Frequently asked questions
(last update - January 19, 2011)
- to improve the lives of the orphans and sick children warehoused in state children’s homes;
- to help as many orphans as possible to find a family;
- to attract interested people, to keep in touch with the orphans, to further the creation of study groups in the orphanages, and to organize hikes and excursions;
- to give accurate information about tutoring, trusteeship, adoption, the creation of foster families, and family-oriented orphanages;
- to give visitors access to articles, books, and other information about the life of the orphans in Russia, Ukraine and former Soviet Union countries.
Russian word 'deti' translates as 'children' in English. The domain name ".zp.ua" means Zaporozhye region of Ukraine.
We can divide children’s needs into two categories: 1) the needs of sick and disabled children (cancer, cardiac disease, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, other disabilities); 2) the needs of children living in state institutions and children from poor or large families.
Emotionally, the main problem of “orphans” is lack of love, attention, and family warmth. The internat, or orphanage, system in Ukraine receives more financial support from the government now, so basic nutritional needs, as well as those for clothing, shoes, and shelter are usually satisfied.
But the old, Soviet-era orphanage system can’t help orphans receive a good education and prepare them for life after they leave orphanage at eighteen. As result, many former orphans become criminals or prostitutes, lead an asocial way of life, commit suicide, or are unable to start a family and raise their own children. As a consequence, the children of children who grow up in an internat often become orphans as well, creating a self-perpetuating cycle.
As a result, for that group of orphans without major physical or mental disabilities, Happy Child programs are directed mainly to the children’s mental, spiritual, and educational development. We have a program to encourage family care and adoption within Ukraine. We have an education program where we teach orphans computer science and drawing. We have a big excursion- and camping-trips program (200 orphans and 200 children from poor families visited Crimean mountains and big Ukrainian cities in this program in 2010). We plan to create a “Children’s Village” were foster families will raise foster kids (including special-needs children) and biological children in a calm, friendly, creative atmosphere, supporting each other and living with harmony with nature.
The healthcare system in Ukraine is quite different from those in Western countries. Theoretically, medical treatment is free of charge and available to everyone, but because of inadequate state financing of hospitals (a result of poor economic conditions nationally), many patients cannot receive needed medical help, unless they can pay extra.
To meet the urgent medical needs of sick children, we offer various kinds of help:
1. We provide urgent help to children who have cancer, heart disorders, and other life-threatening sicknesses (we help pay for medicines and expensive medical exams and treatment, sometimes abroad).
2. We purchase and donate important medical equipment for children’s hospitals of the Zaporozhye region.
3. We improve living and working conditions in hospitals by purchasing refrigerators, furniture, computers, etc.
4. We give happy moments to extremely sick children by organizing fun parties and concerts in the hospitals.
Although considered educable, many of the children in internats run by the Ministry of Education have developmental delays. That doesn't mean that a child is mentally retarded, but that he\she has difficulty in school, has a poor grasp of time, doesn't know the names of the months and weeks, etc. The growth and development of these children is usually slower than with ordinary children. All of this is a consequence of their lives prior to entering the orphanage, but the atmosphere in the orphanage doesn't promote children's development either. Some children did not start school until they were ten years old or later, have difficulty expressing their thoughts, and can't read very well. Many children come from subsistence-living in rural villages. Some have spent their entire lives in orphanages; others just a few months. Some children witnessed murders of family members. In one case, a child was thrown out a window by its own mother. Some children have never traveled by train and have never eaten shashlik. They can't go for bike rides or swim. Many run away from orphanages because they prefer a vagrant life. All of the children in the internats are starved for attention and affection; they really love visitors; they run and hug people they don't even know. The children also like hikes and traveling. They ask many questions about the surrounding world. You can read comments of the children on the page “Our Children.”
Then there are the children with special needs—cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, severe cognitive disorder, other congenital issues, HIV—in internats run by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. For the most part, these children are considered uneducable. As a result, they receive no education, minimal health care, and little, if any physical therapy. Many die before age eighteen.
Just about 10%. Other orphans have living parents but were legally removed from the home because parents were often alcoholic, or went to prison, or they abandoned their child and fled. These children are called “social orphans.”
