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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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LSS makes Siberian connection

What began two years ago as an adoption program for Siberian orphans has grown into an ongoing relationship between Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan and human service providers in the Siberian Republic of Buryatia.

"We want to learn how to make it better for our people," said Larisa Davydova, director of a children's rehabilitation center in Buryatia, who with 10 others spent two weeks in Wisconsin visiting LSS sites that care for troubled youth and older adults, for criminal offenders and disabled people. "It helps us see how programs work, so we understand better how we can run our own."

Buryatia's economic situation is dire, with 80 percent of its 1.5 million people living below the poverty line and 50 percent unemployment.

LSS of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan was asked in 1977 to establish adoption opportunities for Buryat orphans. That effort was successful. A year later 10 LSS specialists went to Buryatia to visit orphanages, a homeless shelter, institutions for the developmentally disabled, homes for the elderly, girls' and boys' correctional facilities, and hospitals.

LSS funds the partnership, called the Baikal/Great Lakes United Social and Health Program, through grants.


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