One of the projects of the ELCIR Diaconal Department is Care for Mothers in Crisis, St. Petersburg.
The project which started as part of the Diaconal Department’s work 2 years ago has since evolved into a ministry of its own, assisted by many of our church members. The first mother with children came to our Diaconal Center through St. Mary’s Church. Then there was a second one, then a third one, then a fourth one… Then we had a girl who arrived in St. Petersburg with her mother to be treated for leucosis. We decided to create a group on VK.com and are considering establishing a charity called Trilistnik (“Trefoil”), which would facilitate our working together with the government, trying to get governmental financial support for our work.
Currently, our project works together with St. Petersburg’s and regional social services for minors, such charities as Detskiye derevni – SOS (“Children’s Villages – SOS”), Caritas, Vårsol Foundation, children’s state-run shelter Transit, Darina Rehabilitation Center for physically challenged children and teenagers in Gatchina, Tyoply dom (“The Warm House”) Foundation, Vasilyevsky Ostrov District State Social Aid Center, and other governmental and nongovernmental organizations.
The need for such a project is higher and higher each day. Governmental centers don’t work with mothers without a residence registration in St. Petersburg, and in order to be admitted there, one needs to go through medical exams and do a bunch of paid tests, which women in a crisis can’t afford. Even if they did, they would need a place to stay until the test results are ready. So they send those mothers to us. And only the church can give immediate aid. It’s both mercy ministry and mission work.
Below is the latest story.
Three sisters with a total of 8 children. Their parents are long dead. No husbands. Their kids’ fathers vanished in the vast space of Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The eldest sister lives with four children in her parents’ apartment and has a utility debt of ₽170,000. The middle sister with three children rents an apartment and works at a market. What follows is our conversation with the middle sister:
“When did you last receive a pay?”
“Two months ago.”
“What is your pay?”
“What is the apartment rent?”
“What money do you have to get food?”
“As you can see, my fridge is empty. We got a gift microwave and we sold it for 700 rubles. So that’s our money to go to the grocery store with.”
“What about afterwards? You’re going to be evicted—”
“Well, I’ve been borrowing money.”
“Why didn’t you rent a smaller room or apartment?”
“No one wants to rent one out to me as I have three children with me.”
“Do you have any unpaid loans?”
“Around 450,000 rubles.”
“Do you realize you won’t be able to keep any legal earnings to yourself soon? The bailiffs will seize all your income to pay back the bank interest.”
“Well, I don’t know…”
“You have turned to us for help. How can we help you?”
“Can you accommodate my younger sister? She is 29. She lived with a man who had done time for murder. They drank, battered each other, and didn’t have any jobs. Suddenly (sic!) she turned out pregnant. She wanted to leave her child in a children’s home, but I decided to save her and her child. I took them to my place. Only I’m afraid that the landlord will kick us out when he learns that my sister with her 2-month-old pre-term child has moved in with me. Also, Abdullah who helps me and visits me now is against her living with me.”
“What does your younger sister think about all this?”
“She’s been checking for suicide methods on the internet.”
“Do you believe in God?”
“I don’t know. No, I don’t believe. There are so many sick children. If God existed, he wouldn’t let that happen.”
“But does God drink or smoke? Does he take drugs? Does he give birth to those children?”
“Well, he could change all that…”
“Have you turned to the church for help before?”
“No. No way I can go there because I’m unable to give anything…”
Her younger sister who was present during this conversation and stayed silent walked to her child who had woken up. On the table, there was a jar with baby formula for 650 rubles, a gift from a neighbor. The jar would be enough for 5-6 days. She doesn’t have breast milk. They had obtained an infant bed, bathtub, and sleep-and-play through ads.
We promised we would think what we could do and began to put on our coats. The younger sister came out to us with her child.
At first, the little girl frowned as she saw the strangers and then she had a big happy smile as only little children can smile. She was doing fine. She had gotten enough sleep and her mom was near her… And there was peace on earth…
It was 9:30 pm. As we drove, we talked about the day that passed, this ministry which makes us spend evenings this way, the will of God in our lives and in the lives of hundreds of thousands such misfortunate, lost people whom He wants to save and bring to His Church. And He gives us a chance to touch them and share in His works.
We would appreciate your support for our ministry. And we’d like to thank all the people who donate money for our work!