Since December 2009, the charity CHILDREN FIRST has helped the poorest children of Bila Tserkva (about 80 kilometers south of Kiev, Ukraine) by initiating the “SPONSORSHIP” project.
Children accepted into this project grow up without a father who may be either deceased, unknown or in prison and are therefore very needy. They face serious daily hardship and economic difficulties.They suffer in “silence” and without the hope of a better childhood. They are malnourished, because their diet is often low in protein, vitamins and minerals, which causes a slowing of their physical and intellectual growth. Furthermore, the children of Bila Tserkva are still absorbing low level nuclear contamination as a result of the ill-fated nuclear reactor explosion which happened on the 26th of April, 1986.
Because of the war in the East of the country and the political problems that are plaguing the Ukraine, the mothers, who are widowed or separated and in any case alone, live in poor socio-economic conditions and are entirely dependent on an income provided by the state. This income is slowly becoming smaller and smaller and is therefore insufficient to permit the survival of the family, which is forced to live in tiny apartments in the crumbling ruins of the many abandoned buildings which were built during Soviet rule and which are now often without electricity and water.
Despite the distance from areas of fighting between government soldiers and pro-Russians, these children are now even more vulnerable than in the past, as they are subject to the restrictions that war imposes, such as the lack of basic necessities and goods which are no longer available to the general population, but which have been diverted to civilians living in the “front line” areas, and to the soldiers.
These children are identified and reported to us as being particularly in need of our help, by the director of the partner organization “Bila Tserkva Town Public Organization”, Nina Sokolenko (see “People”). Since the beginning of this program, we have worked with this extraordinary and reliable person who, given the immense sacrifices that her country is forcing upon the population, devotes all of her time to finding the best way to alleviate the suffering of others.
Over the years, we have established a strong rapport of trust and esteem with Nina and her volunteers, the reciprocation of which has created a very precious friendship. Together, we agree upon the financing of both healthcare for seriously ill children suffering from leukemia or other chronic diseases and sponsorship for the children to make their lives less burdensome.
Once a month, one of our volunteers accompanies a mother and her child to a supermarket near their home, where, under the volunteers’ supervision, healthy, nutritious food is purchased, above all yogurt, meat, fruit and vegetables. When there is enough money, school supplies such as exercise books, pencils and crayons are also bought.
The relationship with your sponsored child is very personal. You can write letters, send parcels with gifts inside or visit the child at their home thanks to Nina and her valuable staff, who are completely at your disposal to accompany you to see the child’s family. There, you will be able to experience the hard reality the child is forced to grow up in.
After several years, a strong bond is created between you and your sponsored child. If requested, it is possible to bring your child to Italy to spend a holiday with his/her sponsor father or sponsor mother. In short, a very personal relationship with your child is built up, which as well as giving you immense joy, will help you appreciate the richness of the everyday things in our lives which we so often take for granted.
Twice a year you will receive (at the end of June and at the end of December) an e-mail containing a half-yearly report concerning your child’s personal and educational development, one of your child’s drawings, some current photos and a letter of thanks from the child and/or his or her mother.