A look back from 2020 at one meeting that took place in spring 2003, and a look at the
importance and fruitfulness of long-term strategic investments.
For us at the Family Home “Living Pearl” based in Bortnyky village in the Lviv region of
Ukraine, the spring of 2003 wasn’t much different from the spring of 2002 or indeed from any other
spring period. The children went to school and once the snow had melted and the ground dried we had
to put the territory in order - it is a bit of a task here as the territory is over 4 hectares of land with a big
park and garden where hundreds of trees need attention. We already carry out our own farming and in
spring it brings a lot of activities. Besides this, since the orphanage had only just begun to stand on its
own feet a few buildings were undergoing intensive repair including the main building with an area of
over 800 sq.m. With all those duties and anxieties little attention was paid to the fact that a group of
foreign guests was coming for a visit and they could become our potential sponsors in the future.
However, busyness was not the only reason everybody was preoccupied with his/her own duties
and tasks while little attention was paid to the expected visit and definitely there were no plans to do
anything extraordinary because of the coming guests. The orphanage had already existed for 5 years and
during that time it enjoyed quite a few visitors including influential people both from Ukraine and from
abroad. That’s why one more such group of potential sponsors from Czech Republic coming to a small
Ukrainian village based in the middle of nowhere was neither a sensation, nor surprise, nor anything
exotic. I can’t say that the visit was being taken disparagingly or no one was paying attention to it at all.
It would not be true. Our administration knew about the visit ahead of time and there were some
discussions on what needs we should emphasize as our priority in hope to get financial support. The
children also rejoiced on the news about the visit as they, after staying for some time in our place, had
learnt one simple thing – when visitors come to the orphanage they get sweets and presents. But in
general neither the administration nor children had any excessive worries nor extraordinary illusions.
Well, that spring visit of the representatives of the charitable organization “Charitas Olomouc”
from the Czech Republic became extremely important and truly fateful for the orphanage in Bortnyky. It
has begun long-term close cooperation, which has continued to the present day bringing abundant fruit
in the lives of Ukrainian children who need help and support due to various reasons. According to the
statement of the Czech delegation back then in 2003 they were positively struck by the openness and
sincerity of the Ukrainian side. They were able to sense absence of cosmetics or makeup, nobody tried
to make an impression or to decorate the real state of affairs. The place was shown to them as it was and
the information provided described the present situation, needs, desires, plans, etc. Most importantly,
they saw people willing to do something good, able to have an open dialog and ready to take on
responsibility. “Charitas Olomouc” from Czech Republic officially confirmed their intention to provide
financial support to the Family Home “Living Pearl” from Bortnyky a few months after the first visit.
The Family Home has been receiving this financial support to the present day. Here are several
examples of our cooperation and its consequences that benefited the Family Home and its children.
In autumn 2003 “Charitas Olomouc” donated money to the Family Home to buy a new tractor
and in spring the next year gave funds to buy agricultural equipment for the tractor: a plough, a
cultivator, a trailer, a seeder, etc. The funds were donated with one condition – the Family Home
“Living Pearl” has to expand its agricultural activities. We used approximately 2 hectares of land for our
agricultural activities until 2004. In autumn 2004 we already had 10 hectares, 3 years later we had 15
hectares and in two more years we had 32 hectares. We have been making a profit from our agricultural
activities since 2004 till now and it covers about 30% of our ordinary expenses. We receive income
selling surplus products: potatoes and other vegetables, wheat, barley, oats, buckwheat, meat, honey,
apple juice. Besides this, we have income from renting our tractor and other agricultural equipment to
local farmers and people in Bortnyky. Agricultural activities partially provide for our own needs with
good quality food. The importance of this activity for the children’s upbringing and for the formation of
a good family spirit in the orphanage is difficult to overestimate. We have a big hope that these
agricultural activities will help us to become 100% financially self-sufficient in 3-4 years. Since autumn
2017 we have been working on planting a 10-hectare plantation of blueberries. We accomplished 95%of
this goal by May 2020. We expect the first profits from the blueberry plantation in 2021 and beginning
from 2023 the plantation should provide enough income to cover all our ordinary expenses.
“Charitas Olomouc” financed a playground and sports grounds for the orphanage in 2008. We
installed a carousel and swings at the playground, and a sports grounds was equipped with football,
basketball and volleyball fields with horizontal bars, bars, ladders and a gymnastic complex in
summer/autumn 2008. In autumn 2008 the director of the Family Home “Living Pearl” during the
opening ceremony for the sports and play grounds with the representatives of “Charitas Olomouc”
expressed hope that future famous Ukrainian sportsmen like footballer Andriy Shevchenko or boxer
Vitaliy Klychko will begin their sporting life here. We have not enjoyed many great results in sports in
11.5 years but we already have our first achievement. One of our boys became the champion of Ukraine
in karate among juniors (U17) in February 2019.
From 2001 till now “Charitas Olomouc” has been supporting our graduates who study in
colleges and universities through the programme “study fund”. More than 20 graduates received
financial support in these years. Having left our place and begun independent life our boys still have
support and help. It is important for them not only in material sense but also in psychological matters.
