Igor was old for his class. He used to sit in the back row, a head taller than all the rest, in my after-school English class at a local orphanage in Zaporozhye, Ukraine. He was 12 and in third grade. That was in 2009 when I first moved here.
Igor was born in Kazakhstan in 1996. He lived with his two younger brothers, parents and his father’s mother in the village until his grandmother passed away, then they moved to Omsk, Russia. Igor didn’t go to school. He spent his time trying to make money cleaning buses and begging on the street so he could buy something to eat for himself and his brothers. His parents soon became alcoholics and Igor remembers his father beating his mother and he remembers both of them beating him and his brothers. His father soon got fired from his job and would feed his young boys with food from the dumpsters.
The neighbors noticed what was happening to the boys and called the police one day. Soon after, they came and took the three boys to the orphanage. From there they were deported from Russia to a shelter in Kyiv, Ukraine, and eventually to Zaporozhye, where his mother used to live.
After spending a year and a half in a local children’s shelter in Zaporozhye, Igor and his brothers were transferred to the orphanage where we met and he lived there for six year until he graduated and went on to trade school.
During trade school, Igor lived in a group home for graduate orphans where he learned about God and gave his life to Christ.
By the time Igor’s younger brothers graduated from the orphanage, Igor found an apartment to rent so that what was left of their family could be together. He has taken care of them his whole life and wants more than anything to see them succeed.
In 2020 a government program for orphans began giving each orphan an apartment (apartments are privately owned here, like a condo) after leaving the orphanage. Igor’s younger brother was given an apartment last year and his youngest brother will be given one this fall. Igor however, was already 23 years old last year and missed the cutoff.
I have had the pleasure of working with Igor these past four years at House of Compassion with the goal of building a home for orphans so they don’t have to grow up in the lonely orphanage system like he did, but have a place to call home. He is kind, selfless, motivated, and has a heart of gold. Life has dealt him one bad hand after another and he never says a word. He believes that God brought him on the path he is on so that he would find God and he doesn’t regret the story he has to tell of hope and redemption.
Please help us bless this young man with an apartment of his own so he can start a family someday and have a place for his children to call home.