Unicef currently estimates the number of homeless children in Ukraine at over 150,000. The disease of Human Trafficking has hit Ukraine and children on the streets, are prime targets for these traffickers. Solutions are needed to save these children and the Bridge of Hope program is offering one solution. This solution is called Home of Hope. The Bridge of Hope program is the result of joint efforts of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton and the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, Ukraine.
This program has provided sponsorships, supported children’s summer camps and conducted Christmas shoebox campaigns to numerous children in Ukraine since 2001. The sponsorships throughout the past 12 years have undoubtedly helped hundreds of children avoid life on the streets and poverty, and the newest undertaking of the Bridge of Hope will be another resource to help change the life path of those destined to homelessness.
A house has been purchased in Lviv Ukraine and is currently being expanded to 5 times its original size. This building will have the capacity to house up to 24 people. The intent of this home will be to provide housing, security and life skills training to girls over the age of 16 to work toward beginning a career or furthering their education. The Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate in Lviv will staff it when it is complete. The home is geared towards girls of this age group because currently there are children’s homes and orphanages throughout Ukraine that house children but the resources are extremely limited for those past the age of 16.
Luba Kowalchyk, founder of the Bridge of Hope began this project because, in her words, wanted “these girls to know that our Church was there to reach out to them with open arms and help them and that they would know that they could be safe there.” This is an ambitious endeavour but due to the generosity of various benefactors it has become a reality. The total cost of the renovation and house purchase is estimated at $600,000.00. To date $250,000.00 has been raised and donated. The Bridge of Hope committee is depending on the continued generosity of donors throughout Alberta, and the world to be a part of this very worthy cause.
Bishop David Motiuk and Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak have been instrumental in their support of this project. The Home of Hope received the approval of Metropolitan Lawrence when he was Bishop of the Edmonton Eparchy in 2006. Bishop David has continued to carry the torch to move this project forward. The house was purchased in 2007 and both Bishop David and Metropolitan Lawrence were present at the blessing in 2008. After the appropriate documentation for purchase and renovations were obtained, construction began in the spring of this year. Completion of the renovations is projected for the spring of 2013.
Eva Kisil/Tomiuk, a long time parishioner at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic parish in Edmonton understands the great need and the good that can come out of a home like this. As a young teenager she experienced being taken away from her parents to a different country. She challenges everyone to support this worthwhile project. Fundraising efforts are going ahead in earnest now and will continue after the spring, for the renovation itself, for maintenance costs and for programming and living expenses.
It is hoped that this project will continue to be supported for years to come by patrons who see the immense value in it. There is a great need right now to raise the funds to build the home but the committee along with Bishop David and Metropolitan Lawrence are hoping that patrons will see this as an ongoing project that they may consider donating to on a monthly or yearly basis. Please visit www.ourbridgeofhope.com or phone: 780-424-5496 for more information.