and eventually returned to the orphanage to continue his life of despair and hopelessness.
Alex understands the plight of Russian orphans. He’s been there and done that.
Alex is also the co-founder of The Harbor, a Christian ministry offering personalized care for Russian young people who have aged out of the system and are unprepared for the journey ahead.
Something changed for Alex. He met Jesus through some Christian missionaries who arrived in St. Petersburg following the collapse of the former Soviet Union.
Why There is Hope at The Harbor
Alex has built a team of highly-skilled professionals whose love for the Lord and for others motivates them to use their education and experience to help aged-out, orphaned young people chart a path for a successful life.
Whether their task is traditional ministry, vocational training, counseling, or residential program directors, each staff member has a heart that is turned toward Jesus.
The team emulates family as God’s design and emphasizes service to others as His plan for our lives.
The Harbor provides individualized training and experiences in an atmosphere that generates a positive transformation of character for each young person in the program.
The Harbor’s strategy for growth is almost counterintuitive until we are reminded that the Gospel is relational. For that reason,
“Our strategy for growth is designed according to our understanding of God’s plan for both the Church and the nations. We do not believe that God is calling The Harbor to grow endlessly, recreating another institution for these young adults. Rather, we believe that we are to grow to a [manageable] capacity, no more. Limiting our growth will enable us to maintain our focus on family along with highly individualized and comprehensive programming.”
While each Harbor will be limited to a maximum of 24 residents, other Harbors are being reproduced throughout Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) that were once included in the Soviet Union. Harbors are functioning in St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Kursk, Nizhniy Novgorod, Tolyatti, and Pskov. Others are being prepared in Ryazan, Voronezh, as well as cities in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Latvia.
Ultimately, Alex and his team hope to open a total of 200 models of The Harbor in Russian and another in the CIS.
The Impact of The Harbor
Its impact cannot be described any better than on The Harbor’s website.
“The Harbor is breaking the ruthless cycle of poverty and abandonment among Russia’s millions of children-at-risk by offering them real hope. Nurtured, educated, and taught essential skills, Harbor graduates have become accountants, computer programmers, teachers, seamstresses, nurses, social workers, businessmen, and Christian leaders. At The Harbor, orphans are finding not only a reason to live but also the skills to live.”