Conference Unites (and Reunites) Volunteers and Youth

Community Development and empowerment through Christian love and spiritual guidance underscores all of Allies projects in Eastern Europe. This year's youth conference, titled "Unity," gathered many young men and women in a partner church in Maykop to teach them about the need to understand and accept others, and the importance of loving others as Jesus loves us.

The conference drew around 100 participants from other cities like Krasnodar, Labinsk, Novorosiiysk, Moscow, Volgograd, Voronezh, Kropotkin, and Elista. Among them was 16-year-old Emir, who, along with his two brothers, was taken in by a kind foster family in Maykop just this past September. Emir is not a stranger to Allies and our volunteer teams, but it was his first time to attend an event of such scale, which lasted for 3 days.

"I have never been to such events nor have I attended an evangelical church," Emir said. "But I like to be in the center of different events and am always looking for different youth organizations for fellowship. I was happy to accept the conference invitation and to see many faces that I already knew."

Masha, an Allies volunteer, also attended the youth conference. She and her fellow volunteers have known Emir for two years now, and although confidentiality measures have limited their knowledge of Emir's background and previous family, Masha is grateful that she has gotten the chance to learn more about Emir on her own.

"Emir and his younger brothers are smart and special. They seek knowledge and pursue interests on their own," Masha said, noting that their foster parents (a public school director and a House of Culture director) are focused on developing their education. "Emir is part of a local dance group while his 12-year old brother Rusik is fond of parkour. They also enjoy playing with the Rubiks cube and used to ask for new models all the time back when they were still in the orphanage."

Emir and his brothers faced struggles prior to arriving in the orphanage. Their mother is in the hospital recovering from addiction problems, while their father recently passed away from a lingering illness. The orphanage and their new foster parents have given Emir and his brothers another opportunity to live a life with hope and love – and to be a part of enriching events such as the Unity Youth Conference.

"It is great to be surrounded by your friends! The conference was interesting, and I was able to understand more about morality, unity and friendship, and how to be friendly," Emir shared. "The second day up in the mountains was a lot of fun. We became even closer friends, and I met many kind young people from different cities of Eastern Europe. It makes me want to become part of such team even more!”


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