Orphan Hosting - Open Hearts and Homes for Children
Hi, I live in Liberty township. I am trying to raise awareness for a non-profit organization that I had the privilege of working with this summer. I recently hosted a 14 year old orphan from Ukraine. It was a life changing experience for both him and my family. I will be hosting again, as I feel it was a very positive impact on our host child and our family. If anyone would like more information, here is the website, openheartsandhomes.org. It is completely 100% run by volunteers, so all donations go directly to hosting the kids. If you are looking for a "hands on" way to volunteer for something, this may be a great cause for you! I truly believe in the program and that it changes the lives of these children.
Hey! Awesome! I love talking about my experience. It was amazing. We hosted a boy this summer. He came and stayed with our family for 5 weeks. The program hosts kids From Latvia and Ukraine during Christmas and summer. The kids either live in orphanages or foster families. The idea is to show them family and give them a vacation like experience. I really wanted to volunteer for something, but with two toddlers I couldn’t. This was a way to volunteer with them and what we do everyday, just being family.
Our host child came and was extremely shy and pretty fearful too at first. But he came out of his shell very fast. He was so happy to just have a warm bed and endless food to eat at our house. He was really easy going and even though he didn’t speak English, after a few days we figured it out. He told us about his life, which was just very sad. He was removed from foster care and put into an orphanage. He has also been affected by the war in Ukraine as he is from the eastern region. He had a birthday here and we threw him his first birthday party. He was amazed at the cake I baked for just for him.
The whole experience was exhausting, but I would do it again in a heart beat! The hosting period costs $2,800 to host one child, more for siblings. This covers plane tickets, paperwork/visas and insurance. I know many people that have successfully fundraised all of the money to host. Then you just provide basic needs for the children while they are here, some clothes and toiletries for them.
We were hesitant at first thinking that it would be too hard on a child to bring them and then have to send them back. But although it was hard, it was worth it for our host child for so many reasons. He now has a family here in America that supports him and loves him and he knows it! He grew two inches while he was here. He had six cavities filled and now can actually see what he is trying to read with new glasses (we got all eye and vision donated to him). It is amazing what a loving family and safe Home can do for these kids. It’s not an adoption agency by any means, but about 80% of the kids hosted with this program do get adopted by someone in the United States.
Jessica I am in tears just reading your experience. How hard was it to say goodbye? And did you take him to fun places while he was here, like NYC, Hershey, or did you keep it low key?
It was the hardest thing I ever did putting him back on the plane. I miss him everyday! But it was such a beautiful experience and the connection I made with him was priceless (it’s like, the harder it is to let go, the more you know you did it right!). To have a loving healthy relationship with a family is such a gift for any of these kids because it is simply an opportunity that these children don’t get.
We took him to NYC, the zoo, swimming, bowling, zip lining, museums. It was a blast. But his favorite activity was kayaking on the lake. If you want to find me on Facebook (Jessica Lavorgna) and friend me, I can add you to our private page and you can see the whole hosting period we had with him, it was a roller coaster ride of emotions for all of us. It was amazing.
Each child is different. Some kids need it to be low key while others are able to go do lots of activities. The biggest thing though is just showing them a family and how the day to Day works.
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