LB Anniversary Story, 2006: Angela & Salon School Dreams

In our January newsletter, we shared that August of this year will mark Last Bell’s 10-year anniversary! We were incorporated in August of 2006.

In celebration of the last ten years of service in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, we would like to share with you a story of one young person we met each of those years, from 2006 until now.

Today’s story is about Angela, whom we met that first year, in 2006.

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When Angela was a young girl, her mother went to prison for murder. When her mother was released, the children were immediately given back into her custody. But she was still an alcoholic. Angela felt responsible for her siblings, and became “mom” to her own mother and three little boys.

Photo: Angela with Oksana Pankyeyeva

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In 2006, when we met Angela, her daughter Sasha was an infant, and her boyfriend was in prison. She began spending time with us, and when the Shelter opened in 2007, she attended all our meetings. She was part of the first Stop the Cycle group; and she came on our first moms’ retreat to the sea. She began bringing her littlest brother to Last Bell gatherings when he was nine; he’s sixteen now and a valued volunteer.

Photo: Angela and baby Sasha

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Angela decided to follow Jesus, but her boyfriend wasn’t interested in Christianity, and they broke up. In prison, he threatened to kill her, but once he was released he disappeared. Then Angela was a single mom.

Photo: baby Sasha

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She married a young man, Andrey, who is kind and treats her well. He attends all the Stop the Cycle meetings. Andrey takes care of his family, and he’s always asking questions about the Christian faith. Their baby Artyom is now five years old, and Sasha is nine. Angela is an active member at Central Baptist Church, and her husband sometimes visits.

Photo: Pastor Pavel blesses Angela and Sasha

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Two years ago, we shared about a nail/salon skills workshop provided by a local social services organization. Angela’s dream was to become a hairdresser; so she joined the class and earned a certificate. She was thrilled with her new skills! Over the phone she told Oksana, “I cut my husband’s hair! Can you believe it?”

Photo: the workshop group with their certificates

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However, she and Lena, another Stop the Cycle mom, wanted further training. A workshop teacher met with them at the Support Center, and they began practicing on Last Bell’s young people, charging only what their customers could afford. Angela’s co-workers and neighbors also come to her for haircuts.

Photo: Angela with a grown-up Sasha at the Shelter, Last Bell’s home in central Zhytomyr

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However, while Angela and Lena have skills, they don’t have official diplomas. They both dream of having their own salon business.

The two women approached the staff with a proposal: they could study in a real salon school if Last Bell could pay for half the tuition.

Photo: Angela with her two children and little brother

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Angela is a trustworthy young woman. She’s a team leader at her workplace, and she’s always taking care of her friends and serving others. Andrey has a re-upholstering business, and is saving up to buy a van. Right now, they don’t have their own place to live; they stay with Andrey’s mother.

Photo: Angela, Andrey, and their children

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The staff agreed to Angela and Lena’s proposal, with one condition: once a week, the two of them would provide completely free hair salon services for Last Bell’s young people.

So on Thursday evenings, these two young moms give back by providing a much-needed service to their community. They’re making plans to pay half of the tuition, and in a few days they’ll start salon school. Praise God for this opportunity to help our young people “not just survive, but thrive!”

Photo: a younger Sasha