Katya, a young woman from our Ternopil site in Ukraine, has a favourite quote that she often reflects on: “If love is in your heart, you are in the palms of God.” Katya’s been sponsored for the past 11 years, and tries her best to spread the love of God with others. “The main calling of each person is to love others and be ready to help them, therefore fulfilling God’s will,” Katya smiles.
Looking at sincere, balanced, and thoughtful Katya, it’s hard to believe that she’s lived through so much tragedy and sadness. When Katya was just two years old, her mother passed away in a car accident. Katya and her siblings were left orphaned and heartbroken. Their loving grandmother adopted the four children, and tried her best to provide for a good life for them.
When Scolastica’s mother passed away, she and her sister’s life changed forever. The two sisters from Nanyuki, Kenya, had to leave their lives behind and move in with their uncle, who offered to adopt the girls into his family. Scolastica’s uncle has a wife and children of his own, and works as a casual laborer to make ends meet. The family doesn’t own land and lives in a rented house, and the financial burden of two extra children caused them to quickly fall behind.
Laurette faced poverty and hardship from a very early age. Both of her parents were peasant farmers in Western Kenya, and struggled to meet the basic needs of Laurette and her younger brother. They would often go days without a proper meal, and had to borrow food from relatives. The family couldn’t afford to purchase shoes or clothing, so the children went barefoot and wore makeshift clothing made from rugs.
At just eight years old, Laurette’s mom passed away from pneumonia. Laurette had to step up and help raise her younger brother, who was just five years old. She would accompany her father to work on farms, and do many of the household chores.
Four years later, when Laurette was 12, her dad suddenly passed away, too. Orphaned, Laurette and her brother were shuffled between family members. It was an incredibly difficult time for both children.
Twin brothers Valentyn and Mykhaylo live in a small, rural village near our Ternopil site in Ukraine. Natalya, their mom, suffers from multiple sclerosis. She’s unable to work, and must receive regular treatments for her illness. Her husband, Andriy, commutes 40 kms to work daily, while Natalya stays home and cares for the family.
“I do all the jobs around the house myself,” says Natalya. “My mother, Maria, also lives with us, and she has a severe form of diabetes and also requires care. I am not afraid of work, and when i’m feeling well, I’m not worried. But I often feel weakness in my arms and legs, get headaches, and get tired easily.” she says.
In Ukraine, beds remain one of the most frequently requested items from our gift catalogue. The majority of the families at our sites in Ukraine are large, and often times their homes are small. Children share beds with siblings and parents, with often up to four people sharing one small bed.
Over the years, we’ve used generous donations through our gift catalogue to replace broken beds with new ones, or provide bunk beds to siblings so that children could sleep in their own beds. Sofa beds are also a popular choice, as many families have limited living space- sofa beds can be used as a sitting couch during the day, and a bed at night.
Starehe Girls’ Centre, located in Nairobi, Kenya, is the only chance some girls get at a quality education. The boarding school was founded in 2005, and offers education to economically disadvantaged girls. The centre boasts an extremely high standard of education, and is meant to prepare girls to continue their studies competitively in university.
Starehe Girls’ Centre works in tandem with Chalice sponsorship to allow girls from poor backgrounds to attend. It also receives our support for sports teams, school gardens, student clubs, and more. “The Centre sets out to not merely provide food, clothing, and protection to girls in need, but to restore them in self-confidence so often injured by earlier misfortune in life,” says Sr. Jane our Starehe Girl’s site director.