The following stories are of children that were part of one of our summer camps in Ukraine. Their life-situations are tragic and very difficult. But as you read about their lives, you will see why these summer camps are so meaningful and important to allow these children to simply be children and have an experience they will remember the rest of their lives!
Artem, 9 years old
Artyom’s mother brings up four children by herself. But most of the time the children spend at the orphanage. In the camp, Artem is very fond of eating, he likes that there is a lot of food, and even extra, so he is not hungry. He also is very happy to have sweets and fruits; at home he gets it too rare. Artem likes sports games and competitions. Every evening he learns to pray together with all the kids.
Roman, 10 years old
Roman’s mother is a teacher. He has another older sister who lives separately. A disaster has happened to this family and they were forced to look for housing. For some time they lived in a construction trailer, they did not have food and they were starving. Mom was offered temporary help, and Roman was placed in a boarding school. He spends five days a week there, and on weekends his mother takes him home. Earlier in the boarding school, Roma often called his mother, missed her and worried. But in the camp he is “very busy”, always playing and running, and is very happy. He shares this joy with his mother.
Nadia, 13 years old, Katya, 10 years old
There are six children in this family. The children’s development is threatened and they are neglected. Nadia reads very poorly. All the children spend most of their time in the orphanage. Mom takes the kids only for the weekend, because there is nothing to eat and no clothes to wear at home. The girls are for the first time in the Carpathian mountains at the ServeNow camp. They went by train and saw the mountains. Despite the developmental features, they quickly learned to dance and sing songs in the morning Bible lessons. Katya learned to obey her sister – they try to stay together and become closer.
Marina, 11 years old
This family has four children. Their father killed their mother. But the father was not imprisoned or deprived of parental rights; he was admitted as beyond of the scope of justice. The father misuses alcohol, he doesn’t look after himself or the children. The older brother takes care of the kids. He dresses them. The children rarely visit their home; there is dirt, and nothing to eat. They always return with lice to the orphanage. For the first time in her life Marina went hiking and climbed to the top of the mountain. She did not want to go home at all.
Mariika, 11 years old
There are six children in Mariika’s family, a mother and a stepfather. Her parents have seasonal work, mainly on fields in the village. All the children live in a boarding school. It is easier for parents to feed them and dress them, because the humanitarian assistance provides the boarding school with clothes. Mariika is very happy in the camp. It’s a real gift for her. She enjoys every day. She prays together with all the kids every evening and sings songs from the morning lesson.
Katya, 11 years old
There are two children in Katya’s family. Their mother drinks heavily. It was difficult to gather the child to the camp – the mother couldn’t find clothes and the most necessary things. Katya is very afraid to remain hungry. She always asks for an extra food, even if there is still food on her plate. The elder brother stayed at home with mother. Katya worries about him very much, because he stayed alone with his drinking mother. The girl always looks after him at home. Katia is happy to be in the camp, she made many handicrafts and immediately gave them to children and adults.
Nadia, 11 years old
There are five children in Nadia’s family. They live with a father and a stepmother. They are waiting for the sixth child. The father tries to take care of children, but the family doesn’t receive any benefits or state aid. The girl would never have got into such camp; the parents are not able to afford it. Nadia likes to communicate with children and adults in the camp. Every evening she asks to pray for her sound sleep.
Ksyusha, 13 years old
Ksyusha was raised by her grandmother from childhood. Her mother leads an immoral lifestyle and isn’t engaged in kid’s life at all. In February of this year, their grandmother passed away. The children had to be returned to their mother, but she can’t cope with children. Ksyusha’s sisters and brothers will be adopted to a foster family. Ksyusha is struggling with the reality that she will go to live in someone else’s family and worries about it very much. Ksyusha is nursing her younger brothers and sisters like a mother. The girl had a good rest in the camp, she was just a happy child who plays and enjoys the childhood.
Diana, 9 years old
The grandparents take care of Diana. All teachers in the boarding school asked for this child to be taken to the camp. She is very active, talented and kind. One situation that happened with her in the camp was that she saw a boy, younger than her, crying, so she decided to figure out what had happened and stood up for him before the children who were older than her. She really liked to perform on the stage on a talent show.
