By Rachel Biddy
Lifeline is blessed to work with two strategic partners in Ukraine who work to keep families together and serve people who are viewed as less valuable in their country. According to UNICEF, there are an estimated 510,000 orphaned and vulnerable children in Ukraine. Children in Ukraine are prone to separation from their families due to poverty and incentives from the government for children to live in government homes.
Slavik and Alyona Puzanov felt the Lord calling them to care for orphans in Ukraine and founded Heritage Ukraine in 2007. Heritage Ukraine exists to shine God’s light in dark places for orphans, at-risk children and families, and children with special needs. They strive to consistently share the gospel and God’s love with children in and around the large, multi-cultural city of Odessa. At the beginning of their ministry, Slavik and Aloyna visited one orphanage per month and held their first summer camp with less than 50 children and 11 volunteers. They now visit 18 orphanages every month, and Camp LELA hosts up to 600 children and over 400 volunteers every summer.
The seeds of faith that were planted through the work of a small ministry have grown into fruition. In 2018, Yuriy and Madison Perekotiy began to partner with Slavik and Alyona in their work with deaf, autistic, and at-risk children. Yuriy is Camp LELA’s pastor, and Madison leads training on trauma and attachment. They emphasize a gospel message that children can take home to their families — they want Ukrainian families to understand the gospel too.
The two families come together as Lifeline’s strategic ministry partners to spread the gospel to vulnerable children and families in Ukraine. Because their ministry is rooted in the gospel, they can share everlasting hope with people in Odessa. Ministry efforts have recently shifted because of the pandemic and now, because of war. Heritage Ukraine continues to minister to those who have been impacted by the pandemic and those displaced by the conflict. Slavik and Aloyna are still providing care for the most vulnerable despite their current hardship.
To partner with Slavik and Alyona and Yuriy and Madison, you can pray for their work in Ukraine. You can also donate to this life-changing work at https://p2p.onecause.com/ukraine.