Pinson family ministers to Ukrainian orphans
By Crystal McGough
In 2008, the Holmes family in Pinson began a ministry hosting orphans from Ukraine in their home after working with another group that hosted orphans in 2007. Each year, Ricky and Hollie Holmes, along with their seven children, host multiple orphans in their home.
“I felt God calling us to adopt and host orphans,” Hollie Holmes said. “That fall, I went to Ukraine and met hundreds of orphans. I came home knowing that I had to help them. In 2008, we raised funds and hosted our first group of orphans. We have brought orphans to our home every year since then.”
Holmes said that there are over 100,000 orphans in Ukraine.
“It is about the size of Texas,” she said. “We are trying to help a few orphans at a time. Bringing the orphans here on a cultural exchange program helps to bring awareness to orphans in general. It allows people to see them as individuals and not just a big number.”
Through their ministry, “Be Joyful in Hope,” the Holmes’ not only bring children to America, but also hold summer camps called Camp Hope in villages in Ukraine. The family is currently in Ukraine hosting these camps.
“Last year we began a camp in Ukraine for orphans,” Holmes said. “We raised funds to buy food and crafts for the orphans. We took a team to Ukraine and held camp for two weeks. The second week we had a different team. The children were able to play, laugh and eat healthy food. The orphanages lack protein and fruit in most of their meals. Most orphans are very skinny.”
This year, Be Joyful in Hope is holding camp in at least three villages. Holmes said she expects 80 children the first week, 40 the next week and 40 the last week. Camp for one week for 40 children costs around $1,600.
“We still need sponsors for the last week of camp,” Holmes said. “We are excited to be partnering with Christian Ukrainians to hold camp in Ukraine.”
When the Holmes’ return to Pinson, they will be expecting the arrival of six Ukrainian orphans. Inna, age 6, Sasha, age 7, sisters Karina and Rosanna, ages 9 and 10, and brother and sister Oksanna and Oleg, ages 8 and 9, are expected to arrive around Aug. 8.
“This is the youngest group of orphans that we have ever hosted,” Holmes said. “The orphanage director will come with them. Each year there is no guarantee that they will be approved for their Visa. They have an appointment at the embassy Aug. 3 and should be allowed to fly a few days later. The group will stay two weeks.”
Holmes said that all of the children will stay in their home while in America.
“Our children share their rooms or move into a sibling’s room during hosting,” she said. “They have learned a mix of Russian and Ukrainian. It has been a great experience for our children to welcome the orphans into our home. They see them come here, sometimes, with only what they are wearing. When they leave, they have new clothes and things that belong to them. Our family is blessed and it is good for them to see how some children live.”
It costs the Holmes’ $2,500 in hosting fees to bring each child to America. The hosting fees include plane tickets, insurance, guardian’s donation and ticket, and fees in Ukraine for them to get the orphans passports and Visas. The family tries to get friends, families and churches involved and asks for donations to help with all of the fees.
Anyone interested in helping Be Joyful in Hope can get information at www.Bejoyfulinhope.org.
“We have days posted that visitors are welcome to come,” Holmes said. “We invite people to volunteer and join us on outings or to sponsor an outing. The calendar will be posted at Bejoyfulinhope.org.”
By going on outings, the children get to learn about American culture while experiencing family life.
“We take them to the zoo, museums, and they get to see what the United States is like,” Holmes said. “It also gives them an opportunity to see what living in a family is like. Many orphans live in the orphanage most of their life with no visitors.”
Holmes said that groups, families and churches are invited to bring meals and meet the children while they are here.
“It gives people an opportunity to serve children from another country right here,” she said. “Many can not travel oversees, but most could donate a gift card for a meal or bring a meal to the orphans.”