Saturday, December 17, 2011

As part of a school project Travis, who lives in Israel, mailed 13 parcels each weighing about 40 pounds to Tsurupinsk Children's Home.

He collected and sent clothes (new and second hand), some hygiene items, candy ($600’s worth) and birthday cards for +-80 children.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thank you to Mrs. Purcell's AM and PM Kindergarten Classes (Phoenixville, PA) for collecting crayons and colored pencils during the month of October and over 120 pairs of socks during the month of November for the orphans in Ukraine.

They are selecting a small item to collect each month. December's collection is granola bars and other small healthy treats.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Orphan Smiles Graduate Assistance Program (GAP)

To learn about these unsponsored students visit our webpage or send an email to

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tsurupinsk USA Visit

The children have gone to the beach, the zoo, a professional soccer game, bowling, Boeing's museum of flight and other Seattle attractions. They have learned to wash dishes in a dishwasher, clothes in a washing machine, to have a family meal around the table, and how it feels to have someone tuck them in at night.

We took the children to Chuck E. Cheese's and celebrated each child's birthday. The children got their own cake with candle to blow out and individual presents. They were so surprised and very grateful!

The Fourth of July was celebrated with the individual families as the more the children are here, the more the families want to do one on one activities with them rather than group things - a natural part of the family hosting process.

Already people are talking about whether or not we can do this next summer, make it longer and involve more families. Each host family has friends, family and neighbors that have met the children and are interested in helping the orphans in some way.

We are excited for the possibilities of more supporters and volunteers, but saddened at the reality of the children returning to the orphanage, the older ones graduating to an institution for the rest of their lives.

Bogdan wrote to let us know that he and the Tsurupinsk director and children arrived safely back in Ukraine after their amazing visit to the US. Special Thanks to Debbie and Jerry and the whole Walker family for organizing the in-country portion of the trip. They and the host families were amazing. Also special thanks to Xavier University Orphan Smiles club and to Artful Giver whose fundraising also helped make this trip possible. And of course Bogdan had to do so much paperwork in Ukraine to get the necessary approvals.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Class of 2010: 29 down, 5 to go!

We are so happy that our Class of 2010 is almost completely sponsored. One year into vocational school, 29 students have that special person in their lives who offers financial and emotional support. But five of them still haven't found a sponsor! Our goal for May Focus Week is to change that.

This month, we invite you to take a look at some of the 2010 Mykolaivka grads (all boys) who are still waiting for their very own sponsor. Could it be you?

As a GAP sponsor, you will send $30 a month to support your student. More importantly, you will exchange letters and photos with your student. You are not required to send packages, though they are always welcome.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Focus week: GAP Myko students

This month’s focus week is for GAP Myko students. We have seven graduates who are looking for sponsors for a year at which time they will graduate from trade school.

Today we are featuring Ivan. This soccer playing fishing fanatic has no family to help him along while he is in trade school. He is studying plumbing at Kramatosk and his happy nature is a big hit with his roommates.

If you are interested in helping Ivan, we would love to hear from you. Additionally, all available students that we will be featuring can be found here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Want to help Vasia to help himself?

Vasia is a graduate of Tsurupinsk Orphanage and a gifted painter. He paints with his mouth since he does not have arms. Vasia specializes in landscape and nature scenes, but he also paints wildlife and portraits.

When he aged out of the orphanage as a teenager he was able to attend vocational training for two years. After he graduated the officials in the region where he lived simply put him on the train to Kiev, basically transferring all their responsibility to another area. Vasia had nothing in Kiev.

We are very grateful that Bogdan was able to step in and help. Without Bogdan's assistance, perseverance and many hours of work Vasia would be living on the streets in Kiev.

An Orphan Smiles is so proud of Vasia and his determined spirit for wanting to live independently despite his disabilities. There are many obstacles in Ukrainian society for a person like Vasia. People with special needs are not given opportunities to live independently and are often institutionalized. They face many challenges in a very unaccepting society.

Vasia is painting to support himself. If you are interested in Vasia’s artwork, please see here for more details.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

An Orphan Smiles JANUARY 2011 Focus Week was a TO GIVE project to raise funds for the Tsurupinsk Library. We raised over $600 and purchased 176 books for the School Library. This represents a wonderful collection of fairy tales, science fiction, children's detective stories, illustrated encyclopedias, learning materials, needlework, and architecture of Ukraine. All the books are new and from Ukrainian publishers.

