In recent years I have seen a shift in the kinds of experiences people want when travelling to foreign countries. More people, including myself, want an organic “non-tourist” experience that allows them to connect with locals and integrate into their community. This experience can help one understand other cultures and how we are all different, but more importantly how we are all the same. With this in mind, I decided to visit Ukraine orphans to connect with the forgotten children.
In my research, I found that there were over 100,000 orphaned children currently living in 500 government run orphanages. All were short supplied and only survived from private donations. So many children in need of essential items and love.
Not speaking the language I asked a few of my new friends to help locate the local orphanages and determine what their immediate needs were. We found one just outside Kharkiv in a city named Chuguev where 15 children were in need of winter boots, pillows and warm bedding. With the help of the locals, I was able to buy and deliver these items without any stress. The day we visited the orphanage I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting to see sad children but saw the opposite. Even though they didn’t have parents or any belongings, they still had each other and were so happy and full of energy. It was a magical day and by asking locals to participate they were inspired to go back and continue to help out in the future. An unexpected positive side effect.
It’s not the typical vacation activity for most, but it is an excellent way to connect with local communities and help out. For this reason, we started excursions to local orphanages for foreigners that want to visit Ukraine orphans and have a different experience.