Roughly 25 to 30 Russian orphans need host families for three weeks of fun in St. Louis.
The children, who range in age from 5 to 12, will be in the St. Louis area in mid-July and early August to attend a summer camp conducted by SEEK Inc. — Save Eastern Europe’s Kids — a local humanitarian organization helping abandoned children worldwide, according to a press release.
Seek founder Debbie Sparrow of Oak-ville still is looking for host families as well as donations to help fund the program.
The children and their host families will participate each week in a variety of activities, including swimming, golfing, fishing and playground visits, with a focus on enjoying the outdoors and natural beauty of the area, according to the release.
The youngsters will enroll at the South County Family YMCA during their three-week stay.
Besides providing the children with a unique experience, SEEK will attempt to match the children with potential adoptive families.
Prospective adoptive families will be invited to spend time with the children during the camp experience.
The goal of the camp, the release stated, is to provide the children with new and meaningful experiences and to provide families who are hoping to adopt the opportunity to meet and get to know these children who truly need and deserve a family.
Economic difficulties in Russia continue to significantly impact children living in orphanages. The limited funds available barely cover needed food, clothing, medical supplies and medical care.
While the orphanage staff works hard to provide the children with music, art and drama within the facilities, no funding is available for the children to experience life outside the orphanage. Children even lack outdoor play equipment because of funding shortfalls. SEEK hopes to offer these opportunities.
Similar summer camps have been conducted across the United States for several years and have proved to benefit the children and families, the press release stated. The children had the chance to live with a family, learn about the values of family life and experience American culture.
Without this type of camp experience, only 3 percent of children over age 5 will be adopted, the release stated.
After being required to leave the orphanage at age 16, 60 percent of the children will be homeless and without work, more than 50 percent will turn to crime or prostitution, 40 percent will use drugs and 10 percent will commit suicide, according to the release.
This program is vital in giving older children a chance for adoption and the opportunity to live a healthy and fulfilled life.
SEEK is accepting monetary donations to support this camp experience and hopes local businesses and individuals will consider it a worthwhile program.
Funds will be used to pay for the children’s visas, travel, escorts, translator fees, health insurance, clothing, medical care and activities. All funds raised directly support the camp, the release stated.
Donations can be sent to SEEK Inc.; No. 3 Kings Crossing Court; St. Louis, Mo. 63129.
Families interested in adopting or being a host to a Russian child can contact SEEK at (314) 293-0242.
SEEK is a member of the Joint Council on International Children Services, the release stated.