Maria Shestopalova’s story

Capturing Grace on a 23 day journey through Ukraine and Greece, Photographing at Sails of Hope for SOW

(Serving Orphans Worldwide)

Four years ago when Maria Shestopalova came to live at Sails of Hope, her life had been a very difficult story. In Maria’s ten years here on earth, surviving was the only goal. She had never received any formal education and was unable to read or write. 

Maria’s mother had suffered from mental disabilities, the outcome of a mom who drank during her pregnancy. Maria’s mother has the intellectual and psychological development of maybe a 12-year-old and is thus unable to care for her children. 

Maria’s father left the family when Maria was very little. After he was gone it was obvious that Maria’s mother couldn’t care for Maria and her siblings by herself. The children were always hungry, dirty, and cold. Once, their home burnt down because their mother did not know how to use the stove. 

During the war that broke out in 2014, Maria’s mother was injured by shrapnel, she did not know how to obtain help from a doctor, so the wound started to fester. Through financial assistance from Sails of Hope, doctors were able to save her leg, but she still has trouble walking today.

Since Maria and her siblings came to live at Sails of Hope, their lives have changed dramatically. Their health has been restored, they are catching up on studies, and have started to attend public school.

Through the help of Sails of Hope psychologist, Maria’s mom and children are receiving much-needed mental rehabilitation. Most of all, they have heard the gospel and embraced its life changing message of hope.

Maria is a very talented and creative girl now who loves sports, especially dancing, arts and crafts, and acting. She is a very talented actress and plays major roles in all of the SOH performances at the children’s home.

The unique model of Sails of Hope allows for connection to still take place between the children and their parents as they work towards full family reunification. Over 100 children have been reunified with their families through the ministry of Sails of Hope, this is true Christianity at work, changing lives.

About SOW Sponsored home

Sails of Hope

Sails of Hope is not an orphanage, this is a home of restoration and family reunification.
Each os these Angels whose faces or portrayed in this post are from a very similar path. The typical storyline for these children goes something like this.
In the city of Slavyansk where some of the most viscous fighting took place during a breach of Ukrainian borders that took over 10,000 innocent lives in 2014, life here will never be the same. Lives are fragmented and broken, there are no jobs, no opportunity like we are used to in the US. Men who have lost their jobs and have no hope, turn to alcohol and become addicted to drugs. The home becomes a place of tremendous abuse and neglect, ultimately these men disappear or die. This leaves a precious mom with a broken heart, missing the husband that she once loved, traumatized from abuse, devastated over her fractured family.
How can you provide love when there is no love in your own life?
How can you mend the heart of your child when your own heart is so broken?
This is where Eva and Sails of Hope comes in, standing in the gap, providing an option that rescues these children from a life of orphanhood in a government orphanage where a cycle of abuse and poverty are replicated for generations. Sails of Hope restores these traumatized children, surrounds them with megadoses of unconditional love and works to restore the family so reunification can take place.

This is the hands and feet of Jesus, this is true Christianity.

I breathed a silent prayer over each child as I photographically captured their hope filled hearts, Capturing Grace.
As you look through these photographs would you pray for the families that they represent?
Would you consider sponsoring one of these children?

You can change a life by listening to your heart, taking action and sponsoring a child through SOW

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