Uzhhorod is the administrative center of Zakarpattia with a population of 120,000 people. The city was founded over a thousand years ago and is rich in culture and history. It rests in the southwest corner of Ukraine where Slovakia, Hungary, Romania
and Poland all come together. It is a university town with over 20,000 students making up 15% of the city's population. Thousands of these students come from Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim parts of the world to attend its medical university. Although over 75% of the population in Uzhhorod are ethnic Ukrainians, other large ethnic groups include Russian (10%), Hungarian (7%), Slovakian (2%) and Rroma (1.5%). Most of the Rroma live within five squalid camps within the city and experience extreme discrimination. A recent influx of internally displaced people from Eastern Ukraine as a result of the 2014 Russian invasion has created some challenges as well. The Ukrainian government has also chosen the region for its pilot program to eradicate the need for orphanages with programs to reunite children with family and promote adoptions and foster care.
The team in Uzhhorod works in a variety of ways.
- We have brought 14 local churches and 21 local organisations together to help the oppressed people of Uzhhorod.
- We work with Rroma churches to improve the living conditions within the camps by providing clean drinking water, access to vital medicine, food supplements for the elderly, improved care at the local polyclinic, garbage removal, safe playgrounds, etc. We also assist these churches with developing children and youth ministries.
- We assist Rroma young people in obtaining job skills while earning a salary so that they can escape from the confines of the squalid camps they are imprisoned within.
- We build relationships with local and international university students and bring them closer to Christ. They lead discipleship groups and prepare international students to become leaders back in their own countries when they return.
- We lead summer camps for children at risk, including orphans, refugees, and children from impoverished single-parent homes and multi-sibling homes.
- We visit the poor in their homes to pray over them and share the love of Jesus in words and actions.
- We work with the government pilot program to eradicate the need for orphanages, and in the interim train local Christians to mentor these orphans.
- We provide activities for adults with special needs and support groups for their parents. We train Social Nannies to care for children with special needs so that mothers can build deeper relationships with their spouses and other children.