Ripples of impact felt at UOO Carnival
By May Soricelli
“What is a hero? A hero is someone who saves someone’s life. I thank you all; you are my heroes,” said Oksana Arthur-Paul at the recent Ukraine Orphan Outreach (UOO) Carnival this past weekend.
Beyond the playful fun and games of the UOO Carnival, attendees also experienced riveting encounters with individuals who traveled across the world just to share their first-hand experience with Ukrainian orphans. The evening of entertainment, as well as the speakers, sought to fulfill one mission: to address the “elephant in the room.” The “elephant in the room” was a large cutout shape of an elephant that, upon it was displayed the images, names and ages of the orphans who need sponsorship in the UOO transition homes. Many guests attended the event, several of whom answered the call to commit to monthly sponsorship or one-time donations. In order to fully sponsor their 12 transitions home children, UOO needed 48 $35 monthly commitments. The UOO team rejoiced over 40 sponsorships that were made as a result of the Carnival. This leaves only eight sponsorship spots to fill. For those who are interested in meeting that need they can visit www.ukraineorphans.org to donate or sponsor.
One Ukrainian couple spoke on the need to support these orphaned children, as well as displaced families due to the conflict in Ukraine. Pasha Gorbunova, director of seminary in Kiev, said “If you’re asking how you can help, you can support people, you can pray for people. These challenges open great opportunity. You can bring hope to people who’ve lost everything.” His wife Oksana, of the Christian Broadcast Network, spoke to her experience working with the UOO boys’ transition home “These are real boys, they are real people, they just went through the war.” She went on to say, “That sponsorship, that relationship, is lifesaving for them.”
Arthur-Paul, having grown up in the UOO transition home for girls, shared a compelling testimony of how the organization forever changed her life. “Have you ever sponsored a Ukrainian orphan of supported Ukraine Orphan Outreach? If so, you are my hero,” said Arthur-Paul. She detailed the life she had before coming to an orphanage; her family was involved in witchcraft and were alcoholics. When she lost her parents she said, “There was nobody for me. It broke my heart. I was lost.” Life in an orphanage was shrouded in darkness for Arthur-Paul, “In the orphanage you just need to survive, all the kids have holes in their hearts.” When she was offered a place in a transition home, she was fearful and thought, “There are no good people. All people want something from me. They must want something from me.” She remembers how her mind was changed, and she listened to her house “mom” pray for her every night. “I thought, who am I that she would pray for me?” said Arthur-Paul. When she was grown she moved to India to finish school and married. She is now doing missionary work alongside her husband and children in India. “I’m the fruit of your ministry,” she said. “Maybe tomorrow the orphan will become a bright star who will help others.”
Clarke and Kris Stoesz, UOO founders, concluded the event by sharing their hopes for the future growth of the organization. They hope to open their third transition home as funding becomes available, as well as provide a refugee family a place to call home. “We’re growing, and God has blessed our ministry,” said Kris. “It’s in doing these things that the world changes and we make a difference.” Clarke said.
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