Dina. 11 years old and Rostik, 13 years old
Their mother brings up the children alone. The family has no permanent place of residence. They constantly move from house to house, children do not study well, they often change schools. The mother is a heavy drinker. One day she left her youngest son (three years old) with the elder ones and went for a long time from home. After this incident she was almost deprived of her parental rights. Now the family lives with people who simply sheltered them out of pity. The children are in the camp for the first time. They were very influenced by the atmosphere of the camp. They became friends with children, saw examples of another attitude towards them. The children play, participate in every activity, and enjoy the camp.
Lena, 13 years old, Lisa, 10 years old
These two children are from a large family. There are ten of them. Their father died a year ago. At that time the parents were drinking heavily. They live in very poor conditions. During the year these girls live in the orphanage, and go to the village to visit their mother only during the summer. Lena takes care of all the little brothers and sisters. For the girl, this camp is a rest and a blessing. The children are very grateful for the food and accommodation in the camp. They do not see this at home. They also have met those who love Jesus and have learned about who Jesus is.
Igor, 9 years old
There are four children in the family. The father died when Igor was three years old. The boy took it very hard and felt lonely. Five years later his mother got married, and two more children were born in the family. This is a very needy family. The church helps them with clothes and food. Different people have helped this family to get Igor to the camp. In the camp, Igor learned about Christ. One day he came up to the counselor and said: “I learned a place from the New Testament you have given me!”
Christina, 9, Julia, 13 years old, Sasha, 11
These children live in a village in the Chernigov region. They have a younger brother and a mother. The family lives in unrealistically bad conditions. There are no living facilities in the house where they live. The floor is made from dirt, there are no conditions for everyday life, such as a toilet and a shower. Mom drinks heavily, doesn’t care for children. Christina graduated from the first grade but so far she doesn’t know the letters. The children are neglected at school, because they have such a family, are poorly dressed, often have lice and because there is simply no place to wash properly. The oldest children also are very afraid of other people. They were really surprised by the conditions they have in the camp, for them it is like a fairy tale. Here they learn to make friends with other people and to take care of themselves.
Igor, Vika, 11 and 13 years old, Kiev
These children’s parents are drug addicts. They are constantly drunk and their home is a hangout for other drug addicts; and all of this is going on in front of the children. The apartment is unfit for the children to live in. Their mother is not deprived of parental rights and the father doesn’t live with them full-time. Most of the time the children spend with other children and in the rehabilitation centers. Igor and Vika have a younger brother who recently got burned with acid due to his mother’s negligence. Children are very poor at school. In the future, the mother will be deprived of parental rights, and the children will go to a foster family. In the camp, children see love and care and through this they learn to know God.
Sofia, 10 years old.
Sofia only has a mother, her father died tragically. This small family lives in the village. This is a simple rural family. Sofia has never been anywhere, she hasn’t ever left the village. She heard the gospel in the camp. The work will be continued with this family, as Sofia will be invited to Sunday school, and the mother will come to church too!
Kristina, 10 years old
Kristina is from a large family. Their mother drinks and does not care for children, so the girl and her sisters spend all their time in the boarding schools. The father also drinks, and doesn’t help the mother. Despite this, the children were not allowed to go to the camp for a long time, and then they could not gather them, because of lack of all necessary things. But because of kind and caring people around them, the child has all necessary stuff for the camp. For this girl, the camp is a chance to see a different atmosphere and attitude, to make friends with children. Kristina prayed together with other children the prayer of repentance. This family needs the guardianship of believers. Parents misuse alcohol; lead a dissolute life, but Kristina is looking for another way for herself and another future.
Nadia and Lilia, 9 and 11 years old.
The girls’ father died years ago. But now their mother recently died from drug addiction this spring. Their parents were not just drug addicts, but they have made drugs at their home. Now their grandmother will care for kids. This camp will help to build relationships with the grandmother and not lose the contact with these girls in the future. They will be able to go to the home group, so that believers can care for them, although the grandmother doesn’t go to church. The girls liked the food in the camp and the fact that they are given so much attention and love.
Vladik, 9 years old, Kiev
Vladik is from a large family with low income. Their dad drinks heavily and both parents are unbelievers. In the camp Vladik learned to cope with many things himself. He wakes up without clock alarm, makes the bed, learns to care after himself. He was very interested in the stories from the Bible and asked many questions about God; he even began to pray with everyone! Christians help take care of this family; and they invite children to Sunday school. In this way they seek to try to influence their mother and drinking father for Christ.
***If you have been moved with compassion by these stories and would like to partner together to enable ServeNow to continue serving children like these around the world, check out our website to discover ways you can get involved: ServeNow.