Four of our graduates received their own houses in the last years thanks to our cooperation with
“Charitas Olomouc”. “Charitas” has provided part of the funds to purchase the houses in all 4 cases.
This list can continue but the help and support from our Czech partners are not just limited to
funds. During the years of our cooperation “Charitas Olomouc” has organized and encouraged the
representatives of the Family Home “Living Pearl” to participate in various seminars and meetings to
study and exchange experiences. “Charitas Olomouc” has also attracted volunteers from various
countries to work in the Family Home. In spring 2019, thanks to “Charitas Olomouc”, Michaela Bokova
came to know about the Family Home “Living Pearl”.
Michaela was born in the Czech Republic, lives in Berlin, Germany at the present and works in
the music industry as one of the main managers of the “Heartcore Records” organization. She has had
the whole month of August annually for her holidays and, as a rule, she has spent that month travelling
round the world visiting countries and places of interest. Gradually she started feeling some
disappointment and inner emptiness in her heart after such holidays. Reflection and self-analyses led her
to a conclusion that next time she should try something different. So, she decided to spend her following
holidays in an orphanage in one of the African countries. For the whole of August in 2017 she was
among poor children in Zambia teaching them music and singing. Michaela recorded a song at the end
of the holidays and put it on sale through the “Heartcore Records” trying to raise money in order to help
the talented children in Zambia to get musical education. She returned from her holidays with no
disappointments and her heart was full of joy. She went to another orphanage in August 2018, this time
in India. And in 2019 she ended up in Ukraine. According to Michaela the choice in favour of Ukraine
was made by her heart. As she did not have a particular place in mind in Ukraine for the holidays she
started asking her friends for help. Through her search she learned that “Charitas Olomouc” supports
various projects in Ukraine including orphanages. Having received Michaela’s request the
representatives of “Charitas Olomouc” recommended her the Family Home “Living Pearl”.
We, on our part, having had wonderful experience of cooperation with volunteers from different
countries and being open to people of good will ready to help others selflessly, agreed to accept
Michaela and her friends with no hesitations. We reached an agreement, solved all the technical details
easily and Michaela Bokova arrived at the family Home “Living Pearl” on July 31, 2019. Michaela had
three colleagues – Susanna from Czech Republic, Lena from Germany and Ganna from Ukraine who
lives and works in Germany now. They lived and engaged in various activities with our boys in August.
Only Michaela who coordinated and organized the entire process spent the whole month with us. The
other volunteers came for a week or two, each one at the appropriate time and with a concrete goal.
During that time our boys learned a lot about music, the music industry, singing, etc. They even had
opportunity to make up melodies and to write songs themselves.
The Hutsul spivanka song that our boys together with volunteers prepared for recording in a studio, was
chosen by Ganna Gryniva. Ganna’a root are in the Kyiv region and though her family moved to
Germany a long time ago she remembers and maintains her Ukrainian language and culture very well.
Our boys had group classes and individual lessons every day except holidays. Three main soloists were
chosen, and the core of the performers was formed very quickly although everyone at his wish took part
in the classes and preparation for recording the ‘spivanka’ in studio. Out of 26 boys present in the
orphanage in August 2019, 18 children went to Lviv to record the song in a professional studio on
August 26. There they got a chance to see for themselves how records are made and they also saw and
even were allowed to play professional music instruments for a short while. After 4 hours of intensive
work in the studio with an enormous number of takes we were all happy to go on an excursion in Lviv,
and were spoiled with tasty pizza before returning to Bortnyky. There were three girl volunteers with us
at the end of August and they spent a few more days in the orphanage before returning home. Teaching
the boys music and singing were not the only activities the girls participated in during their stay in the
Family Home “Living Pearl”. We worked together in the field and garden, cleaned the house and the
territory, went to Church and made trips, swam in the river and played football, celebrated birthdays and
the Day of Independence, made barbeques and received guests, etc. So, it was not an easy thing to say
goodbye but the girls received an invitation to visit us at Christmas time. Three of them – Michaela,
Lena and Ganna came to Bortnyky again in January and spend 5 more days in our family experiencing
all Ukrainian Christmas traditions that are kept sacredly in the Family Home “Living Pearl”.
During September 2019 – March 2020 Michaela, using her capacities and professional
connections, involved famous musicians to record music for the spivanka. And the song was released on
March 20, 2020. It is made up of people’s words, the boys’ singing and music from famous modern
performers. Such is the symbiosis.
You can watch a presentation of this project here: https://youtu.be/HzL-Wt8q4NY
The presentation is in English with Ukrainian subtitles. If someone has a desire and possibility to
purchase the song it could be done following the link: https://heartcore-records.com/product/heartcore-
for-ukraine-spivanka/ The price is 5 euro and all the money collected will be used for musical education
of our boys.
We are open for cooperation with people of goodwill. Our orphanage exists for more than 20
years and we have helped more than 70 children. There are not 100% good results in our work but very
many of our graduates do very well in independent life. We take pride in that and want to continue and
develop our work. We are planning to found a family home for girls and open a social centre for people
in need. Anyone wishing to help, learn more or cooperate please write to us: email@example.com
by Ruslan Markiv
director of the Family Home