When Community Becomes Family: Nastya's Story

By Elise Derstine | September 26, 2018 | Europe & Eurasia | Youth Empowerment

Nastya* tells her story in her own words—from growing up in an orphanage to becoming a young leader at Orphan’s Future, a GFC grassroots partner in Ukraine.

Orphan’s Future / Ternopil, Ukraine

“My name is Nastya. I’m 26 years old and I was born in the west of Ukraine in a small village. As a young girl, I lived at home with my parents and my older sister and brother. My father drank a lot, and he often beat us, our whole family.

It was a terrible time for me. It’s painful to remember. When I was six years old, my mom decided to send us to an orphanage so that she wouldn’t have to worry about us or our health.

I lived in the orphanage for 11 years. Growing up there was hard; I wanted to live at home, and I missed my mom very much. But I got used to it—I became strong and understood that I must move forward and help myself.

Today, I still do everything myself—I make my own decisions and build my own life, though sometimes I wish I had someone to do it for me.

When I graduated from high school, I entered university to study psychology. My second year, I began volunteering at Orphan’s Future.

I wanted to help other orphaned children because I know who they are and how they feel.

Today, I’m on the organization’s board; I work as a psychologist and help coordinate programs there. I help young people believe in themselves and in their strengths; I support them in making important decisions. I mentor them, conduct trainings, and arrange field trips and activities for them, and I help them find volunteering opportunities to engage with their communities.

Our work has influenced the public in our region and has changed their ideas about orphans and about orphanages. Young people learn to successfully adapt to independent life, and they say they are not lonely. Through our programs many children found new families and new friends.

Orphaned children need our care and support—with Orphan’s Future, they can overcome life’s obstacles. My dream for myself is to have a happy and healthy family. I want to live my life so that there is something to remember.

My advice to other young people would be this: always set yourself a goal and go to it, applying the effort, and there will be changes in your life. We must care for and support each other, and always show respect. Remember that you need to connect with people, to be in touch with them, to be human.”

*Nastya’s name has been changed to protect her privacy; images have also been selected to protect the privacy of the individuals.

Nastya’s story is part of Global Fund for Children’s Role Model Series featuring inspiring youth who are standing up for children’s rights around the world.

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Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.

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