Ukraine Alumna Reaches out to Children in Need
In early December 2010, Anna Tsapok (UGRAD 2009-2010) and six other UGRAD and Muskie alumni coordinated a project called "Books. Supplies. Toys.," which aimed to gather donations for underserved children in orphanages across Ukraine.
While studying at the University of Idaho through the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Eurasia and Central Asia, Anna was actively involved in Paint the Palouse, a volunteer project to paint houses for those who can’t afford to do so on their own. Inspired by this experience, Anna joined the UGRAD Alumni Steering committee and decided to implement her own community service project at home in Ukraine.
When Anna announced the project, alumni from across Ukraine applied to help coordinate the drive in their home towns of Sevastopol, Lviv, Kyiv, Kirovograd, and Cherkasy. Within only a few weeks, more than 600 toys, 400 school supplies, and 270 books were collected in donation boxes at local universities. “I was surprised how enthusiastic everyone was!” exlaimed Anna. “I heard students discussing what they were going to bring to donate and asking me if I need help with anything. By the end of first week of collecting donations, all boxes were full, so people just kept on leaving books and toys around them.”
In addition to assistance from IREX, the project received support from the Red Cross, Kyiv Mohyla Academy, and local NGOs and businesses.
Anna and her alumni counterparts hope that this will become a yearly event. They plan to build on this year’s experience, and perhaps expanding the project into other regions next year.
“It is my deep belief that all children, no matter where they live or what conditions they live in, must have access to education and understand that opportunities do exist,” commented Anna. “When one has caring and supportive parents or lives in a bigger city, education and opportunities are easier to come by. We need to give extra opportunities to those without such resources.”
The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Eurasia and Central Asia and the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program are administered by IREX and funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State.