This girl on the left is Olya. She was ten or eleven in that picture.
The image below is her at thirteen.
That’s when she left the shelter called The Way Home where she was staying in Odessa, Ukraine and disappeared along with another girl and a boy. That was 2007. A month passed, then I remember an all night train ride to a city called Vinnytsia and an early morning bus ride to remote village half an hour away. The sun had still not come up when we found her in a cabin with less room inside than your normal living room. The kids came back with us.
This third picture is her today, eight years later.
The train to Vinnetsia was a remarkable moment in my ten years of directing the work of This Child Here in Ukraine. Seeing this photo reminded me how the right kind of love and attention can help youth and children grow with grace into adulthood. Without the effort we put forth, you might be looking at a very different face.
Olya’s face is so hopeful and full of joy.
If you want the full story, it’s an 8 min read, click on Train To Vinnytsia on Medium.com.