"All that is here is the best of my life! I'm happy that I have so many friends who love and appreciate me and I them! The Lord does everything for me and I remember that! With God it is easier than in a past life!" -- Marina, age 17A year ago, those thoughts would have never entered Marina's mind. She was a scared, defiant and self-conscious 16 year old, seeking attention from anyone who would give it. She told me "I really want friends, but I am unable to make any." Throughout her teen years, I saw how Marina was positioned as an outcast in the orphanage. Her behavior caused her classmates to reject her, so she hung out with the grade below her. She told me her teachers and caregivers didn't like her and spread bad rumors about her. Every time our team visited Shpola, Marina would hang back from the rest of the crowd ignoring us, and then she'd finally rush up with hugs right before we left. We all tried to get to know Marina, but she was a tough cookie who trusted no one. After she graduated from Shpola Orphanage, we invited her to spend a week at Kompas Park. Only 5 girls from Shpola came, and Marina was one of them. We had so much fun during that week of camp, but because Marina would not allow herself to trust us, we had some problems. She later told me that she didn't believe I was sincere. She couldn't accept that someone could be so nice to someone and not want something in return. She remained distant and skeptical. She felt the same way about God. Marina returned to her village to live with her alcoholic mother for the summer. This reaffirmed her decision to move away to Cherkasy to start Trade School and live in a public dormitory arranged by her social worker. Since she dreams of becoming a professional singer, we arranged for her to audition at a music college. We knew this would be a long shot, since Marina has had no previous musical training and she carries the stigma of coming from an orphanage school. Unfortunately, she wore the wrong clothes to the audition and they refused to allow her to audition. So, her social worker assigned her the easiestspot at Trade School, and was placed in the Special Ed seamstress group. Marina also had to live with 3 of her classmates in the public dorm. The room is horrible and the other girls smoke continuously, so Marina tries to be there as little as possible. Marina has taken refuge in our community of Believers in Cherkassy, along with many other Shpola Graduates. She attends our Youth Group and church with many of our volunteers. Our mentors have made an impact on her life in many ways. They have taught her what a real friend looks like. Since she was 8 years old, Marina has suffered from painful burn scars on her leg and neck. Once when her mom was drunk, Marina decided to make tea and splashed boiling water on herself. Third degree burns were never treated and they left thick, ugly scars down her leg making it painful to bend her knee. Last month, our plastic surgeon friend operated on Marina and she was in the hospital for 3 weeks. Each day, our dedicated volunteers brought food to Marina and encouraged her. We cared for her unlike anything she has ever experienced. Many people in Ukraine and in USA were praying for her. It was a long and painful process but now Marina is jumping and dancing! Marina still has a long way to go, but she is definitely on the right path. We would really like to find a sponsor for her. Maybe it's you?Just click on the donate button to sponsor Marina, or help us replenish our Medical Fund so that we can help others like Marina.