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This article is one of four vignettes about my weeklong stay at Romaniv Disabled Boys Orphanage.
Click here to get the full story.
Vignette 3 – Vitalik
“Sigh… Barry, Barry, Barry.”
Vitalik said this a lot during my week at Romaniv. Whenever he saw me, he would smile and repeat my name in a tone that said, “Just what are we going to do with you, young man?”
“Sigh… Vitalik, Vitalik, Vitalik.” I repeated, shaking my head and trying to hide my smile…
While I lived at the orphanage, I always looked forward to hanging out with Vitalik. He’s such a good-natured guy. Quick to smile, funny and eager to include me in whatever he is doing.
Sometimes it was actually a bit surprising that he could be so upbeat.
You see, Vitalik, 24, has been living at Romaniv since he was five. Like many of the older boys, he survived the dark days before the current director arrived and before Mission to Ukraine began their weekly visits.
In those days, the boys never got out. They never saw the world beyond the orphanage property. Their only creative stimulation was a small, glowing TV in the corner.
You can imagine how dull and meaningless life must have been to them. For Vitalik, there was nothing to look forward to. Nothing to hope for. Tomorrow was just, well… another day.
But all of that changed when Mission to Ukraine entered the picture.
Because of their understanding of childhood development, MTU works hard to provide the boys with all sorts of unique, stimulating activities. During their weekly classes, the boys are exposed to new sights, new sounds, new smells and new ideas.
Just last week they got to play with shaving cream. Feeling it on their hands, writing with it on the table… It was something outside of the ordinary that helped their brains to grow.
Every summer, many of the Romaniv boys get to attend MTU’s “Good Mansion” camp where they interact with volunteers, play games with crazy American teens, sing fun camp songs and learn about Jesus.
They have a blast.
In fact, the boys look forward to camp so much that they simply call it “the sea.” In Ukraine, going to the sea is the quintessential vacation. The ideal way to kick back and enjoy life… So when the boys imagine what going to the sea must be like, they have a perfect image in their minds: Good Mansion Camp!
And now, on top of all of these stimulating new activities, Mission to Ukraine has begun taking many of the boys on exciting field trips. Last year, they got to visit the Kiev zoo (video here), and this year they had the chance to visit an aquarium and shopping mall.
As I mentioned before, going with them to the aquarium was a blast. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the video. Tell me their faces aren’t priceless!
When I showed the aquarium video to some of the boys, several of them were so overwhelmed that they ran over and hugged me. They were so excited to show their friends how much fun they had had.
One of the babysitters who saw the video told me, “I’ve been working here for 33 years and I’ve never seen anything like it!” And she wasn’t talking about my video editing.
She was referring to the astounding love that MTU has for these boys… that they would do something so “extravagant” and fun for these boys who have been so rejected by society.
This is the kingdom of God at work.
And yes, I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but the new sponsorship program through Hands of Hope will allow these boys to have even more amazing field trips… even more activities and games… and even more exposure to the outside world.
Head over to the sponsorships page right now (click here) and see which boys are still awaiting sponsors. I’m serious!
Imagine what it would be like to connect your life to Vitalik’s. To Misha’s. To Victor’s. Imagine what it would be like to know that a small financial sacrifice in your life would be literally life changing for one of them.
Will sponsoring a Romaniv boy bring an end to all of the problems they still face day to day? Of course not.
But for Vitalik or Oleg or Boris, the world will be just a little closer to the way it was meant to be…
Click here to read Vignette 4
- One of the coolest things about the Hands of Hope sponsorship for the boys at Romaniv is that there is zero overhead. Both Hands of Hope and Mission to Ukraine have their own sources of funding, so 100% of the sponsorship money goes straight to the boys. Check it out!
- Pray that many others would step up to sponsor these boys. Pray that this money would allow MTU and the Romaniv staff to provide for these young men in ways they never would have dreamed just a few years ago!
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.