Support a Counseling Center for Russia’s Women in Need
Many women and girls who become pregnant unintentionally have no one they can turn to for help. The Russian Orthodox Church is trying to help these women by establishing centers in more and more of its eparchies where they can find help and support in raising their babies.
The Eparchy of Nizhnij Novgorod is one diocese which has established such a center. Situated in the town of Zelenyi Gorod, it has become an important place for women who have nowhere else to turn. They usually make initial contact via the center’s free telephone number, which is advertised on posters in public places.
Some are pregnant and despairing, while other women are fleeing from domestic violence. There are many different kinds of problem they face, and accordingly there are many different forms of help available to them, ranging from psychological and pastoral support through legal advice and counsel to material support in the form of baby clothing and baby food, and, when necessary, accommodation in one of the shelters already established for the purpose.
The center can call on experienced professional staff – psychologists, doctors and experienced counselors who are motivated by a deep personal faith. “This work demands a profound spirit of charity, but at the same time a high degree of professional competence,” explains Peter Humeniuk, who heads the relevant project section of ACN. Some of the cases are extremely difficult and challenging, even for the trained staff.
“Some of these women come from such badly broken families that they themselves have to be taught the most basic fundamentals. Many do not even know, for example, that a baby needs to be bathed and regularly fed, to say nothing of their need for loving care and attention. They themselves have never experienced this loving care, and so they can scarcely give it to others,” explains Mr. Humeniuk, who recently visited the center. “I was deeply impressed to witness the great love with which the carers support these women and guide them step by step into their roles as mothers.”
The center is guided by a priest, and every house has its own chapel. “It is important for the women to be supported pastorally as well, and to know that the help they are given springs from a spirit of Christian love and charity. The Gospel spirit needs to be tangible in what we do. Nevertheless, the houses are open to everyone who needs this help, regardless of denomination or religious affiliation. Baptism is not a requirement for being given help,” he emphasizes.
ACN has always supported these initiatives and has recently given the Eparchy of Nizhnij Novogorod a grant of $17,100 so that it can renovate the center. We are also supporting many other similar initiatives, both Catholic and Orthodox, in Russia.
Our heartfelt thanks to all of you for your support! We will most certainly be continuing and extending our support for these important initiatives in the future.
Aid to the Church in Need commits to invest your funds where they will have the greatest impact for the Church that we serve. Funds donated to Aid to the Church in Need’s projects will be used towards the greatest need in our programs to help keep the Faith alive.