At Work in the Fields of Heaven

March 1st, 2013 by Karen Springs

This photo of one of the Ukrainian gypsy children supported by Orphan’s Promise was taken by Karen Springs, who is on the ground for us in the Ukraine. Here is her story behind the photo in her own words:
This picture was taken of a little girl I briefly met while visiting an ongoing project we have in a Roma (Gypsy) community.  It is an area nestled at the edge of the Carpathian Mountains and home to a significantly sized Roma population. I have been able to visit the community twice to see the work being done and report on progress and take photographs. It is difficult to describe what it is like to walk amidst these gypsy communities. Sometimes only a stone’s throw away from their Ukrainian village neighbors, and yet the lives they lead are so different.
Upon entering one of the gypsy settlements you instantly put aside all of your own problems. They suddenly seem insignificant in comparison to the needs of the people living in these communities. The poverty of the living conditions are even more shocking when winter sets in. Houses have dirt floors, lack doors, and are not built with heating or a water supply. So much poverty. So much need. So much corruption and injustice. One home I walked into was only 2 rooms with 2 beds…and yet 10 people slept between the two beds. Many in Ukraine blame the gypsies themselves for the state of their life and the choices they’ve made. Others blame the State for not trying harder. When I look at the problem it becomes clear that it can’t be a blame game.  There is just tremendous need…mainly among the children- and most families have 6-8 of them.
This little girl in the photograph is just one of hundreds of beautiful diamonds in the rough of this community.  Covered in dirt, and yet radiating God’s beauty. Last winter, our staff from Kiev traveled to several homes in the region and installed economical heating devices, fixed roofs, installed doors, and distributed blankets and warm clothes.  People were so grateful for the help, and to know that people cared. The SEED project (Something to Eat Every Day) is another project we have begun in this region through the support of Orphan’s Promise. The project’s goal is to help the poorest of the world’s populations through farming. People in the hardest of conditions are taught to change their lives with their own hands.
You know the saying…give a man a fish and I he can eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. The results of the project have been very encouraging so far (this photo was taken in an area where this program is at work). As the gypsy people started to gather the first fruits of their labor nobody could believe the reality–it was working. The success has inspired and encouraged the entire community.  To me this picture of this little girl serves as a reminder.  A reminder of the struggles of Gypsy people and yet of the hope that God is bringing to their community through believers who want to make a difference.  In her eyes I see both her need and yet a glimmer of hope.
Karen Springs

About Karen Springs

Project Manager for CIS & Eastern Europe. Karen Springs has lived and worked in Kiev, Ukraine since 2004 with CBN and Orphan’s Promise. A native of Seattle, Washington, Karen moved to Ukraine after graduating from Seattle Pacific University in 2004 with a degree in Communication and Theatre. With a heart for orphan care and adoption, Karen oversees the operations of Orphan’s Promise projects in the CIS and Eastern Europe. These projects include a campaign for promoting adoption among Ukrainian nationals, post adoption support and training, life skills training for older orphans and leading summer camps for orphans. In addition Karen runs a hospitality ministry to American adoptive families that is supported in part by Orphan’s Promise. Karen is also a blogger and photographer and enjoys capturing the work of Orphan’s Promise through her lens.

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