The readers’ forum

Ukraine’s orphans cry in one language

 

A child speaks the language of his or her parents, if they have any parents at all.

My son was born in Russian-speaking Ukraine. He now speaks English with a Miami lilt. He was left in a Ukrainian orphanage where I found him. All babies cry in the same language. A Russian-speaking Ukrainian child is not a Russian child. They are Ukrainian youth who speak Russian as a first language. Putin’s excuse for invading Ukraine denies these children’s citizenship.

I have been working with Ukrainian orphaned and displaced children in Odessa, Ukraine for 18 years. I founded a humanitarian outreach program there in 1995 with the help of compassionate Americans, Europeans and Russian-speaking Ukrainian people. UAC Ukraine established a scholarship program for orphaned teens in 1998.

Hundreds of teenagers have been able to pursue higher education because caring individuals in the United States and Europe sponsor them. The scholarship students need to study Ukrainian in college because they never learned it growing up.

From my experience, it is indeed the orphaned and handicapped children who need protecting in Russian-speaking Ukraine. They needed protection from the corruption within the former government of Ukraine, and now they are threatened by Russia as their country was trying to rebuild itself and its shattered economy. The most vulnerable citizens are the youngest and the disabled. Inclusion in the European Union could be the gateway to a better future. The younger generation of a free Ukraine is full of the leaders of a better Ukraine.

The institutionalized Ukrainian children have been marginalized and lost in a myriad of stifling bureaucracy. They have suffered long enough. Enormous wealth has been created and distributed from this region throughout the world in recent years as the tears of the innocent continue to flow!

If only the young could have one language that the whole world could understand. Better decisions would be made across the board. It is up to the older generations not only to acknowledge the historical injustices that are happening around the globe, but to evolve and change our shared future.

Clara Pascal, founder/director, UAC Ukraine Program, Universal Aid for Children, Inc., Fort Lauderdale

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