When I think about my time as a volunteer at Kompas Park camp, it is very difficult to narrow my thoughts to one event that would describe my experience. I could have never expected the connection I would make with each of the children in my group in such a short period of time as well as the impact we would make as a group.
The most poignant moment to me occurred on Wednesday evening as the boys in my group were preparing for bed. As I sat in the chair beside the window, a young boy in my group approached me and in a soft tone spoke a couple of words in Ukrainian over the loud noises in the hall as children scurried back and forth from the showers. It was almost as if for one second, he forgot that I wouldn’t be able to understand him and was very interested in my thoughts. Before I had the opportunity to look at Vova for a translation, the young boy put his arms around my body and squeezed me. The strength of his grip on my body nearly took my breath away. When I looked into his eyes, tears streamed down his face and I could see the desire in his eyes for not only acceptance but love. It really made me think about the last time that someone he trusted had embraced him. Growing up, I always remember my mother waking me up by coming into my room and laying with me. It broke my heart to think that something so simple and that I had taken for granted during my early life was something these kids longed for.
During my first mission trip to Nicaragua in the summer of 2013, I left feeling very accomplished in our work to provide remote villages with clean running water by digging and laying pipe. As I now sit here on the airplane going home and reflect on my time in Ukraine my feelings are much different. I feel incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to pour my heart into these kids this past week, but I leave an emotional wreck. I am emotional because I have to let go and trust God that the seeds that we planted will harvest and that the Ukrainian leaders that led so selflessly this week will continue to give them the same guidance and love in my absence. That my prayers from 5,000 miles away will comfort these children’s sadness and pain. I have come to realize that only God will mend their broken hearts. A piece of my heart will forever remain in Ukraine.
Youth Camp is coming up this July at Kompas Park! There are still several orphans who are in need of a $100 camp scholarship. Please consider donating to send an orphan to Youth Camp - I know it will mean the world to them! God Bless.
By: Will Gillett, Volunteer June 2019
Depending on which “official statistics” you believe, there are between 70,000 – 100,000 orphans in Ukraine living in about 750 institutions. This is a huge number. The Ukrainian government is doing its best to reduce it and is in the process of developing a foster care system.
But life is not about numbers; rather the children behind those numbers. Children who need our help. Children like Andrei.