With growing political tension and economic instability in Ukraine, the Yorkton Branch of the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada (UCWLC) has found a way to help provide safe haven for at least a few of that country’s most vulnerable people.
For some years, the UCWLC has donated to help house, clothe and educate orphans in Ukraine. Unfortunately, once services for these children end at the age of 16, many still have no place to go and wind up back on the streets where they, particularly girls, are prime targets of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. It is estimated thousands of young Ukrainian women are forced into sexual slavery every year.
Enter Home of Hope, a project undertaken by the Edmonton Eparchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church (UCC) and Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate (SSMI) in Ukraine, the same order nuns that is present in Yorkton. The idea was to build a home where some of these older girls could continue to find security and advance their education or work toward developing a career.
“When we heard about it through our congress last year in Saskatoon, we thought it would be a good area to reach out to these children by providing funds to house some of these children,” said Elizabeth Zahayko, president of the Yorkton UCWLC branch.
“Our organization holds a lot of mothers and grandmothers and I think
we could all visualize what would happen if it was our daughter or our grandchild. It was the human interest, that I think really touched the hearts of all our members.”
The women raised $4,000 last year from their two main fundraisers, bake sales just before Easter and Christmas. That money contributed to the construction of a room in the house including bedding and furnishings that will house five girls.
“When you consider the cost of what it is here in Canada, it’s amazing what they can do with that,” Zahayko said.
The home, which is located in Lviv—a city of 750,000 in western Ukraine approximately 70 kilometres from Poland—will accommodate up to 25 girls and be managed by three SSMI sisters.
Of course, it is not just a matter of building the home, there will be ongoing maintenance costs, as well as, money needed for food, education and transportation. Potential donors can get more information by contacting the Edmonton Eparchy through the website www.ourbridgeofhope.com or by phone at 780.424.5496.