Tikva, the orphanage school that saved Jewish children in Odessa, Ukraine
Discover the moving story of Tikva, the school and orphanage founded in 1993 by the rabbi Shlomo Baksht to face the need to help abandoned children living in poverty in Odessa, Ukraine.
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In 1993 the rabbi Shlomo Baksht travelled from Israel to Odessa, Ukraine, with a suitcase full of dreams: setting up a school and working to preserve the Jewish community in Odessa.
After walking around the streets of Odessa and being in contact with its culture and people, rabbi Baksht found out there were many homeless and abandoned Jewish children living in a situation of poverty.
After having seen children suffering and the youth surviving in the cruelest conditions, rabbi Baksht didn’t think it twice: he rented a flat and took 6 children from the state orphanage to live with him and so he started taking care of them.
The strong need to have a place where Jewish children could receive food, medical care, education and, most importantly, love, gave birth to Tikva.
“It was a situation that we hadn’t anticipated, but we knew we had to act,” said rabbi Baksht.
What started as a modest program of community aid soon gave the possibility of a better life to 2,000 children and adolescents.
What is Tikva?
Currently, Tikva is a school as well as a big and thriving orphanage that offers programs for disadvantaged children and adolescents.
Tikva helps save the lives of Jewish children that are at risk and relieves suffering from poor Jewish families in Odessa, Ukraine. It also plays an important role in reactivating the Jewish life in the region.
During the last 15 years, Tikva has rescued 2,250 Jewish children from poverty and abandonment.
To celebrate the Queen’s birthday in 2003, many philanthropists were honored by the British Royal Family, among which was rabbi Shlomo Baksht.
That year, Sarah Ferguson, the duchess of York, visited Tikva and said that children there are treated “with great care and attention as if they were their own flesh and blood.” And she added: “The Jewish faith inspires a marvelous sense of community, family values and ethics in its teachings, which I wholeheartedly support.”
Mission of Tikva
The mission of Tikva is to guarantee that the needs of every child are fulfilled so that children can become full, self-reliant grown-ups and active members of society.
How does Tikva help the community?
Tikva works for helping Jewish populations in Odessa with programs such as:
Rescue of orphans
The Tikva team is constantly trying to find Jewish children that are victims of poverty, abuse and abandonment. Every year they rescue more than 100 children.
Tikva offers shelter, food, clothing, love and education to children, in a warming environment. It also helps them escape from poverty and think of a tomorrow full of hope.
Tikva offers hot meals and food packages to more than 200 people in the streets. Besides, it offers all four meals to children living in Tikva’s orphanages.
Tikva has doctors and nurses at the children’s disposal. When children arrive at Tikva for the first time, they receive a thorough medical evaluation and have a health center which operates around the clock.
Most of the children arriving at Tikva have suffered all kinds of abuse; therefore they are kindly supported by professional advisers, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Tikva runs 7 educational institutions in Odessa and offers education to more than 1,000 Jewish children. In fact, Tikva has been recently awarded a prize for being the best private school of the region.
Tikva offers programs for all stages of education: kindergarten, primary and secondary levels and university.
Journeys to Israel
Tikva also helps adolescents who wish to travel to Israel once they have finished their studies. They are offered programs for professional training, assistance at University and foster families in Israel.
How can you help Tikva?
You can help Tikva by offering your voluntary work or financial donations.
Sources: Tikva, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, The Global Jewish New Source. Photos courtesy of Tikva Fanpage.
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