Ukraine. If you have turned on your TV lately, you have heard about this little country, about the size of Texas, situated between Russia and Europe. I love Ukraine. More than half of my family is made up of Ukrainians. Out of 10 Davie children, 6 of them began their lives in Ukraine. We have family and friends there. We travel there several times a year. In fact, I just returned from there 3 days before Christmas with our three newest children.
The protests in Kyiv were still in their infancy when were there. We visited Maidan and I was moved by the peaceful nature of those in attendance; inspired by their patriotism and respect. All of my children speak Russian as do most people that we know in Ukraine. In all my visits there, this one included, I never felt any prejudice or ill will toward Russian speakers or even Russians for that matter. No. The people of Ukraine simply wanted to escape the oppression and corruption of their own government.
That is why today I shake my head in disbelief that there is a real threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, especially in far east Ukraine on the Russian border, where 5 of my children are from. Daily we read the news reports and talk to friends and family there. They are all OK; but some of them believe the Russian propaganda that says the US is to blame for everything. My children don’t understand the politics of it all; they ask if they will still be Ukrainian if their country is taken over by Russia. They wonder if Ukraine will become “a part of Europe” or cease to exist.
I am very thankful that I got all of my children out of Ukraine before this crisis. However, my heart breaks for the orphaned children I know that remain there. I am President of an organization called Grace to Ukraine. Each summer we bring orphaned Ukrainian children to Alabama to introduce them to a new culture, a new language, a new way of thinking. We introduce them to hope. We then visit these children in Ukraine, taking them winter coats, hats and socks. We also provide a monthly supply of disposable diapers to a special needs orphanage in east Ukraine. We have been doing this for over a year and the quality of life there has greatly improved just by this simple gesture. These are innocent children. Orphaned through no fault of their own. And now caught up in a political struggle they don’t understand. One that will either pull them westward toward more help and more hope; or eastward toward a country that has halted adoptions and is renown for its substandard care of the orphaned.
Often people ask me and my husband, Gabe, why we chose Ukraine. I like to respond to this question by asking “why not Ukraine?” We are licensed foster care parents. We have adopted a child domestically. We have helped build orphanages in Haiti and supported the care of the poor and orphaned in Uganda. But God, through a series of circumstances, gave us children from Ukraine. We would not have rejected them based upon their nationality and we will not now turn our backs on their home country and the people we love that are still there.
Likewise, Grace to Ukraine, cannot turn back from its mission there. In fact, our mission there has become all the more urgent. Ukraine is in financial ruin; robbed by its own elected officials. Services to the poor, already a low priority, will suffer even more. As long as we are allowed to do so, we will go; we will help; we will endeavor to bring hope and love to children whom society has ridiculed and shunned. We plan to bring 10 orphaned children to Alabama the first three weeks of June and we look to our neighbors to help feed them, clothe them, and expose them to Alabama culture. If God closes that door due to the political situation, we will look for new ways to help.
We have been blessed in such a way, that the question boils down to one of “why would we not help the children of Ukraine?” And even “why would we not add to our family when we can?” But in telling our story, I don’t want to bring attention to what we have done. Rather, I hope to inspire you to begin to look at your world through different eyes. Perhaps you are not called to go to Ukraine. But there are 195 other countries in this world. Many with impoverished and orphaned children. Some estimates say there are as many as 143 million. You can’t help them all; but maybe you can help one. Grace to Ukraine is one avenue. There are many, many others. I welcome the opportunity to speak to churches and civic groups about the various ways to get involved with orphan care and can be reached through our website, www.gracetoukraine.net.