Useful to God, Helpful to People: Simple Dreams of a Ukrainian Orphan

If you attended LifePoint services a few weeks ago, you might recall a guest appearance from Orphan Outreach Co-Founder and President Mike Douris and Co-Founder and Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Amy Norton. Mike and Amy brought with them a young employee of the Alpha Life program, Zhenya Yampolska, to speak about the impact that the organization is making with the aging out orphans in Ukraine.

If you had asked me before this service what I might have in common with a Ukrainian orphan, I don’t know that I could have answered you. But as Zhenya spoke, more and more of what she said about Oleg, 23, resonated with me.Oleg’s mother passed away and he never had a close relationship with his father.

My mother is mentally ill and we are estranged. My father has never been involved with my life.

When Oleg graduated from the orphanage system, he needed medical care, a reliable means of transportation, and a sense of purpose for his life.

When I graduated from college, moving back home wasn’t an option. I felt completely on my own without parental guidance to help me find an apartment, a career, and to handle the overwhelming tasks of suddenly being an independent adult.

During a season of graduation celebrations and weddings, first time home buyers and baby announcements, I’m reminded of how the transition into adulthood is something we all experience, but not everyone has a family to offer a safety net as they do.

Fortunately, for both Oleg and myself, God assisted us through this transition by putting people into our lives who became our family. For Oleg, this was Alpha Life.

Alpha Life provides a safety net for the many orphan graduates who have no idea how to live independently. Based in Dnipro, Ukraine, the program provides loving Christian staff which include case workers, a psychologist, an attorney and other caring team members who help meet these young people’s needs and support them through their daily life challenges. They meet with graduates one-on-one and have group meetings. In the group meetings they discuss many life topics that we all experience – relationships, finances, and more. Pastors are also invited to group meetings to have Bible studies. The group will go on outings together for fun and connections as well as meeting up to play sports together. The program also helps provide for the graduates legal and medical needs.

Orphan graduates have a high risk of falling into criminal activity, sex trafficking, addiction, and depression so the Alpha Life team begins working with these young adults before they leave the orphanage to develop relationships with them and encourage them to enter the program. Presently there are 31 students in the program.

Oleg aged out of the orphanage program in 2015 and discovered Alpha Life some months later. Particularly during the past year of quarantine, he was so grateful for the way that the program “united [him] with other teenagers from the orphanages so that [they] can fellowship and share [their] lives with each other.” With public transportation limited during covid, Oleg says that the program allowed these teens to get “to any place in Dnipro” a huge blessing for those needing medical care. (With the support of LifePoint Church, Alpha Life was able to purchase a van shell in 2013 and had passenger seats put in order to transport members to events, activities, and church.)

When Oleg first came to Alpha Life in 2017, he describes himself as a “completely different person” than he is today. This is due in large part to understanding that he is not alone. Having people to help him when he needs it has changed his “morals and spiritual values.” He was baptized soon after joining the program, and loves studying God’s word. Zhenya and the Alpha Life staff have loved seeing how God is transforming Oleg’s life. They’ve helped him acquire an apartment using government funding and get the medical attention he needs.

Mostly, they have helped him achieve his simple dream, another thing that Oleg and I share: to be useful to God and helpful to other people.

LifePoint partners with Alpha Life through Orphan Outreach as part of our Global Outreach. The Global Outreach team is excited to be providing GO Bags from each of the countries that LifePoint partners with, containing items that bring a piece of the partnership here to LifePoint. The Rwanda/Ukraine GO Bags are currently available for pick up in the church lobby, including more information on Orphan Outreach and a keepsake pysanka egg.  The GO Bags also include a discount code for use in the Orphan Outreach Marketplace, which you can shop here. 100% of all Marketplace profits benefit the ministries of Orphan Outreach. 

For more information on the GO Bags click here OR text LPGO to 97000 to have one sent to you!

And for more information on how you can sponsor an orphan graduate like Oleg, click here.

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