Sarah Kirby, England
Web designer of first site WWW.UKR.CK.UA for Ukrainian Humanitarian Initiative
I have wanted to take a trip like this for many years, so it’s a dream come true to be in Ukraine. The children have been so welcoming and clearly very excited to have foreign visitors. I wish I could have stayed longer, to visit more orphanages and work with more kids. The host, Zena, has been perfect – we could not have asked for a better home-stay. It’s 5–Stars! I would love to be able to make regular trips to Ukraine to help as much as I can and would not hesitate to use UHI again. Hopefully one day I will adopt from here. It’s a beautiful way to grow a family and Ukraine has so many beautiful children. I have enjoyed spending time in this wonderful country. Thank you for everything!
Sarah Kirby, Petersborough UK
Glenn Smith, New Zealand
I arrived in Ukraine for three months of volunteering at the start of summer. I was impressed with the organising and care coordinator Alex at UHI showed in accommodating my very late arrival and taking me to my homestay at 3 o’clock in the morning. I stayed three months in Cherkasy and loved the small city and relaxed atmosphere. Everything is either in walking distance or there are many buses darting in and around the city. There is a nice river and park and beaches by the river so spare time was filled with places to go and explore. Several times I visited Alex’s summer cottage with his lovely wife Lidia and they made me feel most welcome. I would recommend UHI to anyone who has a genuine interest in helping those less fortunate, or who would just like to spend time in a less than touristy country on a different sort of adventure. You will need patience and a go with the flow attitude as plans can change and Alex will decide where you go and when. The kids are lovely and very well behaved. All in all it was a great time with many memories and a chance to give some children attention who may not get too much usually. Also, an added and unexpected bonus was the connections made with the four other volunteers who were there at various times over the three months. Being all together and at the same time independent added great value to my trip. Towards the end of my trip when the children were heading back to school Alex invited me to go with him and his son to Crimea for 5 days sightseeing and holiday. It was a great chance to see another part of Ukraine that not many other volunteers ever get to unless they go on their own. I enjoyed the sun and seeing some beautiful scenery that matched what we have in my own country New Zealand. It was very nice to be by the ocean and see the deep blue sea after being many weeks in the city. I had been to Ukraine two years previously but had only seen Kiev on that trip. When I left I felt that one day I might be back and so UHI provided everything to make the trip back quite easy and fun.
40, Palmerston North , New Zealand
Cassie Screen, England
Where to start…! I cannot begin to express the wonderful fulfilling feeling I have, having returned from my six week volunteering Ukrainian adventure! And an adventure it has been at that! I look back over my six weeks and feel so privileged to have seen and done so many things in only the short while I and my sister were there. I owe this and a huge thanks to Alex, our local volunteer co-ordinator, for his unlimited knowledge, expertise and welcoming face that never faulted in making our Ukrainian experience always that extra bit more special! We visited several orphanages in the Cherkasy district and ended our trip with a week stint living with children who had physical and mental health problems just on the outskirts of the Chigirin district. From day one, both me and my sister were accepted as one of the ‘family’ and I very quickly grew in love with every unique individual child that welcomed and embraced us with open arms! It was incredibly difficult to have to leave and very tearful, but I have that feeling that we will be back someday! For me, there is no better a feeling than knowing that you have made a positive difference to someone’s day, however small that difference may be. I will cherish the memories of the smiles from all the children’s faces we come to love and the laughter we shared and very much hope to keep in contact and revisit again in the future! I truly recommend any person to pursue such an adventure for it would be one of the most rewarding experiences of their life, I’m sure!
