People change people.
Not stuff, not giveaways.
Education changes people but there's always that teacher.
Faith changes people but who was it that led you to faith?
When I first moved to Odessa, Ukraine, I crawled under abandoned buildings and stepped down ladders under manhole covers into the sewer systems to find street kids. I wanted them to leave the streets come to the shelter. They knew it, but rarely did.
We learned that street kids came from orphanages. That's when we started sending teams of three to work in orphanages to help kids build trust and supportive community.
We did this also in public schools with kids at risk to go to the streets. We sent people to change people.
The government of Ukraine must have decided that people change people when they announced they would close all orphanages and move kids to foster care. Soon we had classrooms with foster parents. Now every foster family in the city of Odessa is trained by us. We teach them to be people who change people.
And all was well until there came a war, a revolution and then a war between Ukraine and Russia.
That's when we started doing things that make for peace. We have a Peace Camp for refugees by the sea during in the summers.
Families come, parents and children. We teach teenagers how to manage conflict.
It's quiet now on the eastern front;they have a cease-fire. Nothing moves.
But I will tell you what is happening and it is not good: resentment, distrust, and animosity between pro-Russians and pro-Ukrainians living in Ukraine. Neighbors are divided; families are divided.
We are working to train people who will change people.
It has been over eleven years since I first moved to Ukraine. Those who have supported This Child Here have touched the lives, changed the lives of many, many people, not just hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of youth and children we have worked with, but the lives also of those who work with those youth and children.
We have great people working for This Child Here. Government agencies want us. Faith based programs want us. The people that work for This Child Here are the best and the brightest. They are smart, committed and caring. They work out of love for what they do.
That gratitude I see in their eyes when I am working with them... to be able to do what they love and get paid for it.... I am passing that on to you.