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Although the population of Russia continues to decline sharply, the number of children living in Russian orphanages is greater now than at any time since the end of World War II.

There is no single reliable statistic of the number of children in state care in Russia, but conservative estimates place the figure at least 800,000. Others estimate the number is in excess of 2 million. Often the children arrive in orphanages with physical problems such as malnutrition and rickets.

 

Orphans are labeled as “invalids” (a term still widely used in Russia) at a rate more than twice that of the general population. Some experts have estimated that half of these “invalids” die in the baby houses, and that a large number of these deaths are cases in which a hospital has refused care. The orphanages were originally established to care for “true” orphans whose parents were dead or missing. Today, many orphanage children are “social orphans” who have been abandoned, neglected or abused by their families.

 

In many cases, the children have been removed from a hostile environment or taken from parents whose low education, status or substance abuse have made it impossible for them to care for their children. Orphanage caregivers are often dedicated and hardworking, but their task is overwhelming, particularly when governmental monetary support is insufficient to provide funding for all of the care required. Thus, orphanage children lead regimented, lonely and limited lives.

 

Upon leaving the orphanage system, one quarter of the orphans eventually go to prison, and one tenth commit suicide. These children frequently turn to prostitution, crime and alcohol, with the result that they become the parents of another generation of orphanage children. Friends of Russian Orphans cannot change the entire orphan problem in Russia, but it can change the problems of some Russian orphans. And for that, we welcome your prayers and your support.

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