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CBN.com Imagine living in an orphanage in Ukraine and having the opportunity to travel over seas and stay in American homes! That’s exactly what 40 orphans from Berdansk, Ukraine have been doing for the past two weeks. They are on a choir tour visiting several cities in the United States.
Each congregation they visit greets them with open arms. There are familiar activities, new things to explore, new games to learn, and endless parties.
“For many it was the first time, not only out of the country, but out of the orphanage,” says Natalyia Khomak, CBN Orphan Project Coordinator. “It was a great time for everyone.”
But by far what’s most special is spending time with their host families. They live in an orphanage with 300 children. So to have the opportunity to belong in a home, if only for a few days, is a priceless treasure.
"Yuroslov is a sweet boy but he has always been shy and reserved. On this trip I’ve seen a transformation in him," says Natalyia. "Having been in the orphanage since birth, he’s never known attention and love. Here everyone is giving him hugs and love and he’s blossomed. He seems to come out of his shell. He’s like a different child; no one recognizes him."
The sad fact is, if Yuroslov doesn’t get adopted, he faces a tragic future. Kids in Ukraine “age out” of the orphanage at 16 years old. Most of them have no where to go except government dormitories where drugs and crime are rampant.
"They are all living their last years in fear. Those that are in the orphanage know this," says Natalyia. "They know what happens to their friends and siblings, and they know themselves that they are not equipped to survive."
That is why the choir has traveled to America to raise awareness of the plight of orphans in Ukraine and to ask people to help through CBN.
One of many ways CBN and Operation Blessing are helping orphans in Ukraine is through training centers that teach job and life skills to teens about to age out.
"This is a great opportunity for these kids. They are grateful, thankful and are studying with a desire to succeed," says Natalyia. "We are teaching them how to live their Christianity out. They’ve been exposed while they were in the orphanage because Ukraine is a Christian country. But they’ve never heard how to have a relationship with Christ. We are teaching them that this is the only thing that will make their lives successful."
That is what CBN and Operation Blessing are committed to doing -- change lives! Although the members of this choir have had a wonderful time in America, what’s far more important is that we are sending them a message that they are not forgotten.
"When you see these kids, you have to respond. There is no way you cannot because you see their talents, and you know what is going to happen to them in a couple of years," says Natalyia. "We need to care for the widows and orphans. It’s a commandment, not a suggestion. We all can play a role in the lives of these kids -- whatever we are called to do. We have to do it, because God is the Father to the fatherless through you and me."
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