The Learning Center
Bulgarian Child, the ministry of long-time missionaries Paul and Judy Ridgway, has worked in orphan homes extensively for more than 20 years. Several years ago, they purchased an abandoned orphanage and began renovations. The Learning Center is a temporary home for young men who have aged out of the orphan system, which teaches basic life skills and job training to help the men transition into society and avoid the all-too-common trap of poverty and crime.
Across Eastern Europe, in cities and towns in every region of every country, you will find orphan homes. In virtually every case, they have survived for decades in crumbling buildings, hidden on quiet side streets. In most cases they are severely underfunded and understaffed. The people charged with caring for the children love them very much, but are stretched thin. It is not uncommon for a home with 40 children to have a full-time staff of only three or four, and very little money for food, clothing and medicine. It is difficult to give the children the care, attention and discipline they need.
More often than not, the children struggle with education, and by the time they “age out” of the system at age eighteen, have few prospects for a bright future. While there are some amazing success stories, it is much more common for these children to grow up and end up in poverty, crime, or worse.
The Learning Center offers hope to young men. When they commit to the program and its expectations, they are offered a place to live, education and job training (EU certified training in fields like construction, food service, hospitality, agriculture and more) that will help them to integrate into society, all underscored by learning about the God who created them and how he wants to know them.