$5,000 Matching Grant for Ukrainian Orphan Care!

Today is Polina’s 7th birthday and that makes it even more exciting for us to announce that Polina’s Promise has received a $5,000 matching grant for a very specific purpose!

In the middle of March, Polina’s Promise was introduced to missionaries working in Ukraine. The hope was that we could somehow assist with orphan care during this transitional and unstable time in Ukraine. Earlier this week, Andrew Kelly of  Jeremiah’s Hope send Polina’s Promise a proposal for a very specific project. We shared the information with some donors and through thoughtful consideration and prayer, they have offered a very generous $5,000 matching grant.

Let me tell you a little about Jeremiah’s Hope. They are located in the Ivankiv region comprised of over 20 villages with more than 600 children listed with social services as living in abusive or neglectful homes or extreme poverty. In fact, they are in the last “county” before the Chernobyl zone and the hopelessness and despair there is indescribable.

Five years ago, the organization broke ground on Pine Branch Christian Camp. How awesome is it that in former Soviet Union country where kids were required to go to camp for 21 days every summer to be indoctrinated in Communist ideals, orphans and at-risk youth can now go to camp and be introduced to Christ! Pine Branch Christian Camp hosts 250 orphans and at-risk youth every summer. They also host spring, fall and winter retreats. In addition, they host a weekly Sunday School for local village children and quarterly medical/dental/optical outreaches that last two days and treat 60-75 patients. Sounds fantastic, right? It gets better!

In 2010,  several dozen children from surrounding villages attended Pine Branch Christian Camp.  These are all children who are being monitored by the Department of Social Services.  The Sasha Project was born  in response to the situation a young boy, Sasha, was found  living in during a follow-up visit to his family’s home. While the Department of Social Services is charged with watching after and providing for these children, they just don’t have the resources to do it. Today, they serve over 80 children living in a home with alcoholism, neglect, abuse, abandonment or abject poverty. Every two weeks, Jeremiah’s Hope staff visit these children, spending 15-30 minutes in each home and make reports to Social Services, as needed. Additionally, they provide families with simple food packages (bread, macaroni, rice, cream of wheat, cooking oil, butter, eggs, cheese, sausages, cabbage, carrots, onions, apples, oranges, juice and milk) to help meet the need of providing for these children. They also provide school supplies and other material needs like blankets and warm clothing for winter.

The most recent project opened in the Fall of 2012 when the local orphanage was shut down due to a lack of government funds. Jeremiah’s Hope was asked by the local government to open a rescue shelter. The facility was build under contract with the local government to house up to 18 children on a temporary basis while both the government and Jeremiah’s Hope works to rehabilitate and reunite families. In unsuccessful cases, children are then placed in Christian foster homes.

Jeremiah’s Hope has grown by leaps and bounds since they broke ground on the camp in 2010. They are a multi-faceted organization that works with orphans and at-risk youth which Polina’s Promise considers to fall into the special needs category. Due to their amazing growth, and recent events in Ukraine, they have a need we want to help them meet.

All of the ministries I wrote about above are run eight individuals. As you can imagine, it is their vision to grow their staff to be able to more effectively serve the children. In order to do that, they must be able to provide housing. There community is in a rural village with no paved roads with approximately 300 people living in homes wehre 80% of the villagers have no running water or indoor kitchens or bathrooms.  With no housing available, they cannot bring on more staff. As it is, two of the current staff are living in cabins and using an unattached shower block. This is also cabin space where 10 additional campers could attend each session.

Recently, Jeremiah’s Hope received a $20,000 matching grant from a Christian foundation to be used to build additional missionary/staff housing and a meeting room. Over the winder, those funds were matched and they plan was to add two small cottages to provide housing to two single staff members and free up a small house currently occupied by a single person for an incoming couple. The meeting room would allow the  ministry a separate building in which to hold Bible classes, Medical/Dental clinics, sort humanitarian aid, etc. rather than trying to do this is in the main dining hall.

Unfortunately due to the current economic situation in Ukraine, the cost of the buildings has increased about 20 cents to every US dollar, leaving the ministry about $7,000 short to complete the purchase and installation of the buildings before summer.

