11 Nov Day 20 – Masterpieces, in Russia
Day 20 of a 26 day, 11 flight and 4 country adventure, Capturing Grace in France, Ukraine, Russia and Spain.
The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia houses some of the world’s greatest masterpieces. My soul was stirred while experiencing Leonardo DaVinci’s Madonna and Child, Rembrandt’s Descent from the Cross and my personal favorite, Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son.
Strolling the Hermitage with a Russian historian by my side was one of the benefits of coming to Russia for Orphan Outreach, the organization I am here to photograph for. However, what quickened my heart most was getting to know and photograph six living masterpieces, none of which are any less precious than what is on display at the Hermitage.
Each of these faces has a unique story, but the ribbon that is woven through each is that they were orphans, and they have graduated from the orphanages from which they lived.
In recent years there has been a global shift in orphan care coming from the realization that every child should grow up in a home, in the arms of a loving family. The statistics show that orphans who come through the orphanage system have a very poor chance of success in this world since they are ill equipped for living independently.
As I stated in a recent post, the statistics for aging out orphans is tragic. Without intervention, the future is grim for orphans who leave their institutions when they are 16-18 years old. Seventy-three percent are chronically unable to find work. Seventy percent of the boys enter a continual rotation between crime and prison. Sixty percent of orphan girls are sexually exploited. Ten percent of these orphans commit suicide by age 18.
I am so proud to photograph for this ministry that has walked beside these precious lives for many years here in Russia. Establishing meaningful relationships before graduation, creating a bond of love and trust. The relationships they fostered serve as a bridge for these lives as they seek to navigate the perilous waters of living independently after living in institutional care.
I wish you could have entered into the homes of each of these six graduates who I spent time with. I am so grateful to know them each by name.
[In August my daughter Carissa and I set off on a 26 day, 11 flight and 4 country adventure, Capturing Grace with our camera’s as we journeyed through France, Ukraine, Russia and Spain. I am now back at home in the US, posting about the experience of those twenty six days from my journal]