In the spring of 2009, I had the opportunity to spend two and a half weeks with Mission to Ukraine in the city of Zhytomyr.  Their organization is dedicated to caring for disabled children and crisis pregnancy counseling.  In an unexpected turn of events, I absolutely fell in love with a place that absolutely breaks my heart.

By far the most difficult and heart-wrenching experiences in Ukraine were my three visits to the Romaniv Disabled Boys Orphanage.  It is an awful place where these beautiful boys are treated like cattle.  Yet hope has been springing up in this hell-hole ever since Mission to Ukraine started visiting on Thursday mornings.

Oksana from MTU with Peter, an orphan at Romaniv.

Oksana from MTU with Peter, an orphan at Romaniv.

Now, despite years of abuse and neglect, these boys are being treated like humans.  Unconditionally loved by these amazing Christ-followers, some of the orphans are even choosing to leave their despair behind.

These and other stories will resound in my memory forever.  It was an incredible trip!

Ukraine: My First Impressions

I’ve only been in Ukraine for 2 full days, so it is way too early to be making categorical statements. But I can’t help it… I’m going to anyway. I absolutely, positively love it here!!!

Click here to read this travel journal…

Culture Guide: Driving in Ukraine

So you want to drive around in Ukraine, huh? Well here are a few cultural tips you might want to know before you get in the car…

Click here to read this culture guide…

Photo Gallery: Rural Ukraine

A few pictures from a trip to rural Ukraine…

Click here to see this photo gallery…

Romaniv Boys Orphanage

Occasionally during intense or memorable experiences, you and I can have moments of clarity where we step back from what we are doing and realize, “I will remember this forever.” Well on Thursday I visited the Romaniv Boys Orphanage, and it was definitely one of those moments…

Click here to read this article…

Humility vs. Hospitality

In the short time that I have been here, I’ve discovered two truths about Ukrainians. One, they are amazingly hospitable. Two, they are extraordinarily humble. When these two traits are combined, it can lead to some interesting situations…

Click here to read this travel journal…

Photo Gallery: A Day in the Sun

Yesterday I had the chance to return to Romaniv Disabled Boys Orphanage.  This time, the weather was nice, so we got to go outside!

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The Pillar

Ukraine has one of the highest rates of abortion in the world, and the small city of Zhytomyr is no different.  But despite crippling statistics, Mission to Ukraine continues to fight for the rights of the unborn.

Click here to read this article…

Culture Guide: Learning How to Speak Like a Local

Some people say that learning to speak Russian or Ukrainian is hard. Not true! It’s really just as simple as ABЖ…

Click here to read this culture guide…

In the Shadow of the Past

Here in Zhytomyr, the soviet era is not just a chapter in a history textbook. It is real. The sorrow and pain from that time still cling to the culture, but so do glimmers of a powerful new national identity.

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Photo Gallery: Kiev

After seeing the poverty of rural Ukraine, big, glamorous Kiev came as a bit of a surprise…

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An Interesting Evening …

“What series of events in my life could have possibly brought me here?”  That question ran through my mind the other night as I experienced a Ukrainian Banya for the first time…  Wow.

Click here to read this travel journal…

Meet Peter.

At Romaniv Disabled Boys Orphanage, there is one story that breaks my heart more than the rest. The story screams of injustice. But yet again, in the most unlikely of places there are whispers of hope…

Click here to read this article…

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About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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Comments

  1. Cynthia Mankus said... 

    Reply

    May 31st, 2009 at 9:21 am  

    Barry,
    Thank you for the well written documentation of your trip to Ukraine. I live in the US but travel every summer to work with Mission to Ukraine and their summer camps for the disabled children. I have been to Romaniv with the MTU team and last year we started a summer day camp with them. It’s amazing the progress they have made with these boys. I am thankful that someone has come and has written so well about the life struggles these children are faced with. Any awareness of this situation is a great avenue to help provide for the staff and work of the MTU team. I am so looking forward to seeing how much my boys have changed since last year! Thanks again!
    Cynthia Mankus

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