September 25, 2011
We started the day (it’s Sunday) by attending a Kazakh Christian church service. We had a translator with us so we could understand what was being said but honestly the service itself was so similar to the services back home it was pretty easy to understand the rhythm of things. Once again I found myself more impressed by the similarities with home than the differences.
That was the easy part of the day....
Later that afternoon we visited the first orphanage, ARK Village.
ARK Village just on the outskirts of Almaty is affectionately know as Papa Guido’s. Papa Guido is a Catholic priest from Italy who is at the center of this exceptional orphanage caring for more than 60 children. ARK Village is located in the tired remains of a old summer camp, receives no funding or support from the Kazakhstan government but with the help of local and Italian sponsors Papa Guido has managed to renovate the camp into a year round home for “his” children.
The kids are there as a result of being transferred there from other orphanages while others are found and rescued from life on the street. We met one pair of darling brothers in fact that Papa Guido said were found about a year ago “living with dogs”, they were about 6 and 7. Can you even imagine? Those boys like most of the children living at ARK Village are not available for adoption; they are either social orphans who parents are unable or unwilling to care for them or they simply don't have any papers that would allow them to be properly prepared for adoption.
It’s an unfair reality for these children who are stuck in circumstances so far beyond their control it sickens (or should sicken) any mother’s heart. They have no chance of ever being part of a family. They will never know the love of a mother and father of their own.
BUT they do have a Papa...by the grace of God they do have Papa Guido.
ARK Village is a place that all at once breaks your heart and feeds your soul all. And Papa Guido is a humble soft-spoken man who inspires 60 amazing resilient and beautiful kids in Kazakhstan (along with eight jet lagged missionaries from the US) with his selfless commitment, generosity and love.
(Internet is slow-big surprises huh? More photos from today on facebook & Here are a few more)
Blessings from Almaty Kazakhstan, Lori