Ukrainian orphans brought to Central Alabama for better lives

Published 7:43 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Described as a “present-day miracle” by its founder and president the Rev. Tom Benz, Bridges of Faith International has brought 10 adoptable Ukrainian orphans to Central Alabama in hopes to find them better lives and new families.

Ages 6 to 15 years old, four boys and six girls arrived from orphanages in Kiev about 5 a.m. Friday.
Bridges of Faith International is a ministry organization that owns BridgeStone Prayer and Retreat Center, where the kids are staying in Millbrook. “OrphansNoMore” the actual name of the organization, was established as a way to help the Ukrainian children find good families and homes.

“After graduation, at age 17, the children are put on the street, and five years after, 10 percent commit suicide,” said Benz. “More than 10 percent are in prison, only 10 percent make a reasonable life and the rest are involved with drugs, alcohol, prostitution.”

It took five days for the children to arrive at BridgeStone as they traveled with Larissa Benz, wife of Tom Benz, and Valery Dashevsky, a Ukrainian adoption facilitator.

The four goals of the OrphansNoMore program is to provide a great camp experience, help the children learn English, immerse the children in the gospel in ways that they were not free to when working in the government system in Ukraine and incubate adoption by having Central Alabama families meet the children and hoping they decide they can help.

“The best situation is for a child to be adopted,” said Benz. “ A typical adoption is $30,000 to $50,000, but the cost is spliced to $15,000 to $20,000 because we connect people with adoption facilitators in Ukraine.”

The children will be returning to the Ukraine Jan. 16.

The organization has performed mission work in the Ukraine for 16 years from summer camps to humanitarian aid and etc.

“The organization is entirely volunteer based and gains support from people who care,” said Benz.
Even though it took three years to get the first group of orphans flown over, Benz plans to do this four to six times a year.

“We invite people to come out and be with them even if they are not interested in adopting, come out and volunteer,” said Benz. “I believe there are some families here now that feel that, yes, they will adopt a child. I hope and pray that one day the children will find an adoptive home.”