This was my third time visiting Ukraine. Previously I have come to visit a friend I hosted as an exchange student in high school and her family who live in Crimea. The capital city Kiev and the Black Sea Coast in Crimea are lovely and I would recommend that people who visit Ukraine make sure to see them both. This is the first time I have been in Cherkasy, a town near Kiev, in the heart of Ukraine or volunteered and I enjoyed both throughly. Sasha my local volunteer coordinator and his family are very nice and were really helpful, showing me around town and translating for me. All of the children at the orphanage are so cute and sweet. They were always very excited to see me and very eager to practice speaking English. My host family lady is a very friendly and caring person and a good cook. I’m very much looking forward to returning to Ukraine this summer. I would recommend the Ukrainian Humanitarian Initiative to anyone who would like to help children and experience another culture.
Sarah Chandler, UK
The highlight of my month in Central Ukraine was undoubtedly the fantastic people I met. Children and adults alike made me feel welcome everywhere I went, and I was overwhelmed by their kindness, generosity and hospitality. Lots of people I met were eager to tell me about Ukraine and to learn about me and my country, all of which made for a very enriching experience. I volunteered in a school for children with learning difficulties and in two orphanages. The children were friendly and enthusiastic. I was welcomed with open arms, literally, and every day they asked “Will you be here tomorrow?”. They were clearly excited to have a new face and some extra attention, and they were delightful to work with. The pleasure they got from the activities I did with them was very rewarding for me too. The staff were also lovely and supportive, and a lot of the time I was made to feel like royalty. Staying with a local lady was a a great way to learn lots about the Ukrainian way of life and culture. Host lady looked after me very well, she worked her way through the Ukrainian national dishes and made sure I was never hungry! I felt very at home, able to come and go as I pleased, with privacy if I wanted it and someone to chat to if I wanted. The town centre location was very handy. The programme coordinator of UHI did a great job of making sure things went smoothly – providing orientation in the first few days, introducing me to local people who became my friends, and providing lots of ideas for things to do in my time off. The surrounding countryside and towns are interesting places to visit, and there is also plenty to keep you occupied in towns – museums, parks, riverside beaches, concerts, theatre, English club,and even boevoy gopak… if you want to know what it is, come and find out!
33, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Volunteer Tristan from Australia
Volunteering with the Ukrainian Humanitarian Initiative was a unique experience for me and of course for the children. I can’t think of a better way to contribute to the well-being of those in need, while having fun and sharing an unforgettable experience.
Having travelled extensively throughout Ukraine and having a reasonable understanding of Ukrainian Language and Culture, I thought it was time for a more immersive journey.
I expected it to be challenging and confronting at times, however I was surprised at the happiness the children experience when volunteers come to visit and the dedication and compassion of the staff, who go out of their way to help the children secure a better future. It was a pleasure to be part of this process.
We also got the chance to go off the beaten path to visit some children in a countryside orphanage which was quite different to those in the city.
I visited 4 orphanages including: Orphanage for special needs kids, another with deaf children, one for babies with special needs, one near Buda in the countryside near the birthplace of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi (Ukrainian King of Kossacs Land) and HUGE oak tree, well known for being more that 1100 years old.
In the deaf orphanage ’Land of Goodness’, one of the orphans performed a song using Ukrainian Sign Language.
We had the opportunity to tell many groups of orphans about Australia, explain our way of life and animals unique to Australia like: Kangaroos, Koalas, Emus, Cassowaries, Kookaburras and of course Quokka. They were so excited and had so many interesting questions.
I recommend this volunteering programme and local coordination unconditionally.
Sasha Gumprecht, from USA
Sasha: “I love all of them!”
I am absolutely adoring working with these kids and teaching. They understand my Russian perfectly (although often forget and answer me in Ukrainian for extra challenge!). They are so intelligent, loving, gentle and extremely insightful. Yesterday I had a meeting with the chief doctor and director of another very private orphanage. It hosts extremely disadvantaged children with mental illness and disability. It was allowed me to work with the children there, and sponsor some equipment for a special activity room for the autistic children. Today I spent the day with those orphans who suffer from autism and depression. I feel so blessed to be able spend time with these beautiful kids and am having a ball!
Leah, from Australia
Leah from Australia, Perth
Raymond, from Norway
Finally i got my trip to Ukraine.
Travel here was no problem.
Visiting the orphanages was a really strong and good experiences. I liked that i could visit two orphanages and even one school. Fantastic !
Informative and good guiding from you !
I wish i had more time there.
Well, anyway my trip here was really nice!.
Raymond from Norway
I recently took a trip to Ukraine to volunteer in the orphanages and found that there is a lot someone can offer them. If you are a native English speaker be ready to teach English every minute. The kids are anxious and excited to speak what English they know and to learn new words that they can use. Even though I only knew a little Ukrainian myself the kids were great to play with and helped me along the way. I especially liked visiting the baby orphanage where the little ones were playful and happy. I teach preschool in Alaska so I really enjoyed seeing their learning environment. The orphanage for street kids was also a great experience. What a great place for kids that need security and stability in their life. I was impressed by the life skills classes that were taught at some of the other orphanages including cooking, sewing and woodworking. Thanks to coordinator Sasha for arranging a last minute trip for me to visit the Carpathian mountains.
Daniel from Alaska, USA