The winter of 2004 in Berdichevo, a small township near Zhytomyr, Ukraine, was no different to any other winter. It was cold. Cold and dark. An unknown woman carried a child in her womb, a child that she couldn’t care less for. It was an unwanted, and very unexpected pregnancy. A pregnancy that she believed complicated her life more than she wanted. She wanted to be “free”. Free to do what she had become a slave to: drinking, partying and stealing. To her being pregnant and having a child was a liability from which she desperately wanted to escape.
Fast forward ahead and it was now the point of no return. The labor pains brought her to a small hospital where soon after a urgent arrival she gave birth to a baby boy. He was small, skinny and unwanted. He certainly wasn’t ready to face the brutal reality of this world. And the world most assuredly had no desire to welcome this little creature into its roaring waves. There was not one who welcomed this skinny baby with a smile. He was a child no one wanted and no one cared for. No one BUT God.
It was God Who welcomed this little life into this world with a loving smile. With a smile and a plan to prosper the unwanted child into a beautiful life of a great success. It was almost as if God Himself was looking into the eyes of His creation with a whisper: “I have plan for you, a plan of hope, to give you great future”.
However, the reality looked nothing like the development of a good plan. Shortly after entering the world, Andre faced the consequences of mistreatment and undernourishment during the maternity period. He was diagnosed with lactose intolerance. Not being able to digest food that contained lactose was only small part of an iceberg-size problem. Andre has phenylketonuria (PKU) – his body can’t process protein and he will wither away if he doesn’t get special food without the normal protein. This fault hinders growth and can cause brain damage.
He could have lived relatively well and healthy with medication the hospital provided his mother with. But he was not his mother’s affection. Instead of having him being nourished with the special formula which was to provide well needed protein to his growing body, his mother fed the formula to their pigs hoping it would cause them to grow faster.
The lack of essential nourishments threw Andre back in development. He was underdeveloped. His brain capacity was degraded, his skin showed vivid signs of sickness. When he turned four he could barely walk, talk or play. It was at this stage when he was taken to an orphanage for disabled kids. So much for having a good plan!
This is when we met Andre for the first time. Zhanna, the orphanage director, reached out to us for help. Andre desperately needed treatment, consisting of food, formula, and nourishment the
orphanage could not provide. And it was now the breaking point. There was no time for procrastination. Something had to be done, and done now. We started to provide special lactose free food while the government of Ukraine helped with special P-AM Formula to provide him with essential minerals and vitamins.
At this time the Ukraine was still in peace. So the good plan started. We provided food and the institution provided medication. Andre regained strength, increased in brain development and was becoming a wonderful teenage kid, still a bit behind with his essential knowledge but nevertheless growing rapidly.
Then in 2014 Ukraine faced the dark reality of war. The war that had an unavoidable domino effect on the whole country. Government institutions were the first to suffer. Balancing between having little and having nothing, Zhanna, the orphanage director, was able to survive through 2015. Then in January 2016, right before we were scheduled to visit the orphanage, she learned that there was no money, no support, no hope for anyone in the near future. Andre was no longer able to get subsidies for desperately needed formulas.
We were sitting at a table clogged with piles of papers, documents, brochures and business cards. Zhanna motioned towards the papers and said: “I have tried everything”. Then she reached and picked up an empty can of P-AM2 saying: This is Andre’s food. One can is enough to keep him fed for four days. We have opened our last one. We have no more food for him.
He needs this medication costing $400 each month to keep his brain developing and special foods like soy products. We’ve been supplying him with this for 2 years now. He is growing up well. We had to negotiate a deal with the medication supplier to ensure the tins of special powder keep coming through. Please stand with us to help meet the needs for this supply of medication for Andre.