This house once belonged to a Polish Noble family and was used as a holiday home. It is located in a small village Bortnyky in Lviv region, Ukraine. During WWII it was left abandoned. The house was then used by the local school. In 1992 it was donated by the local government to Miles Jesu. Miles Jesu is a Catholic religious Order working in various countries including Ukraine (since 1990). The house was a ruin and it took over ten years to repair. Here are a few before and after photos.
Miles Jesu started accepting children who needed help into its house in Bortnyky in 1998. By 2004 there were 12 children and the mission was legally formed into a separate entity that is called now the Family Home “Living Pearl”. In July 2018 the last legal ties between Miles Jesu and the Family Home “Living Pearl” were disconnected. There are 5 board members (4 Ukrainians and 1 Englishman) who bear all the legal and moral responsibility for the Family Home “Living Pearl” and they are the supreme authority for the place.
The maximum legally allowed number of children in the Family Home “Living Pearl” is 30. Our house in Bortnyky has 40 beds including two rooms for guests and a separate room for young men who already turned 18 but still come to us. We have exactly 30 children between 6 and 18 years old at the present. 28 of them stay in the house 24/7 and 2 more study in colleges in Lviv and come home only for the weekends and holidays. The government of Ukraine sends children to the orphanage. It is illegal to accept children into the Family Home “Living Pearl” without a government’s permission accompanied by tons of papers. We are fully responsible for the boys until they are 18. We continue helping young men who stayed in the Family Home “Living Pearl” until they became adults in various ways. Many of them come to Bortnyky even until 20 years old while they study, we support them with their studies, help them find jobs. In the last 4 years we bought houses for 5 of our graduates.
The main reason the Family Home "Living Pearl" exists is not to have one more orphanage for children but to form a big family where the boys can live, grow, study and get ready for the future independent life. Our main idea is to have a place where abandoned, abused and emotionally wounded children will find warm, peacful and safe family atmosphere in which their wounds can be healed and their needs can be provided. When the children come to us we become fully responsible for each boy: food, clothing, medicine, studing, etc. Our formators, teachers and volunteers spend a lot of time with the children working, playing games, having meals and recriative activities together. Our schedule gives time for common activities (prayers, all the meals, house cleaning on Sutardays, etc) and every day there is free time when each boy can do what he likes. The common activities help the boys to cooparate and build up the family spirit, and free time gives them chance to relax, make friends and tells us what each boy is interested in. As the boys grow they accept more responsibilities and become more involved in our life. For instance, each boy has an area to clean. Older boys take turns helping the cooks in the kitchen. During the summer time the boys do not have school, so they help a lot with farming our own vegetables and wheat, raising pigs, cows, chickens, etc. We take trips with the boys, visit places and people in different parts of Ukraine, organize summer camps near mountains and rivers. We celebrate feasts, birthdays and have parties on special occasions.
All these activities and tasks aim to help the boys to expirience normal family life in Ukraine, and also to develop responsible personalities ready to live on their own in the future.