Eesti Elu
Village of Hope Estonian Life
Eestlased Eestis 30 Apr 2016 EL (Estonian Life)Eesti Elu
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Village of Hope

There are an estimated 10,000 addicted needle users in the small country of Estonia alone – one of the highest per capita in Europe.

According to the survey done by Estonian Institute of Economic Research, a few years ago about 86 percent of the adult population, from 16 to 75-years-old, consumed alcohol. Statistics show that in 12 years, Estonia has lost 45,700 people between the ages of 15 and 49 years due to alcoholism’s and this is one of the smallest states in the EU.

In the midst of these alarming statistics there is also good news. It comes in the form of the Village of Hope, a ten month to three year in residence drug – alcohol regeneration and training program. Situated in the heart of a pine forest some 50 km from the heart of Estonia’s Capital City of Tallinn, the Village of Hope is exactly what is encompassed in its name. In the last 15 years over 500 men have gone through the program offering them “hope” to change their lives. 70 percent of those who have graduated have continued on in their recovery, have a job and continue to live productive lives with their family and community.

Since addiction directly affects 7 family members, its effect is devastating especially to wives, parents and children. It is not just the addict alone but it is the family who suffers. The recovery process includes all members of the family.

Every man is assigned to a work task as well as classroom time in an interactive style of teaching. The Village of Hope includes an industry where men work every day, learning skills and work ethic.

The co-founders of the Village of Hope in Estonia and Canada, Bishop Märt Vähi and Rev. Andrew Vähi will be on hand to make a presentation in Toronto on May 12, 2016 at 7pm at Tartu College arranged by VEMU in cooperation with Estogeneration.

A pioneer in spiritual leadership Märt Vähi has dedicated the rest of his life along with his son Andrew to serve a nation in this acute challenge. In a ceremony on the eve of Estonia’s Independence on February 23, 2014 Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, presented Bishop Märt Vähi with the Order of the Red Cross of the III Category for services rendered to the Estonian people. Märt was also the recipient of several awards as the Pride of Estonia award by Eri Klas, the Service Award by the province of Harjumaa Governess Ülle Rajasalu, as well as numerous other recognitions by the Police, Prison Authority, Estonian Council of Churches, and various local and other Government Agencies. The work of the Village of Hope is working also in close relationship with the Ministry of Justice in Estonia, especially in their prison release program, funded partially by the government. Otherwise the work of the Village of Hope is totally dependant on funding and gifts from the public sector in its work and expansion.

Märt, born in Sweden to Estonian parents, with roots in Hiiumaa and Laitse, grew up and pastored in Canada, served as Chaplin of the New Brunswick Legislature, lived in Europe smuggling Bibles Behind the Iron Curtain during the Soviet era and before going to found the Village of Hope on his grandfather’s lands in Estonia, worked with colleges Harry Leesment and Dr. Allan Laur in founding the Estonian Christian Pentecostal Church in Estonia. The story of this father son team is an incredible tale of trials, faith, courage and working sometimes against impossible odds. Along with continuing leadership in Estonia, Andrew also leads the rapidly growing work of the Canadian Village of Hope in New Brunswick, Canada.

The Estonian Village of Hope has expanded today in various phases to three centers in Estonia as well as a planned beginning of a Women’s Center opening this September.
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