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The blast from Gainesville Fire Rescue's fire engine provoked shrieks of delight from the group of Ukrainian orphans

Author: Katie Burns, The Gainesville Sun Published: August 1, 2006, 0:00 2478

They might not have understood the language, but the fire horn got their attention.

The blast from Gainesville Fire Rescue's fire engine provoked shrieks of delight from the small group of Ukrainian orphans, who got a tour Wednesday of Fire Station 1 on S. Main Street.

The children toured the firehouse as part of a 21-day visit to the United States as cultural exchange students. Friends of Our Orphanages, a Gainesville-based organization that aids and supports orphanages throughout the former Soviet Union, brought over 11 children from Krivoy Rog, Ukraine; eight stayed with host families in Gainesville while three stayed in Alabama.

During the past few weeks, the children have received a small taste of American life as they toured various locations in Florida, from theme parks to beaches on both coasts. Highlights for 11-year-old Anya Pavliv included the Santa Fe Community College Teaching Zoo and the many swimming pools throughout the state.

"I just really love it. It's so nice," she said through an interpreter. "I'm in love with Busch Gardens, and it's been a great experience. The people here are always smiling and polite."

Friends of Our Orphanages helped raise money for Orphanage 9 in the Ukraine. The money that was used to buy furniture, books, clothing, lamps and games, since the Ukrainian government focuses mostly on education funding. The nonprofit organization relies entirely on donations.

For Carlton Boyd, vice president of the organization, the benefit of the cultural exchange was twofold. Not only does it raise awareness of Ukrainian orphanages, he said, but it gives the children a chance to experience life in a family home.

"It's good to take them from living with 300 people (in the orphanage) and let them be with a mother and a father," Boyd said. "We're only allowed 21 days, but it still helps their self-esteem and self-worth, so they can have goals and aspirations. We want to expand their minds."

The fire station marks one of the last stops for the orphans, who will return to Ukraine on Friday. They'll have a farewell party at Ashley's restaurant, in Butler Plaza, this afternoon.

Zhenya Statov, 13, summed up his American experience in halting English. "(All of) America, I don't know, but Florida I like," he said. "Fishing, beach . . . I like all."


This publication related with such categories:
       Ukraine      Hosting programs for orphans  

Happy Child foundation - effective help to the most needy children of the Zaporozhye region, Ukraine, since 2004

More than 16 years of trust of donors and benefactors, thousands of aid transaction processed every year. Full transparency in the usage of donation
You donated $231 992 in 2020

Our expenses in 2020

135 sick children: $127 468 
Medical equipment: $7 759
To disabled orphans: $25 169
To eco-village for orphans: $12 386
To orphans and poor families: $5 380
To adults ("Helpus" charity): $8 424
Administration and fundraising: $21 761
Total sum of expenses: $216 815 

$4 799 906 donated since 2007

They need help:

Olga Pavlenko, born in 2002, high degree cystic fibrosis

Olga Pavlenko, born in 2002, high degree cystic fibrosis

Mark Bondarev, 5 years old - Cystic fibrosis

Mark Bondarev, 5 years old - Cystic fibrosis

Arthur Kerimov, born in 2011 - symptomatic myoclonic epilepsy

Arthur Kerimov, born in 2011 - symptomatic myoclonic epilepsy

Vladislav Bogomazov, 6 years old - Cystic fibrosis, severe course

Vladislav Bogomazov, 6 years old - Cystic fibrosis, severe course

Natalya Kisluk, born February 28, 1992 - 24 years old - mixed form cystic fibrosis.

Natalya Kisluk, born February 28, 1992 - 24 years old - mixed form cystic fibrosis.


Information for non-Ukrainians wishing to help or adopt an orphan from Ukraine

Information for non-Ukrainians wishing to help or adopt an orphan from Ukraine

A Child Needs a Family: Tatiana M., born in 2005

A Child Needs a Family: Tatiana M., born in 2005

A Child Needs a Family: Makar R., born in 2010

A Child Needs a Family: Makar R., born in 2010