June 09, 2023

Yulia Ruda – getting over challenges to become a designer

This is a story about how support and faith in a child and their talent gives them the impetus to develop, move ahead with confidence and take on challenges. Yulia's example shows the wonderful outcomes of sponsorship and our care in action over 12 years.

Yulia is a talented, purposeful and very bright 20 year old. She lives in Rimini, Italy, working while pursuing her higher education in Ukraine and doing a design internship. But she had a difficult childhood. Yulia was born in a small town in the Lviv region. When she was in the third grade, she and her sister were taken to an orphanage. She was only 8 years old when we saw her arriving and got to know her there.

Yulia recalls with a smile the times when volunteers visited with the Together programs, how Care in Action gave her her first easel, how she got to know volunteer Maria Martyniuk and how the resulting friendship helped her to believe in her own strength. Yulia's drawings won prizes at various competitions. She sold several of her paintings at auction. Such a high appreciation of her skills encouraged her to develop in this direction, and Yulia decided to enter the Trush Academy in Lviv.

In 2018 we found a sponsor for Yulia, which significantly improved her financial situation during her student years. The new environment made a big impression.

"I used to swear in the orphanage. It was cool, everyone talked like that. And when I entered the Academy, I didn't hear any bad words from my fellow students. It was like a weight was lifted from my soul. I haven't sworn since," she recalls with a smile.

Yulia started to specialise and fell in love with Painting and Drawing. The teachers motivated the students, took them to different sites, and gave them interesting practical assignments.

In her first year of study, Yulia began the difficult court processes needed to receive a scholarship and social benefits. It was an emotional time, but she was supported by friends and volunteers who were always in touch and ready to help, offering her a place to stay when it was needed.

Along with her studies, Yulia looked for opportunities to earn money. She sold her art, painted portraits with coffee and wine at festivals, and even worked as a babysitter.

"The boy I looked after was a very calm and positive child. He always made me laugh, and his mother taught me how to cook," Yulia recalls.

Portraits painted with coffee at a festival in Lviv and a bespoke painting on a restaurant wall, by Yulia Ruda

When the full-scale invasion began, it was very scary. The windows of the dormitory where Yulia lived overlooked a critical facility. Her friend suggested that they go to her grandmother's house in Italy, and they set off together.

By that time, volunteer Maria Martyniuk, who had known and supported Yulia since childhood, also lived in Italy. Maria connected with another volunteer to help Yulia find a longer-term place to stay, and gave excellent job references to employers she knew. Yulia became employed at a pizzeria.

"Yulia seems to glow from within. She always stood out among the other children and I loved spending time with her when we went to orphanages with our programmes," Maria says of her. "We have been friends for eight years. I was there for her at different stages of her life. But it often happened that she reassured me that everything would be fine. And looking into her bright eyes, I couldn't help but choose to believe."

Yulia completed her diploma online with excellent marks, then decided to pursue higher education. She managed to get into the 5th year of Trush Academy, paying at first but then finally getting a scholarship. Studying and working can be difficult at times, but Yulia is not afraid of a challenge.

To give Yulia experience in design, Care in Action found an internship with Joanna Lehnis, from Saga Studios, and paid for the necessary software subscription for Yulia to learn to create designs in 3D.

Yulia explains, "at first it was very difficult to understand the design work - the language barrier, the lack of experience in design software - but Joanna is a good teacher and now I'm doing well."

Designs by Yulia Ruda, who is an intern at Saga Studios

Yulia visited Ukraine to plan ongoing her studies and discovered that she had major problems with her teeth. Since Yulia didn’t get good health care in the orphanage she still had a milk tooth, which had caused other problems. The dentistry was quite expensive, but she managed to save money working in Italy and in November she was very grateful when we paid for half of her dental operation.

Now Yulia is preparing for her exams, working hard and even finding time for art - "When I draw, I get a thrill!"

Yulia is able to support herself in Italy, and has grown into an independent and responsible young woman who is ready to graduate from sponsorship. Our contact and her friendship with Maria continues. She smiles and flies through life, overcoming difficulties that adults sometimes struggle with.

Our care and ongoing sponsorship of just 30 Euro monthly can make a transformational difference to a person’s life. You can find information about sponsorship here. If you would like to sponsor a child, why not contact us today!

Sponsor a child

You can sponsor a child in Ukraine or Malawi and change their life for the better with a monthly donation of €30. In this time of crisis more children need the security of regular sponsorship to support their education and meet their basic needs.