Ukraine is facing an economic crisis, and will possibly be without HEAT this winter due to the Civil War and the conflict with Russia. Many people support poverty-stricken children throughout the world via programs like World Vision. I hope to be able to do something similar for a specific Ukrainian family this winter: Ksenia, Kristina and Karina (single mother with twins).
Ksenia, with Karina and Kristina
In December 2013, I visited Ukraine. I was interested in the revolution and the plight of the people standing against a corrupt political regime. I had previously met a few citizens of Ukraine and Russia online on a website called BUSUU.COM - a language learning website where people correct posted assignments by learners of their native language and have the opportunity to interact with those learners. I had begun my journey to learn Russian. I had met some especially wonderful Ukrainian citizens on the site and when I visited I fell in love with the country instantly. I visited Kharkiv and Kirovograd. Over an 8 day period while in the city of Kirovograd, I met one of my online friends, a single mother (and some of her friends and family members), and have stayed in touch via Skype, talking to them almost daily.
In the months since my visit, the tensions in the country have risen significantly and the economy and government support has basically crashed. This single mother, Ksenia, along with her 5 year old twin girls, have met with increasingly hard times. The government stopped paying her child benefits recently, as the Hryvnia (national currency) has been devalued. I have helped a little financially when I can but I am also not in the financial position to do enough. Currently, Ksenia is unable to find work and/or reliable childcare for her precious girls, like many in Ukraine. She is just scraping by, sometimes going without electricity and having very little food. Her cousin, Ilya, described Ksenia to me as a person who is like "Mother Theresa", taking care of her entire family without asking for anything in return. She is stubborn and will not often take help. In the current state of Ukraine, the fact that she is willing now to let me help says a lot.
This situation is weighing heavy on me now, as the months turn cooler and will eventually turn to the cold of winter. There is a very real possibility that the conflict between Ukraine, EU/America and Russia will mean no gas supply for Ukraine, which in north and central regions will mean a very cold winter and perhaps frozen pipes and no heat for millions of citizens.
My goal is to help Ksenia, Karina and Kristina in one of two ways:
1) I am currently helping her to apply for a temporary visitor visa to Canada, along with the girls, for as soon as possible. They would stay for 6 months at my home on a kind of "cultural exchange" - I've been there, now they would come here. The temporary visa would allow her to provide her girls with a warm home this winter, while giving them the opportunity to work on their English and see a part of the world they might otherwise never see. Hopefully by the time they return home in Spring, the military and economic tensions will have eased. Ksenia currently owns her apartment with her 16 year old brother Vladimir, and he would keep the place running throughout the winter.
2) If the temporary visa is not approved by the Canadian government for some reason, then all the money raised would help Ksenia to provide adequate food and extra warm clothes and blankets for herself and the girls to get through the winter and would help her to pay her HEATING bill, should Ukraine receive gas from Russia or another source.
$5000 dollars is the anticipated amount needed based on the following:
1) Canadian Temporary Visitor Visa Application Fees = $300 ($100 each)
2) Transportation fees to the Airport in Kiev (for the family) = Approx. $60
3) Three return flights (for the family) from Kiev to Toronto (based on Flight Network search Sept 30 2014 to Mar 30 2015) = Approx. $3030
4) Return flight for me to meet them in Kiev and fly back with them to Canada, to help with the transition, especially coming through security and customs in Toronto. None of them have flown before, either = Approx. $1100
5) Additional travel expenses and document fees unforseen (for the family) = $500
Your support in this endeavor would be greatly appreciated, especially by two beautiful 5 year olds who have no idea what they may be in for this winter! Thank you!