We hope that you will join us in our partnership with Jeremiah’s Hope to provide the need to expand the facility and improve their ministry and outreach to the children of Ukraine.

Don’t hesitate to email us with any questions or concerns you have about this project. We can be reached via email and donations sent via paypal to polinaspromise@yahoo.com

You can also follow our Polina’s Promise Facebook page and Twitter account for updates on the match! It’s always exciting to see how God provides as that ticker moves up!




Help for Orphans in Ukraine

Not everyone is called to adopt. This is an excellent opportunity to answer the mandate of orphan care outside of adoption.

In light of the current situation in Eastern Europe, Polina’s Promise has decided that we’re going to focus all of our efforts to raise awareness of projects affecting Ukraine’s orphans. Our Goal is to raise $5000 by March 31 and $10,000 in monthly recurring donations.
There is a 100 bed Christian camp at the top of the list as a refuge if the opportuniy to evacuate orphans presents itself. However, the transportation comes at an expenses and the funds need to be available when needed as the situation is fluid and rapidly changes. We do not want this opportunity to be missed because of a lack of funding.

That’s why we started this fundraiser on Pure Charity to immediately raise $5000. Every penny of this goes to fund the 100 bed camp. In the event an evacuation is not possible, funds will be retained to help with future costs of the camp. We will provide updates on the progress that shows real results and real lives impacted!

We are asking everyone to donate a one-time donation and to consider a recurring monthly donation. Even if you are not able to donate, please give the opportunity to someone else by promoting this fundraiser on Facebook, Twitter and in your other social circles.

Thanks for taking a moment to read this and thank you for giving. Every bit helps orphans in desperate need.

Click here to visit our Pure Charity fundraiser.





The other side…

Everyone knows every story has two sides. Most of the world is watching a significant event take place as I write this blog. It’s easy to watch and cheer on athletes fulfilling their dreams competing in sports they have dedicated their lives to perfecting. I applaud them for pursuing their dreams and  I want their experience to be more than they dreamed. They’ve earned that.

However, I can’t sit back and watch in good conscience without telling the other side of the story. I can’t do it because I’ve been there and I’ve seen it. I can’t do it because I love a country of people who deserve better. I can’t do it because I hope for a prosperous future for the people of Russia.

Let me explain.

Earlier today, my attention was drawn to a series of three blogs on livejournal.com – an online blog community in Russia. The series showed photos of hospitals – mostly pediatric and maternity – within and across Russia. I truly felt nauseous. I debated sharing, but did not.

Later, I saw a Subway commercial from Sochi.  I think it was called a “fresh view” of Sochi. Basically, it was a tour of the beautiful marina there.

In just a few minutes, the infamous Yevgeny Plushenko will skate. He’s in his fourth Olympics at 31 years old. What an amazing story about a triumphant comeback after knee and spinal implant surgery!

Today, I have seen two sides – the significant and the insignificant. I think it’s safe to assume most have only seen the former. I must share the latter with you. These are just a sampling of the photos I saw today – all taken between 2011-2013 and all in children’s hospitals.

Who’s the cute little girl you might ask? She was taken to one of these hospitals with severe respiratory illness. Her parents begged and arranged for a transfer to another hospital. However, the physicians demanded they could care for the girl. She died in less than 24 hours.

These photos bring me some level of understanding of mothers who are told by doctors that their children are sick and they should “refuse” them. How do you have hope in such a place? How do you survive your child spending much of their life in such a place? I cannot fully understand, but I do have an idea.

I founded Polina’s Promise for humanitarian reasons. I put fierce effort into leaving politics outside the door, so I’m going to stop right here.

Our purpose is to change stigma and bring hope to families and orphans with special needs. So many of them spend time in these places (dare I say if they are “lucky” ones who receive treatment?).

Earlier this week, I invited you to help bring perspective to Western journalists complaining about their hotel rooms by sharing the hashtag phrase #SochiProblems pale in comparison to #orphancrisis. Today, I ask you to bring awareness to the general public. Please continue to use the hashtag phrase and share this blog on Facebook, Twitter, whatever social media you use.

