Minnesota-based organization helps orphans in Ukraine

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In a church basement in Eastern Ukraine, dozens sit waiting for the air raid sirens to pass. 

Amanda Fetisov said when the sirens sound, it’s one of the only safe places in her village, Krivoy Rog. 

“It’s terrifying because you hear the siren and they say you’ve got 5-10 minutes to get to a shelter,” Fetisov said, “Our center is being used as a bomb shelter because we are one of the buildings with a basement.”

Fetisov and her husband Max are the directors and founders of True Hope Ukraine, an organization that was founded in 1999 to help Ukrainian orphans. 

“We work with orphans in Ukraine of all ages. Most specifically, we focus on orphans who’ve graduated from the orphanage and they go through a transitional period,” she said. 

When orphans reach the age of 16 or 17, they often leave the orphanage and many are not equipped with the skills to be successful on their own. That’s where True Hope steps in. 

“Because they’re not prepared for life, they end up in the cycle of drugs, prostitution, sex-trafficking,” Fetisov said, “We try to step in and be mentors to them, teach them life skills, connect with them, be family with them.”

But when the Russians invaded Ukraine more than two weeks ago, the Fetisov’s mission became even more urgent. Amanda evacuated Ukraine with 45 women and children, while Max stayed back to continue helping the orphans still there. He’s providing food, clothes and medical supplies to the children and to the Ukrainian military. Many of the orphans they work with have disabilities and are in need of medical supplies. 

“Supplies are limited, food is limited, grocery stores are empty,” Fetisov said. 

That’s where help Minnesotans come in. 20 years ago, Mary and Wayne Hedlund, of Big Lake traveled to Ukraine for a mission trip. They met Max and that’s where a lifetime relationship began. Today, True Hope’s board of directors is based out of St. Michael, Minnesota and they continue to support and raise funds for the organization in Ukraine. Since the attack on Ukraine happened, they’ve been raising money to support Max and the orphans in Krivoy Rog. 

“For anyone who has donated, given, prayed, we are just incredibly thankful,” Fetisov said.

All of the funds raised go directly to Max in Ukraine and Amanda in Poland to help feed, clothe and support the children and women. 

“We’ve seen so many generous hearts and so many caring hearts around the world and that’s really what’s given strength to people who are still on the ground is to know that everyone is behind them,” she said.  If you’d like to help True Hope Ukraine, head to their website to donate to their cause.