The Courage of an Orphan - Kharkiv, Ukraine
HOPE founder, Ralph Bromley, recently visited Kharkiv, Ukraine and shared a moving story of the courage of an orphan . . .
“I want to share an amazing story from Kharkiv, Ukraine where Donna and I recently visited. It is a story of Destiny Center’s deep love and care for the orphan. It is a story of touching lives in a significant way, one person at a time.
When we were greeted at the airport by Kostyantyn (Destiny Center), we were asked if we would like to drive into the countryside to meet with an orphaned mother and her child in their home. We welcomed the invitation.
We drove through the lush countryside for over an hour and I was beginning to wonder if we were going to wind up in Russia. Our host informed us that it would be just another 45 minutes. It was then that I began to ponder, “wow, they are taking us on a two hour drive just to visit with one orphaned mother that they disciple and care for! This is quite a demonstration of love.”
We finally arrived and drove up to a somewhat dilapidated house and met Yessa and her son, Daniel. She was shy and ashamed of her poor home but welcomed us in. There was no indoor toilet or running water. The floors were uneven boards and the three windows sat loosely in their moldings. I sat on the one chair in the room and watched quietly.
Yessa was abandoned as a young girl by her parents and raised in a government orphanage. Life was difficult but she survived and soon ‘aged’ out. Cast into a troubled world of poverty, unemployment and no education, Yessa soon found herself pregnant. In her distress she made two important decisions.
1. To Follow Jesus – Yessa had learned about Jesus from the Destiny team who visited the orphanage. Her knowledge was very limited, but it made the difference between making wise decisions versus entering a world of prostitution and drugs which so many others choose.
2. To Buy a House – Upon exiting from the orphan institutions, the Ukraine government gives each orphan a lump sum gift to get them started in life. Most orphans squander the funds soon after the money is in their pockets and wind up destitute, but Yessa found this dilapidated house owned by the government and bought it! She freezes in the winter and swelters in the summer, but this house is her home. She was somewhat ashamed of it (she told our host 3 times that she was ashamed and embarrassed), but I was so proud of her. This was a lady of courage and determination!
I began thinking of practical ways we could help Yessa. My eyes turned to the windows. I knew from the cotton stuffed in the cracks for insulation that the cold winds of winter would enter the room unchallenged. Why not ask questions about replacing the three windows?
Kostyantyn got on the phone to a local friend in construction. Over the phone he estimated the total cost of replacing two non-opening windows would be $100 (including labor). I said “let’s do it!” A good friend had provided me with ‘donor’ funds prior to my travels to the Ukraine. I made the commitment.
The third window, which could be opened, would cost $150. Rather than ‘gift’ this window to Yessa, Kostyantyn felt it best that she learn to budget funds from her meagre monthly government pension. I suggested that if she raises $50 towards the window, that HOPE provides the balance of $100 as a gift.
When we went to leave Yessa’s home, she ran to her small garden patch and picked the remaining beets she had grown, cleaned them, and placed them in a bag for us to take home.
Knowing these beets were destined for her root cellar, we tried to decline her offer. In the end we accepted four of the beets, kissed her goodbye and returned to our comfortable hotel.
I left Yessa’s home deeply blessed. She, who had so little, gave us so much. I understand just a bit better why God’s heart is so lovingly turned towards each orphan.