Our next goal is to raise another $500 to purchase a set of "Classics" that can be used as part of the school curriculum. We already have $320 towards this effort and with a few more donations, we hope to have these desired books on the shelf before the next school term.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bogdan recently forwarded to us a translated letter and photo that the children from Orphanage 12 received in response to a card they sent to "Santa Claus" or more than likely in their case "Father Frost". The response letter to the children was written by a Russian journalist in Moscow:

Dear Children,

Not long ago I was lucky to visit Santa Claus in Finland. His name in Finnish sounds very funny - "Yo-oo-loo-poo-kee". In Russian it sounds funny but in Finnish it means "Father Christmas". On the shelves in his house, Santa has lots of letters from children from all over the world. Santa let me have a look at some of those letters. Imagine my surprise when the first card I took from the shelf read "Z Naikrashimi Pobazhaniami" (Very Best Wishes - in Ukrainian). I don't understand Ukrainian very well but THAT I could understand. The card said it was from children of Orphanage No.12 in Kiev. Having read that card, I felt really warm and bright. You know what? You were the only ones who didn't ask Santa for anything. On the contrary - you were wishing Santa all the very best. Many children in their cards were just asking for things - a car, a helicopter, a truck, a computer, a doll.. .

You children are real good kids! That's what Santa and I concluded. I specifically made a photo of Santa with your card.

I would like to wish you all the very best! Don't give up and don't despair! Santa himself knows about you!

Vika Ivleva
Journalist from Moscow, from "Novaya Gazeta"

Friday, February 18, 2011

An Orphan Smiles has students available for sponsorship in our GAP program (Graduate Assistance Program). We try to help these unsponsored students while they patiently wait for a sponsor friend. This is a letter we received from Vova recently in appreciation for help from An Orphan Smiles.

We are happy to report that Vova now has a sponsor, but there are others who still are waiting. Please consider sponsoring one of these deserving students or help with our unsponosered student fund.

Letter Translation:
Hello my dear friends,

I am very happy that I have such kind and nice friends as you who has helped me so much in this life.

I am studying at a college to become a professional wall painter and plasterer upon graduation. I really like the profession that I am going to enter in the future. At my college, I have lots of male and female friends, and together with them I study and have lots of fun. On December, the 19th, we celebrated a holiday, the Day of Saint Nicolas. It is a day when Saint Nicolas gives gifts to children who behave well.

I had a great time in the summer of 2010 – I made a trip to a sea. I would like to continue to communicate with you and be your friend. Thank you for the money that you sent me, I spent the money on cleaning supplies. In my spare time, I like to watch TV, listed to music and engage in sports activities.

I congratulate you on the Christmas Holiday.

The whole family has gathered at a dining table,
Happy Christmas;
Jesus Christ came to our world
And he brought us a lot of happiness.

Your friend,

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Feed the Soul - Trip to Kiev

An Orphan Smiles sponsored a trip for ten orphans to visit Kiev, the Capital city of Ukraine for the Holidays. These children live in a rural city and rarely leave the orphanage grounds.

Trip report from Bogdan, one of our in-country volunteers:

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! I would like to congratul...ate everyone with the successful completion of yet another AOS sponsored trip to Kiev for a group of 10 Myko kids. The trip was a HUGE success! The kids were totally blown away. They stayed at Orphanage No.12 from December 26-28 and didn't want to leave today. The first day we took them to a children's Christmas play, McDonald's and the Dolphinarium. The next day they went to see the performance of the Great Circus of China, saw a 3-D Disney movie (Tangled) and had pizza. Today they went to another Christmas show. Their train was leaving at 4 p.m., so we didn't get much time to do other things today. Kiev was beautiful with all the snow and Christmas decorations. There was lots of free entertainment for children downtown, so the kids really enjoyed that. They loved the metro, the escalators, the shiny shopping malls etc. They had breakfasts and dinners at the orphanage and ate lunch in the city. Irina and our grads (Anya, Igor and Vova) were making all the meals. Another lady from the orphanage came to make 'pirogy' (pies) with the kids today, for them to take for the road.

When I asked what the liked the best, most kids said 'dolphins' and 'chinese circus'. I think it wasn't even the circus but just seeing so many people of another race in one place that fascinated them so much. Kids from Tsurupinsk and Myko are always fascinated by seeing people of color on the streets of Kiev because they have never seen them in their small towns.

This group was by far the most well-behaved. Usually Myko kids are pretty wild (which I personally like....most of the time :) but these ones were very quiet, polite and disciplined. Everyone at O12 noticed that. The chaperone that came with the group - Alexey, a PE teacher - was great with the kids.
We gave each kid a present from the boxes of "Blankets in Memory of Brian". Each kid also got two boxes of chocholates and some pocket money to buy a small souvenier (50 grivna, or $6.2).

There is one more thing that I wanted to share with you. Personal observation. When the memories of the previous trips fade away I start wondering if we should organize another trip or not, considering how much money and work these trips entail. But then when the kids come I realize so clearly that these trips are TOTALLY worth it. When you see the excitement and the happiness in the children's eyes, when you see them fascinated by simple things that you see every day, you realize that these moments of happiness and excitement are worth a million dollars. I just feel bad that those who pay for these trips can't see that.