WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — The road to safety for orphaned youth in Ukraine didn’t come easy.
“Most of them were able to get out within a few days, but for the Mel’s House family, it took 9 weeks,” said Heart for Orphans Founder Nancy Hathaway.
She said the family of about 29 people in total ran into vehicle issues as the war first began in Ukraine.
When the family finally repaired the vehicle and reached the border, Hathaway said they ran into more problems. The boys of age on board had to fight in the war, according to new law.
The girls in the group couldn’t get clearance to leave right away, so they dealt with paperwork issues for weeks.
“It was problematic… but the good news is they have left, they are in safety now," Hathaway said." They are in a beautiful facility another organization made available to us.”
Now, Hathaway can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
“We were like, ‘I want a picture of you guys out!’" she said. "We just were so excited.”
At the same time, the organization learned one of its facilities, located in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, was destroyed. Heart for Orphans holds a program there called 'Friends Club.'
“Just a few weeks ago, there were explosions, and that whole city has been undergoing fighting," Hathaway said. "The windows have been blown out of our facility there.”
Right now, no one can assess the full extent of the damage until the war is over. Though, Hathaway wants to focus on the positive as the leaders try to bring a sense of normalcy to its youth.
"Sadly, there’s probably going to be many more orphans with this situation," she said. "So, it’s frustrating, but our ministry is to take care of orphans and that’s what we’re going to do.”