Missionary updates


Youth of USA and Canada visited

Ukrainian orphans

Interview with missionary from USA

Ministry Agape organizes annual summer camps for orphans in Ukraine. We are happy to welcome volunteers from abroad who are very passionate about helping these children. Yuriy Skadanovsky has been coming for three consecutive years to help out during our summer camps. Last year, he brought a large team of youth with him. He shared some of his personal experiences and valuable lessons learned during the visits.

Yuriy, please tell us about your team

Our group consists of individuals who come from the United States and Canada. We all reside in different parts of the country; attend different churches, and even different denominations. The passion of serving the orphan children has united us and brought closer together. Each member of our team was introduced to the Ministry Agape through different sources but all made a decision to come to Ukraine and to work with orphans. This year, our group consisted of 30 people. We separated into groups of eight and resided in different orphanages one week at a time.

What is the main purpose of your visit and stay at the orphanages?

First and foremost we come during the summer vacation to give a helping hand to the Agape teaching staff. They work hard all year long with the children. We offer fun activities and sports to the children while alleviating some of the work load off the Agape teachers. We are able to provide new learning opportunities, experiences, and happy memories for the children.

Our secondary purpose is to be exposed to the living environment that these children reside in. They see that we live in the same setting and share the same cafeteria food. Through becoming “one of them”, we are more approachable in the eyes of the children. This gives us a chance to really see the world through their eyes and a deeper understanding of their needs.

Another vital part of our visits to Ukraine is to raise awareness among the Ukrainian youth here, in Ukraine, and in US. Many youth would like to help but are afraid to make the initial step. They think that one has to be a preacher or a saint to work with orphans. This is such a wrong perception. Orphans just need simple people to pay a little attention to them; to hug them, to listen to what they have to say. Anyone and everyone are capable of making a difference in an orphan’s life.

Yuriy, tell us how you personally connect with Ministry Agape. You have been coming back several years to volunteer for this ministry. You have also been actively involved in the organization of these missionary trips. What is the driving force behind your work?

I have always liked to work with children. I enjoy communicating with them, interacting, and teaching them. In the last several years of my work with children, I have noticed that they seek attention and approval of adults. I have seen the impact of my work in their lives. Children remember me. They wait for my visit every summer. I believe that the positive relationships we share offers orphans an opportunity to have a mentor, someone who can have a positive influence on the rest of their lives.

I am a Christian man. When I read the Bible, I realize that the orphan children are especially priceless in the eyes of God. The Bible tells us to take care of those who are less fortunate. When I visit these children, I realize the magnitude of the problem. As everyone else, I have choices in my life. I have a choice to remain in the US and continue my comfortable lifestyle or to come to Ukraine and work with orphans. I have made my choice. I find it more important to serve orphans rather than being busy with my life

You have some valuable experience working with orphans. In your opinion, how can volunteers such as yourself be most effective during their brief visits to the orphanages?

While residing at different orphanage, I have noticed that children are fed well and have good sleeping and classroom arrangements. They may need some additional clothing and toys. But I realized that materialistic things are of less important to them. What they really need are personal relationships. It is obvious that these children crave affection, attention, and authority figures in the lives.

I see the role of temporary volunteers is primarily to provide support for the Agape team by spending time with children. The Agape teachers go right back to work once we leave. So, we are happy to work with orphans and to provide support to the teaching staff. I have chosen to volunteer for Ministry Agape because I see the dedication of everyone involved. The teaching staff is wonderful and passionate about their work. Many of them take children to visit their homes on weekends and school breaks. Orphans who have an opportunity to spend time in Christian families on regular basis differ from the other children at the orphanage. The impact of exposure to family environment is positively reflected on their conduct and behavior.

After my initial visit to an orphanage, I had become far more grateful for the loving people in my life. Many children had shared their stories of unfortunate past with me. Many of them have criminal fathers who used to beat them, some parents are alcoholics. However, children hope that they will reunite with their parents some day. They are ready to forgive their parents and move on. I have realized how fortunate I have been not to have a childhood like one of these orphan children. I have a strong desire to help these children to the best of my abilities.