FORT MYERS, Fla. — New Horizons for Children (NHFC) is a US non-profit organization that has been helping orphans in Ukraine for over 10 years now.
“When the war started the opportunity to help more children opened up to us,” said David Graham.
David Graham, chairman of NHFC and a Fort Myers attorney who adopted his son from Latvia, is now doing what he can to help orphans and children in Ukraine during the current war.
New Horizons partnered up with other NGOs to get the orphan children out and into ‘safe havens’.
NHFC focuses on building these ‘safe havens’ alongside the western borders of Ukraine where orphans and caregivers can evacuate in times of war. As of 2022, NHFC has successfully housed 1,200 orphans.
“During the war, children in the middle of the night, left their orphanages on a bus, for hours, and hours and when they arrived at the ‘safe havens’ that New Horizons provided, they were coming off of the bus experiencing stacked traumas,” said Graham.
Each NHFC volunteer receives thorough training on trauma-informed caregiving so orphans and children have a stronger sense of security during these tragic times of war.
“The trauma of being moved from the only home they knew, in the middle of the night, with their PJs on and in an unknown part of the country raises a lot of anxiety,” said Graham, “not just chronic trauma from their place in life but also more trauma from this conflict.”
“We met them with open arms and hot food and an understanding of what they are going through.”
NHFC finds ‘safe havens’ from former schools, boarding homes, and other facilities.
“A Lot of people’s initial reaction is to get the children to safety – but the perception of safety has evolved,” said Graham.
“Of course, the initial reaction is ‘get them out of Ukraine’ however child traffickers have the same thought.”
To better ensure the children’s safety, NHFC recently had the opportunity to partner with the Ukrainian government to find the safest spots available for orphans and children in Ukraine.
‘We want to avoid any additional trauma and for most of these children, moving to another country would very likely be a contributor to trauma and expose them to higher risks of child trafficking.” said Graham.
For those interested in learning more about how to help the children and orphans in Ukraine, head to the NHFC website where you can learn more, share their stories, and contribute.