Vasilyna bravely tells us of her fight to find a better life through dancing after a childhood of abuse, tragedy and institutional care. Her story shows the risks to finding decent work faced by so many vulnerable young people in Ukraine. Discovering a love for dance, and sponsorship through Care in Action to make this dream a reality, has changed her prospects for the future.
"My name is Vasilyna. When I was a child I had parents just like all the other kids. There are 11 children in my family and they are my closest friends. My mum is the kindest, cleverest, and most patient and loving person I have ever met and I will never see her again.
"We could only dream of having a good father. We suffered from both emotional and physical abuse. I remember as a child I was always hungry. He was a tyrant. Our family home burned down and all my brothers and sisters moved to the children’s home. We didn’t see each other often. There I got to know many things that children from normal families never experience.
"I was 12 when my mother was killed by my father. Sometimes I thought: “What’s the point of staying alive?” I kept a diary to write everything I felt, which helped a lot. And I danced in front of the mirror to keep myself from crying.
"I started to dream about who I’d become to make my Mum proud of me and decided to become a choreographer as my love for dance grew stronger. Since I couldn’t take classes in a dance studio I developed the skill myself. After a while my eldest sister Tania and her husband Denis took me and my siblings back home as our guardians. We all struggled with our emotions and learned to carry on. Denis was a good friend and I’m very thankful for that."
Werner and Janice got to know Vasilyna’s family, and supported their mother by providing clothes for the children and paying for a new foundation when their home burned down. When Tania and Denis wanted to care for her siblings, along with with their own two children, our sponsors helped to make this possible.
We paid to extend their 2 bedroom house, and brought the furniture, clothes and toys needed to meet the requirements of Social Services. Werner, Janice and sponsors were present at the inspection to support Denis and Tania’s application to become guardians. Later, when Denis had a life-threatening illness, a donor paid for a full year of medical treatment.
For many years we continued to support Denis and Tania with legal advice, counselling and TOGETHER activities to help them care for the children. Sponsorship helps to meet the educational needs of Vasilyna and two of her siblings. And Vasilyna joined STEP classes to build confidence and skills.
"When I finished school I went to college to study choreography. I had to pay for unofficial graduation fees so I worked night shifts at a petrol station, which was difficult and got me into trouble with the school. But when I danced I realised this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
"When I dance on stage I can open up and truly express myself. Often I find it hard to put feelings into words but showing them through dance feels incredible. Through dance you reflect all the colours of life and sides of your personality. It’s a picture that can be both sad and cheerful and tells its own story. I could talk about dancing forever!
"I decided to move to Kyiv to continue my studies. I saved money and worked abroad, then passed the entrance exams. In Kyiv I had to find a job as besides tuition I had to pay for costs like rent, food, and costumes.
"For almost two months I worked as a waitress, earning only tips. There were fights, guns, knives, police, rough girls, and many drunks. Once I ran outside when people I had served left without paying because I didn’t want to pay for them. A car turned right in front of me and crashed into the café. At that moment I thought I had seen everything!
"My clients often left without paying. I cried every day, I looked terrible, my legs hurt, I had no energy, I did not sleep enough and when I did I had nightmares about my father and was afraid to fall asleep again.
"One day I decided to look for another job and on the way to my dormitory I was mugged. My wallet and documents were stolen. After that I went for many job interviews but instead of decent work I was asked to provide “additional services”. I worked at a hotel for a month but didn’t get paid. I couldn’t do anything about it as I worked illegally.
"However, God sent me good people. I am very thankful for my sponsors. These people gave me hope for a better life. I have no idea what I would do without them."
Care in Action became aware that Vasilyna needed more than the standard sponsorship to help her reach her potential. The course in Kyiv would give her the equivalent of a Bachelor’s Degree. A second sponsor was found to pay for the full study fees.
"I am thankful that I have built character through my life experience. I try to trust people and improve myself but I find it hard to make friends. My best friend is my mum. I imagine that she is with me. I tell her everything and this makes me feel better. I need to stop doing this as sometimes I forget it’s only my imagination. I miss her so much…
"Now I work at a café. I make coffee and give people smiles by making pictures on their coffee. The pay is small, but I can combine this work with studying dance. Due to having bad jobs before I used to eat junk food and I put on some weight. Now I try to eat healthy meals and go for a run in the mornings. Everything gets better.
"My dream is to become a famous choreographer. I know it will take a lot of effort. I wish success for all my siblings and hope that one day we can go together to swim in the sea.
"I know one thing. The most important thing is not to give up."
To you, our donors, sponsors and volunteers, thank you for giving children better opportunities. Sponsors really can change a life, and get letters with updates from the child they sponsor twice a year. If you would like to sponsor a child in Ukraine or Malawi then contact us today!