Yuliy’s parents are deceased, and he was placed in an orphanage very young. He lived with extended family for a time, but he was verbally abused and his government stipend was taken to pay off debts.
When we met him, Yuliy was on track for university. He had an arbitrary placement in college studying construction. But a congenital problem with one eye made studying almost impossible, gave him headaches, and made him shy. In early 2018, a Last Bell friend paid for surgery to replace one ocular lens, while our staff advocated for him with the doctors. Now he can see! His vision isn’t 20/20, but it’s normal.
With his vision restored, Yuliy became more confident meeting people and began to think about his future. In 2018-19 he took prerequisite IT classes, and in the fall of 2019 he matriculated as a full-time student of computer programming at Hebron IT Academy. Because of his improved vision, Yuliy is able to study on screens and pursue this dream.
Yuliy began to follow Jesus and attend church. He avoids thinking about the years when he couldn’t see. But he always says, “You’ve become my family. Thank you for your support, kindness, and help. Now I know who I am. Now I know God.”
While Vika lives with her grandmother, she’s a true orphan – both parents are deceased, her mother from alcoholism. Vika began attending our English lessons, then life skills classes and other events. She visits our Day Center regularly.
A few years ago, Vika camped in the Carpathian Mountains with us. In that beautiful, intimate setting, our staff developed a closer relationship with her. During a discussion about fears, Vika said she was afraid of speaking in public and at social events. Our staff shared that with God’s help, our fears can be overcome. Vika accepted this as the truth! She began speaking up and sharing her sense of humor. We prayed for God to help her communicate more easily.
Later that year, we learned Vika had some dental problems. One of her front teeth was broken, which had really been contributing to her negative self-image. We helped her make a dentist appointment, and a staff member accompanied her. She was finally able to get her teeth fixed.
With her newfound confidence, Vika landed a job as a waitress. Now she talks to new people every day. With God’s help she is overcoming her fears, and her life is just getting started!
Baby Nadia’s mother abandoned her, and when she was thirteen, her grandmother died. Nadia became pregnant at the university, then moved into a crisis social dorm. She wanted a master’s degree in education—a big dream! But when we met her, Nadia had run out of time at the dorm, and she needed childcare so she could study.
In 2017, Nadia moved into the Shelter. We helped with clothes, food, babysitting, and medical needs. A friend helped babysit too, and Nadia paid for school with her disability pension. She studied hard, and in early 2019, she received her M.Ed.!
Because of her degree, Nadia got a good position in private day care. While at the Shelter, Nadia became a Christian and was baptized; and she repaired ties with family members. Nadia serves in children’s ministry at her church. With her new salary and savings from staying at the Shelter, Nadia moved into her own apartment in August of 2019.
Nadia has osteoarthritis in both knees and both hips. She’ll need four expensive joint replacements eventually, but the need is not urgent. We’ll work with Nadia long-term on her health care.
Alona and Sveta’s father abandoned them, and their mom’s boyfriends abused them. They often ran away, and eventually they were taken to the orphanage. After trade school, the girls needed a place to live and continue their studies. Their family home had been condemned, then destroyed for development, without reimbursement.
A Christian connected to the mayor gave us good advice: we should ask the government to give the girls an old, broken apartment, knowing we could renovate. They did receive a badly fire-damaged flat, and our Restoration Project crew restored it beautifully in 2017. Alona and Sveta now have a true home where they can work, study, and offer hospitality. They host church groups, and sometimes a friend in need. Sveta babysits Stop the Cycle kids, and Alona volunteers at her old trade school with our staff.
They’ve also launched home businesses: Alona buys and resells baby clothes online; Sveta is a nail artist. Sveta is studying to be a chemistry teacher. Alona may pursue graduate studies after her final year studying psychology.
Unexpectedly, the girls’ father began helping with the renovation. Now he often visits. We could not have planned for this, and we thank God for this gracious gift.