The name “Bohdan” means “given by God.” Twenty-one years ago, in Ukraine, God gave a mother, a twin sister and countless friends a much-loved gift – and his name was Bohdan. Sadly, for all of us left behind, this past week, Bohdan was taken from this earth by way of a Russian land mine that exploded. Shrapnel imbedded into Bohdanchik’s temple, leaving him in a coma for 3 days before going home to the Lord. During his short time on earth, he was a bright light shining in a dark place.
Like many of our Orphan Graduates, Bohdan joined the military almost a year ago, at the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. Having carried the stigma of being raised in an orphanage, and therefore being at the bottom of the social totem pole for most of his life, Bohdanchik had difficulty finding gainful employment, despite his Trade School diploma. So, when the opportunity arose, he joined the Army – not an orphanage, but still a familiar institution setting – and in a way, he gained a new family.
It was not long after enlisting, that Bohdanchik reached out to us for help. It turned out that his entire unit did not have even the basic necessities needed to defend Ukraine – let alone protect themselves. So, thankfully, volunteers at Hope Now were able to source and supply vital items such as bullet proof vests, sets of military clothing, IFAKS (Individual First Aid Kits), helmets and boots. Bohdan’s army unit was very pleased, and glad after all to have this young buck in their midst, who seemed to have connections. His recently reunited mother, now suffering through cancer, was so proud of her young son.
I had the immense pleasure of meeting Bohdanchik when he was just a wild and crazy 13-year-old! A charming and sometimes mischievous boy, he always had a ring of loyal friends around him. He was a natural leader and was popular with students and teachers alike. Bohdan was a competitive athlete who excelled in most sports – especially soccer. But his talents didn’t stop there, as he was also a gifted performer – a budding rapper! And he was always ready to join in the fun playing our outlandish games at camp. I loved being around him. He was the life of the party but was also a sweet and vulnerable youngster who still craved hugs from moms like me.
Like most children taken away to live and to be educated at an orphanage in Ukraine, Bohdanchik ‘aged-out’ of the orphanage after completing 9th grade. I always try to attend the graduation ceremony, and I am grateful that I was able to be there. I have always been impressed with the kids in Bohdan’s class – they were all very close and got along well, despite the widespread trauma and violence most of these kids grew up with. I always present each graduate with a gift – usually a bag of useful goodies the kids will need as they start their independent lives away from orphanage life. And for Bohdan’s graduation class, we also started a new tradition and took the kids on a field trip to Sofivka Park, and then treated everyone to pizza and ice cream. Bohdanchik thought it was so cool to be in a real pizza restaurant.
Twenty-one years ago, when Bohdan was born, he was actually a triplet! Yes, there were 3 children. Katerina was always trying to take care of Bohdan, and tragically, little Ihor did not make it. After their father (a long-time alcoholic) abandoned them, the family quickly slipped into poverty as things went from bad to worse. Soon, Social Services came to take the children away and Mom lost some of her parental rights. However, this allowed Mom to get seasonal jobs picking fruits and crops in the field, but this was not enough to feed the children. The orphanage became their new home. Our Orphanage Team visited throughout the school year to build relationships with the kids, and these became stronger during our summer camp time at Kompas Park. Soon, Bohdanchik, Katya and most of the other kids from Class 9 were off to Trade School – so we just drove a few more hours to visit the kids there. They actually said they couldn’t believe we would come all that way to visit them, but we did.
There are actually 4 other Orphan Graduates serving in the Ukrainian Army – just from Bohdan’s class! Plus, there are many more that are either a few years older or younger, and our prayers for safety are with them every day. It is a relief to know that over the past year, Bohdanchik gave his life to Christ, and often called our team members to pray with him. All those seeds sprinkled over the past 8 years seemed to have taken root! Praise the Lord! As the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine looms ever closer – now only 36 hours away – we are saddened by the unjust and unnecessary loss of Bohdan’s treasured life. Please join us in praying for a complete victory for Ukraine, and Lord willing, that it comes soon. If you would like to help our Orphan Graduates serving in the Ukrainian army, please click the blue bar to donate. With your help, we can continue to provide these kids with the protection they need to have a chance at survival. Rest in peace, precious Bohdanchik. Go with God.
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