During a recent trip to Ukraine, I visited with Artyom and Dasha, a brother and sister who live in a loving Ukrainian foster family. This month we share their story, in their words, to highlight the plight of the unnumbered anonymous kids just like them. MP sponsors partner together with loving Ukrainian families to permanently change the stories of abandoned children just like Artyom and Dasha.
Artyom Shares Their Story
“Hello. My name is Artyom and I am 14 years old and I live in Bucha, a village near Kyiv. My sister’s name is Dasha. She is 13. There are 14 children in our foster family. I don’t know exactly how many boys and girls. There are 7 of us under 18 years of age and we live together like a big family.
“My mother’s brother was in prison for killing our grandfather. This uncle had a right to our apartment because the flat belongs to the family and all of the kids have a right to it. So, he would send his friends to come live in our flat.
“My mom and dad were not happy about it. Our mother started drinking a lot during this time and things got really bad. I was about 7 or 8 years old. She started having sexual relations with some of these men. Our father tried to forgive mother. Eventually, another baby was born from a different man–our sister, Vika.
“Our parents divorced and mother drank non-stop. She just grieved about everything in our lives. We stopped eating because there was no food. Sometimes we would beg on the streets for food. The strange men she brought home to our apartment became mean and aggressive. After Vika, mother had another baby. Our baby brother died when mother passed out drunk and slept on the baby and he suffocated.”
“I Escaped and Crawled Out the Door”
“One of the men beat me so badly I cried out for God to save me,” Artyom continued. “I did not know God like I do today, but it was my first time that I cried out to Him. Finally, I escaped and crawled out the door into the hallway crying. Dasha ran out the door into the street and hid behind the garbage cans. The man followed her, running and screaming, but he did not find her. I got her and we ran and hid behind a small shop. The lady who worked there was kind and would give us fruit sometimes. My mother came out carrying Vika, but she didn’t see us. They walked off somewhere to go drinking.
“The police came, along with social services, and took us to an orphanage. They found our mother and arrested her. They put Vika into a different orphanage from us. Eventually, they placed Vika with our father and his new wife.
“We stayed in the orphanage for about one year. A church group would visit the orphanage and do outreach in the neighborhood. Sometimes, we would go and hope they would give us food. We weren’t interested in their words but we always hoped for food. We were not believers.”
Dasha Shares Her Story
I asked Dasha, “How was your experience in the orphanage?”
“I learned to dance there, to do waltz and other dances. One teacher liked me so much she would bring me small candies from home. On the Women’s Day holiday, Artyom and I danced together like ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ I was really excited and knew my mother would come to see us. She didn’t come though, and we have only seen her one time
in the last five years.
Dasha packed her bags preparing to go to her first MP Camp for teens. “I love doing crafts the best,” she said. “I have been to other camps and it was not good. I don’t want to go back there.”
A few days later, we visited the camp and talked to Artyom and Dasha again.
“I love this camp so much because counselors love you and help you,” Dasha said.
“I like it because it is like a family camp. We are like a big family and I love that I
can talk to everybody here. Thank you for inviting me!”
Artyom: “You Can Tell the Counselors Love You”
Artyom was also glad to see us. When I asked about his father, he shared, “Our father is married and I see him maybe once per month. I always invite him to church. He came with us on Christmas! We just have to keep praying for him.”
He added, “I really like the camp too. I like the different speakers and the subjects they teach. It is always very interesting and they share their heart and soul with us. I have been five times and I love coming. The counselors pray and talk with us. You can tell they love you.”
A New Life Story
Artyom and Dasha lived a tragic early childhood. Their life journey today, however, has changed. Christian foster parents love them and give them a stable home. Sponsors support them and send them to camps where faith is modeled for them by counselors who love the Lord. Together, we are watching new life sprout and blossom before our eyes.
What the enemy intended for evil, God has used it for saving many lives. Genesis 50:20 (Joseph speaking to his brothers)