Show people the other side of the story. The special needs children deserve it.



Give the Russian Orphans a voice!

I’m really disturbed over the extent of social media, news coverage, and political involvement over hotel accommodations, bad water, stray dogs and yogurt in comparison to that of the plight of the Russian orphans.

Unless you avoid social media and news all-together, it’s hard to have not heard about the conditions of Sochi media hotels and the genocide of stray dogs. The newest story is about the blockage of Chobani Greek Yogurt to American athletes.

According to an article by Thomas Kaplan published in The New York Times on Feb. 5, “The blockade has prompted protests from yogurt-promoting politicians in New York and in Washington, who express outrage that American athletes could be deprived of a protein-rich food that had been part of their training regimen.”

Kaplan also says that the Obama administration has “intervened.”

New York Senator Charles Schumer is quoted as saying, “There is simply no time to waste in getting our Olympic athletes a nutritious and delicious food.”

Meanwhile, Chicago Tribune journalist Stacy St. Clair has gained notoriety over her tweets regarding the water in her Sochi hotel room. The most disturbing is that she was told “when it comes back on, please do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous.”

While our athletes and journalists have to endure two-weeks in sub-par conditions, 700,000+ Russian orphans are living in worse for their whole lives.

Who is worried about their living conditions, the water they are drinking, and the quality of the food they are eating? Where are the senators speaking out about that? How has the Obama administration intervened? When is Bob Costas going to talk about the orphans in his Olympic coverage?

How do the orphans get forgotten in the Russian Human Rights conversation?

Are you going to be the voice that speaks out for the voiceless?

#sociproblems pale in comparison to #orphancrisis

Spread it!

A sad anniversary

On the one-year anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin signing the “Dima Yakovlev Law” (aka Anti-Magnitsky Law, American Adoption Bad), I find myself as heartbroken as I was one year ago when I wrote “Death Would Be Better.”

Sure, my daughter came home, but there were many who did not. I can not help but mourn for the children who remain in orphanages, and their families that just celebrated Christmas without them. Some of those “left behind” have been placed back in their biological families (concerning as they were once removed or abandoned) or are now with foster/adoptive families in Russia. A couple have passed from their life on this Earth, unable to get the medical care they would have received had their American parents been able to continue with their adoption.

At this time last year, I had hope that the law would be amended to allow the adoption of special needs orphans, but it was not.

At this time last year, only adoption from the US had been banned. Now, the bans are expanding and the only country Russia is officially accepting referrals from is Italy according to RT.

The chances of adoption for Russian orphans with special needs continues to decline with more closures.

Last year at this time, the story was all over international news. Below are links of some of the stories that included our family alone between Dec. 27-31st.

Today, the world is quiet about the law. Most have moved on. Here at Polina’s Promise, we vow not to forget the orphans and families stuck in the ban. We will keep their memory and their hope alive while taking training and aid to the special needs orphans, families, volunteers, medical professionals and orphanage workers in Russia. We will continue to push towards education of the community and a paradigm shift within Russia so that these children will no longer be considered “invalids” but people with immense value waiting to be revealed. For now, they are stuck, many in places such as the one Katie Brooks documented in photographs. Go on, take a look.

We thank you for your support. Rather it be through prayer, financial donation or education through sharing about our organization, you are helping us make a difference for those that are unable to help themselves.

~Kendra Skaggs

Polina’s Mom

Founder of Polina’s Promise

ABC World News Tonight

Good Morning America

CNN Early Start

Wall Street Journal


Associated Press

Daily Mail (UK)

The Telegraph (UK)

KABC Los Angeles

WLS TV, Chicago



Hi, Welcome to the Polina’s Promise website. This blog post is being written in early November 2013 as I, the volunteer admin, start creating what hopefully will be a good communication vehicle for anyone interested in the mission of Polina’s Promise. Stay tuned for more changes and blog posts written by Kendra Skaggs. Guess I best go create a userid for her to login with!