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Fight Slavery Now! Message Board › 120,000 Ukrainian men, women and children have been trafficked abroad...

120,000 Ukrainian men, women and children have been trafficked abroad...

avra c.
divermate
New York, NY
Post #: 922
Caring for the children who 'don't exist'

Organization protects Ukrainian youth from falling prey to human traffickers
By Don Butler, The Ottawa CitizenJanuary 30, 2009

Odessa, Ukraine, is a haven for human trafficking of children, says Sergiy Svystun, director of World Hope Ukraine. Mr. Svystun, whose organization created a drop-in centre that helps hundreds of children in Odessa annually, was in Ottawa last night to give a talk.

Thirteen girls in the Ukrainian city of Odessa call Sergiy Svystun father. "That's something," the 33-year-old director of World Hope Ukraine marvelled during a visit to Ottawa on Thursday. Mr. Svystun, who spoke at Carleton University on Thursday night, has a son and a daughter. But for the teens who live at the Christian charity's Shepherd's Home, he's the father they never had.

With help from the Canadian International Development Agency and World Hope Canada, Mr. Svystun's organization offers the girls - most between 16 and 18 years old - a safe place to live and learn. Without him, they'd likely be on Odessa's streets, prime targets for human traffickers who stalk the Black Sea city of one million, looking for people they can entice or coerce into the sex trade or other grim forms of human bondage.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, nearly 120,000 Ukrainian men, women and children have been trafficked abroad - more than any other Eastern European country.
Some are effectively kidnapped. Others are enticed by promises of money and a better life. Some parents even sell their own daughters, Mr. Svystun said. Sadly, that no longer surprises him. Since 2001, he has worked with Odessa's street children, estimated at 5,000, but in reality far more numerous. Some are as young as four.

About 80 per cent are "social orphans" who live on the street because their parents drink, use drugs or abuse them sexually or physically. Officially, many don't even exist. Their parents never registered their births, so the state has no record of them. "That's why it's very easy for human trafficking," said Mr. Svystun. "You can take somebody who doesn't exist, so nobody cares." In 2001, Mr. Svystun opened the First Step Centre, a drop-in centre for Odessa's street children. It took a while to win their confidence, but now 300 to 400 homeless youths use its facilities annually.

They can get a meal, take a shower, change their clothes, get medical attention from a nurse or instruction from a teacher. "Some of them are 16 or even 18 years old, and they've never been in school," Mr. Svystun explained. "They cannot read even simple words." The homeless youth are all too aware of the human traffickers hunting them. "Street kids are very smart," he says. "They know everything, especially about dangerous places.

Some homeless girls cut their hair and wear male clothing to disguise their female forms. To look at them, "you wouldn't be able to say they're girls." Because it's hard to survive on Odessa's mean streets alone, homeless youth join gangs and rely on panhandling or robbery to survive. "It's like the beginning of a criminal life," Mr. Svystun said. Shepherd's Home opened in 2006 after World Hope Ukraine got a $150,000 grant from CIDA. The 13 girls - mostly "graduates" of state orphanages - live with a program co-ordinator who educates and protects them until they're able to make their own way in the world.

Last Christmas, the co-ordinator took her 13 charges to Crimea for a vacation. A fellow passenger asked if they were all her daughters. When she said yes, the passenger pointed out that they didn't look alike, a laughing Mr. Svystun recalled. "She said, 'yes, they all have different fathers!' "You know," he said, turning serious, "she told the truth. All of them have fathers, and most of them not very good fathers."

Sometimes, Mr. Svystun feels guilty that he can't help more girls. To that end, he's applied for a three-year CIDA grant that would allow his organization to educate more vulnerable girls about the dangers of the street and help them find safe places to live. His parent organization, World Hope Canada, provides funding as well. But, Mr. Svystun said, "they're struggling with money as well."

Working with street children has changed him. "Unless you work with this level of people, you never think about poverty. "People in Ukraine, they're so busy because they have a very hard life. So they think about their families, and that's it. Street kids," he shrugged, "they don't care about them."


avra c.
divermate
New York, NY
Post #: 923
Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

We have read about the prevalence of 'Street Children' in Haiti, Brazil, India, Bangladesh and many third world lands. But it was a revelation to me, the extent of this problem even in eastern Europe, Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere. I would like to do more research on the phenomenon of homeless children, especially as it relates to their being very much an 'at risk population' for human trafficking.




Any off-hand ideas on how we might go about crafting a response to this?
Peace... avra
avra c.
divermate
New York, NY
Post #: 956
A new Meetup group has formed here in New York specifically to address the plight of Ukrainian street children.
Their first Meetup is scheduled for next week at a very tasty and inexpensive restaurant next to the Ukranian National Home in the East Village.

Changing the conditions these children must endure certainly seems to intersect with the aims of our own group.
If any of our members are interested in attending, you may RSVP here:

­Looking for active people to help start Youth-NGO in Ukraine
Sun, 4/18, 4 pm

Peace... avra
avra c.
divermate
New York, NY
Post #: 959
U.S. Obama to hold bilateral meeting with Ukraine's Yanukovych
U.S. President Barack Obama will meet on April 12 with his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych on the sidelines of the nuclear security summit in Washington.
According to a statement from the White House, the presidents are expected to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues, including nuclear non-proliferation, an impact from the global financial crisis, energy security and military cooperation.
The April 12-13 Washington summit, bringing together almost 40 heads of state, will focus mainly on the vulnerability of nuclear materials and securing them against the threat of terrorist acquisition.

You may of course send a personal message to the White House: Contact the White House

My message was as follows...

I understand that President Obama is to meet tomorrow 4/12, with Ukrainian President Yanukovych on the all important issue of nuclear security.

While it may not rise to the same level of global importance, I would be highly appreciative if the President would convey the concern of many Americans for the 120,000 Ukrainians that have been victims of human trafficking, and for the thousands of Ukrainian street children that remain at risk for this fate. Any offer of assistance from the United States in this regard would be a humanitarian gesture that could only further bilateral interests.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Sincerely, Avra Cohen
FightSlaveryNow.Org


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