21, Gloucestershire, England
Rosie Screen, England
Through UHI and our fantastic and inspirational local coordinator Alex, I and my sister Cassie, (known as Roza and Kasia by the children, makes me laugh every time when i picture them saying it), had an absolutely fantastic life rewarding 6 weeks experience in Ukraine. I experienced the delights of being welcomed and accepted by all of the truly amazing children at several summer camps within the Cherkasy region on the centre of Ukraine. As well as having the opportunity to visit a baby orphanage and a summer camp just on the outskirts of the Chigirin district, for children who had physical and mental health problems. All the children at each summer camp from the minute I and my sister arrived welcomed us with open arms. Me and Cas had been lucky enough to get some donations from my work colleagues at “Marks & Spencer” and other willing friends and family members. With the donations, we bought several sports items such as, volley balls, footballs, frisbee’s, as well as making bracelets and handing out donated gifts back from home, those being children’s musical instruments and several children’s books. They were so grateful for any little gifts, one gift in particular being we had photo’s printed for nearly every child, that photo being them with me and Cas. The smile’s on there faces is still a clear and happy memory in my head and always will be. I will definitely go back as soon as I can, I wish I could have stayed longer. I will continue to stay in contact with many of the children at several camps/orphanages and i hope to keep donating. I would recommend this unforgettable life experience to anyone, what could be more rewarding then simply loving a child, making them happy, being able to see that you put that big smile on there face, it proved that the littlest of things can make a big difference.
20, Gloucestershire - Forest of Dean, England
Sofie Williams, Australia
I have done some community volunteer work at home in Australia but have wanted for a long time to work with disadvantaged children. To me seeing children in need is the most distressing and heart wrenching thing, so doing something to help even in a small way has been a goal of mine. I am originally from Ukraine but have been away from here for 32 years. When I found Ukrainian Humanitarian Initiative organization I thought it would be great to do both: visit the country of my childhood and work with disadvantaged kids there. I was fortunate enough to realize this goal and work in Chigirin and Cherkasy regions for 2 weeks at various orphanages and children’s homes, I found this experience to be quiet unique and enriching in many different ways. Kids are great! They are so fascinated and interested in a visitor from a far away land. Curious about everything and very affectionate. They are so grateful for any little gifts and insisted on giving me lollies and biscuits from their meals at orphanages. Sometimes they even asked for my autograph, that was definitely a first for me! It was so hard to say good bye… Another fantastic aspect of this experience was staying with a host family. There is no better way to experience a culture of a country than through living with the real locals, eating their food, using public transport, joining their family celebrations. It also helps when your hosts have hearts of gold and their only aim is to make sure you are OK. Thanks for everything Alex and Zina! I will definitely be back as soon as I can and highly recommend this experience to anyone who has an open heart and an open mind.
48, Sydney, Australia
Kevin Zakorchemny, USA
During this current trip, I travel for 9 months around the world and visit many countries along the way. Back in February I spent one month volunteering in Lima, Peru working with orphans and special needs children. Afterwards, I found myself looking for another opportunity to volunteer. I decided to visit the country along the way. I found Ukrainian Humanitarian Initiative and it seemed like it would be the perfect fit for me to spend some time with orphan children in Ukraine. I was able to spend the last two weeks of August volunteering and I was placed at a children’s summer camp. A lot of the orphan children from the area spend a few weeks in the summer months at the camp and from the minute I arrived at the camp the children welcomed me with open arms. There were over 200 children at the camp and I kept them busy playing futbol and volleyball, making bracelets, playing guitar for them, and showing them pictures and money from the countries I have visited. Also, many of the children spoke basic English and they liked to practice by asking me all kinds of questions. I can’t say enough good things about how friendly and loving the children were. Of course the focus of my stay was all about working with the kids, but outside of working at the camp I stayed with a lovely local host family who cooked breakfast and dinner for me each day. Also, through my UHI coordinator I was introduced to a few local people and they helped me to really experience Ukrainian food, culture, and music firsthand. Overall, it was a great experience for me. I loved my time in Ukraine and hope to visit again next summer and work with more of the children!!
27, Philadelphia, USA
James & Hannah Sauvey, England
Through UHI and local coordinator I and my daughter Hannah had an amazing insight to the resilience of the street children, experienced the delights of the baby orphanage and were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the children at summer camp.
Many, many thanks for our time in the Ukraine, we haven’t stopped talking about it, and I’m sure we’ll never forget our Ukrainian Humanitarian Initiative experience, or the delightful children that we had the privilege to meet and where we have learnt a lot from them. The host at our homestay was very helpful and provided a warm comfortable atmosphere. We were treated to home cooking in Ukrainian style. We look forward to coming back as soon as possible.