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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Q5: Program connects girl from Ukraine with local family

  • The Whitmore family hosted a child from a Ukraine orphanage through a program called New Horizons for Children recently.
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  • The Whitmore family hosted a child from a Ukraine orphanage through a program called New Horizons for Children recently.
    1. Tara, can you tell us about the program New Horizons for Children and the children that are helped by it? How can interested community members find out more about hosting a child?
    NHFC is a hosting program that connects orphans from Latvia, Ukraine and now China with families who host them for 4-5 weeks over Christmas, summer or for the Chinese Program, over Chinese New Year.
    The kids learn 4-5 years' worth of English and enjoy spending time with an American family. The children also visit the dentist and optometrist while in America, having whatever needs arise in those areas taken care of during their visit.
    The Smile Centre and Reifschneider Eye Center are donating those services- we are exceedingly grateful for their charity!
    There are many other ways to help; the NHFC website is excellent (www.newhorizonsforchildren.org). Even clicking through their website under, "More ways to help" and shopping on Amazon sends donations their way. If you know of a family who is hosting, send them a gift card for Target or Walmart. Most kids arrive with little or no extra clothing and all of it must be purchased, including shoes, as well as toiletries and any additional personal items.
    2. Why did you decide to host a 15-year-old girl from Ukraine for four weeks over the Christmas holiday?
    Shawn and I have spent the last couple of Christmases forgoing presents for each other and instead pursuing larger donations to charity. It's a good heart checkup and takes the focus off of ourselves. When we heard about this program on K-Love, it just fit. We hope to teach our kids that Christmas is not just about gifts; God wants us to give back even more than normal at Christmas. I saw Anya's picture, showed my family and we instantly loved her. She will "age out" of the orphanage on Aug. 31 and knowing this was her last chance to be hosted really got our attention.
    3. How have you spent the time so far with your special visitor and what do you hope to teach her and mentor her on while she is with you?
    We met up with Anya in Atlanta and went shopping! It took some charades and help from Google translate to help her understand we were clothes shopping. It was a lot of fun and she really enjoyed it! Then we drove to Tampa, Fla., to visit with my parents. Busch Gardens Tampa was kind enough to provide Anya with a free ticket under their Hero Salute program!
    We spent her 16th birthday there riding roller coasters and feasting on the pizza buffet. Anya loves pizza!
    Page 2 of 3 - Then we celebrated with roses, cake and presents at my parents' house. Next we drove to North Carolina to house hunt, as we are moving there in about four weeks. Anya was a hoot checking out the houses — opened every door, drawer and finding every pet in each home we visited. Then we drove back here to Kansas and enjoyed the snow. Ultimately, we hope to help Anya enjoy her time here, show her that God loves her and teach her as much English as possible.
    4. Statistics are harsh when it comes to orphans "aging out" of their orphanage and entering the real world in Eastern Europe, with 60 percent of them ending up in prostitution. What are the most important things that local sponsors can do to positively influence these girls in the short time they are here?
    Anya is intelligent and exceedingly kind. She is inquisitive and patient. She bonds easily with everyone she meets and is very nurturing with young children and pets. Her orphanage has obviously built on her strengths and taught her responsibility.
    Showing her what a healthy family is like, even with the hiccups of normal family interaction, can leave a lasting effect. Love builds self confidence and modeling healthy behavior has a huge impact. Unconditional love, despite testing the rules, shows them that they are safe and rules are really a good thing! Showing her that she has value and talents will hopefully give her the confidence to make wise choices. Host families also have the opportunity to stay in touch with their host children and can even send care packages! Technology also aids in keeping in touch as most teens have a facebook-like page they use. The mentoring can continue across time and space.
    5. What has been the most rewarding part of hosting this young girl for you and your family and what do you think she will take away from this experience?
    Seeing Anya's reaction of delight when she understands something is very rewarding. Tucking her in at night is also very sweet. She just loves the process of reading the Bible, prayers, hug and a kiss. We were told that if you say, "Yellow blue bus," it sounds very much like "I love you" in Russian. We say it in English too. After she returns to the Ukraine, I hope she continues to feel loved and knows that there is a family in America who is praying for her. We plan to print her a book full of pictures of all the families who prayed for her or donated something for her.
    We hope seeing their faces and knowing they love her will encourage her if she is going through a rough time. We don't know what the future holds, but we will never be the same and I pray Anya won't either!
    Page 3 of 3 - — Rimsie McConiga

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