Kiev, Ukraine 2007
My first trip out of the country was amazing. My heart came alive in a special way when I traveled to the Ukraine in 2007. I had a desire for years before to go and spend some time with the kids in the orphanages and on the streets there. So many of the children in Kiev and the outlining towns choose to live on the streets and in the gutters rather than in their own homes because of the alcoholism of so many of their parents. I was able to spend some time with kids anywhere from 8-16 years old who had lived or presently lived on the streets for years. There are a few local organizations that have homes to help the kids that want to get off the streets and into a safe place to grow and learn. Some friends and I got to visit one of these places and spend some time with the kids. All the boys who heard we were coming wanted nothing more than to play a match of soccer against the Americans. Yeah, we got our butts whipped, bad. We were lucky to even kick the ball in the direction of the goal. It was a blast. My heart was broken but came alive in a way as I spent the rest of that evening bringing a little bit of supper to a group of kids who lived on the street. Their eyes were so hungry for love, but totally guarded. I want to go back. The country was beautiful especially at sunrise. It was sad in parts but beautiful.
Being my first trip out of the states it was pretty eventful for me. To start it all off the day we arrived a mini revolution started with hundreds of protesters in the streets right outside the airport. My stomach had a little bit of familiar culture shock too. Never in my life had a seen potatoes cooked so many ways. Everywhere I looked was a fast food spot that featured potatoes. I didn't want to see a potato for the rest of my life after that. haha It was always cloudy while we were there, (it was winter) so even though it was kinda dreary-when ever i would see color, it stood out more vibrantly than it might have before. The people are so beautiful there. Their culture, their traditions and their textures are intriguing.
I thought this little girl was 7 years old but she was 12. She had suffered from malnutrition.
I got to go to an orphanage when we first arrived. I was SO jet-lagged but so in heaven.
We also visited the Jewish center where we met and got to hear the stories of severalHolocaust survivors. It was life changing. The sweet woman in the picture below was telling me her story through an interpreter. The man in the pic after that burst into tears when he saw me. I almost never wear my hair down, but that day I did. He told me the very first time he had seen his wife he had fallen in love with her because of her hair, just like mine. She had passed away and seeing me reminded him of her. It was such a sweet moment.
Dr. Borris is a leader in the Jewish community in the Ukraine and is a scientist and professor. He became my good friend on that trip. I miss him a lot. He spent time with me and my friends, teaching us life lessons and teaching me and my best friend Ukrainian. It was a magical time.
My friends and I labeled this guy as the Kiev Cowboy. There he was, in the middle of the city with all the cars and big buildings he was on a horse smoking a cigarette. haha
They had cool cars too.