Because these children lack proper education, caring parents and relatives, and receive little preparation for independent living, many of them, after leaving the internat, become drug addicts, criminals, or prostitutes. One day, you may be mugged by one of them. Our indifference creates future problems for the entire nation. Secondly, many orphans are gifted. With a good education and encouragement, they could grow up to be scientists, writers, composers, or artists. We have a number of examples. You are encouraged to read the books of Alexander Gezalov or Ruben Galiego in the section "Books and Articles.” Thirdly, if we truly believe that each human life is precious in God’s eyes and take seriously the commandment to love our neighbors, the question "Why should we help?" has an obvious answer. Fourthly, helping our neighbors, especially the little ones, gives both them and us extraordinary joy. Their chances in life are improved; our lives are fulfilled.
From 2003-2006 the Happy Child volunteers worked without pay. The increasing number of donations and projects in 2006, however, demanded fulltime helpers. Now we have four fulltime employees. For the most part their salaries come from donations given specifically for our salaries. We work in a two-room office in Zaporozhye, a flat leased to us by a donor for free. Most office equipment is also donated. Our administrative expenses usually amount to 5-7% of total income. If we receive a restricted gift, we use it entirely for the purpose requested by the donor. Office needs are met only through unrestricted donations or gifts made exclusively for that purpose.
No, we don't. We often receive requests for help from foreigners, but we have our own mission. Moreover, international adoption involves paying bribes to officials. We have neither time nor desire to become involved in this sort of activity. If the adoption process for non-Ukrainians becomes clearer and more honest, however, we might be interested in that question. As you may know, adoption of a child from Ukraine costs anywhere from US $10,000 to $35,000. Officially, the adoption process is free of charge, but the services of mediators, bribes to officials, and other expenses add up to the aforementioned sum. It is a pity that only a small portion of this money benefits the children living in the orphanages.
Our six years of successful operation as a registered non-profit charity is proof that we are real organization that produces real results, all of which continue to be documented on our website, www.deti.zp.ua. The donations we receive and the funds we spend are regularly posted, as well. Through its website Happy Child maintains a high degree of transparency and accountability. Ukrainian newspapers often publish articles about our activities. On our Facebook group you may read the stories of visitors from USA and Canada who visited us personally. We have also posted the stories of our website creators, who despite their own health issues, choose to help others. Those who created and support this website believe in God.
You may personally visit any of the orphanages or children's houses to help a child. In doing so, you are not obliged to reveal that you found out about the orphanage from our website. For any charitable help you provide, you can receive a validated receipt. If you live in another city or country, you may send a package to the address of the orphanage (internat) or, alternatively, to the address of creator of this website. The contact information is on the web page "How we can be found." A picture will be taken of your donations together with the children who received the gifts and will be posted on the website. You or a person you trust may visit an orphanage at any time to make sure your donations and gifts are being used appropriately.
If you live in the USA, you may use the following companies for the delivery to Ukraine:
If you live in Canada then you can use Meest Canada. The cost is US$10 for a package up to 70 pounds and $0.69 for each additional pound. The time of delivery is 4-6 weeks. Please try to state the value of your items and the shipping costs.
Of course, you may. If you live elsewhere, you may simply order something online and have it sent to any orphanage in Ukraine. That way you won't have to worry about shipping.
Please, see how to transfer money to us if you want to donate money for orphans' needs.
Get to know the children and the administration and you'll see what the children need most of all. It may sound strange, but it's best to visit one of the orphanages or hospitals. The next best way, if you cannot travel to Ukraine, is to read the stories we post on the website about the children.
Happy Child Q & A
We are not an adoption agency and cannot serve as the middleperson in an adoption process.
You may wish to consult the Adoption page on our website.
Absolutely. If you live in Zaporozhye and you have some interesting skills (for example, woodworking, modeling, needlework, making toys) you can guide a study group in an orphanage. You may teach children to ride a bicycle, make repairs to an apartment, computer operation, word processing, web design, etc.
You can assist in the organization of summer tent camps in Crimea for the children.
If you are foreigner and live abroad – you can help to us to find mistakes in our English articles, or edit articles. You can organize fundraising for orphans or sick children in your town/city.
You may also tell your friends or the head of your organization about our website and our children. You can publish our banner or link to our website on your website or Facebook page. Finally, you may join our organization and provide ongoing support for our children.
We are eager to answer any questions you may have.