Because of its open gate, it's impossible to guess that the Fellowship-funded Lachan Youth Village is a closed institution for youth offenders. But the 12- to 18-year-old boys staying there were sent by court order as an alternative to imprisonment.
The open gate is symbolic of the kind of support the 24 young men receive there. The youth village allows these youth to experience, most for the first time in their lives, a true home environment. The young men learn how little decisions will affect the rest of their lives. Their challenge is to deal with the difficult aspects of their lives now – such as poverty or a difficult home life – in order to set up a good life for themselves in the future.
Michelle, the village's psychologist, says the youth village allows these boys to be born again – to kick their addiction to crime and, for the first time, to learn how to live as peaceful and productive individuals. The program helps them learn a trade, prepare for university, and understand how to escape the cycle of crime.
Neria, 16, is one of the boys at the youth village. He’s been living in orphanages since he was 6 years old, and this is the first time he truly feels part of a supportive community. In the last orphanage he lived in, he spent a lot of time in isolation, which caused him to become upset and to get into trouble. But here, Neria receives the help he needs to get his life on the right track. He gets help with schoolwork, and he is taking his studies seriously. He also participates in a lot of sports and, thanks to his motivation and dedication, has become a talented long-distance runner. He has completely transformed.
Avner is another teen boy at the Fellowship-funded youth village. He’s been at the village for three years, and when he arrived it was hard for him to control his temper. But his attitude toward life has drastically improved during his time at the youth village. He has learned to speak articulately and has improved his vocabulary, and he is able to present himself in a very professional manner. He has become involved with working on renovations to the center, and he has learned to commit to his projects and take pride in his work. The change in these boys is truly miraculous!