When Ruslana Wrzesnewskyj and her husband adopted a baby girl from the Ukraine, they were appalled at the condition of the orphanages, and the fate of the children housed there - without proper clothing, adequate nutrition or toys. For two years, they organized a small-scale relief effort, storing goods in their garage and shipping supplies to the Ukraine in suitcases.
Ms. Wrzesnewskyj officially launched Help Us Help the Children (HUHTC) in 1994, organized under the umbrella of the Children of Chornobyl Canadian Fund, a charity devoted to helping victims of the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster, where rates of fatal disease and birth defects have drastically increased. In its first two years, HUHTC raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.
Today, hundreds of HUHTC volunteers have made countless trips to the Ukraine, hosting annual camping excursions, educational seminars and field trips. Funded by donations, the camps are now attended by nearly 500 children annually, where activities range from sports to teaching practical skills: sewing and computer classes.
Help us Help the Children supports over 200 orphanages throughout the Ukraine. Since it was formed, some 45,000 children have received services or supplies - medication, food, clothing, or participated in educational programs or anti-trafficking seminars designed to help the children reintegrate into society after leaving the system. Many have benefited from its diverse aid initiatives, including its scholarship program and prosthetics program for children with physical challenges.
Nominator: Krystina Waler