Dr. Joe Savage joins us to talk about helping orphans from Ukraine. Here’s a look at our conversation:
Chad: What is Roads of Hope?
Guest: Roads of Hope is a non-profit organization. Our main purpose is to keep orphans safe from human traffickers. We primarily work in the countries of Moldova and Ukraine. These two eastern European nations are ground zero for human trafficking – and the traffickers often target orphans. So Roads of Hope works 365 days per year intentionally keeping orphans safe and preventing them from being trafficked. We have homes all over both countries where we house orphans and educate, provide healthcare, clothing, and everything else the orphans needs to have a good life.
Chad: This past spring Debbie Williams did a story with you in Baldwin County, talk to us about some of the programs you offer locally for orphans from across the world?
Guest: This past summer was awesome and we were honored Debbie and WKRG did a story on us. In July we brought 19 orphans from Ukraine to America for 5 weeks. Nine of them stayed with families and the other 10 stayed together as a group in Mobile. The goal was to give the kids a great summer trip where we would show the kids great love, help them academically, let them learn about America, and simply have fun. For many of the kids, they had never spent a single night inside of a home with a family. Many had never sat at a dinner table or had a refrigerator to reach into and get something to drink. Many had never had anyone pray with them or show them what love really looks.
Chad: To keep 19 orphaned kids for five weeks had to be quite the undertaking. How did you do it? I assume the kids spoke English?
Guest: God’s provision and grace, a whole lot of prayer, and going without sleep for a month! Very few kids spoke English. When they arrived some of them had a backpack with a few clothes inside but most literally came here with absolutely nothing but the clothes on their backs. A few were sick. Most were skinny and needing nutrition. Mobilians and people all across the Gulf Coast started helping. Chad it was unreal how many people provided clothes and meals and doctor visits, and transportation. People really cared. We had the Catholic Archdiocese in NOLA help us when the kids arrived, then the Greek Orthodox churches in Mobile and Biloxi both helped, as well as Luke 4:18 Fellowship, Harvest Church and Christ United Methodist in Mobile, the Island Church in Orange Beach, FBC Fairhope, and the churches on Highway 104 – First Baptist Church Robertsdale, First Baptist Church Silverhill, and 3 Circle Church! Lots and lots of businesses helped us also and many restaurants fed the kids. In all we had almost 200 people volunteer and people provided more than 1000 meals for the kids! Oh and every child went back to Ukraine with a 45 pound suitcase apiece loaded with clothes and gifts!
Chad: Will you host orphans again?
Guest: Yes! We are locating families right now to help us host some orphans at Christmas and to host this upcoming summer.
Chad: Why is this work important?
Guest: First and foremost, God instructs us to care for orphans. James says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God is to take care of orphans and widows in their distress.” Second, this work is important because kids are being trafficked and dying at an alarming rate and someone has to do something to help. In Moldova and Ukraine, 60% of orphaned girls will be trafficked and will die within 7 years. 15 % are committing suicide before their 18th birthday. These orphans need help. Roads of Hope has found a way to counteract the traffickers by providing daily care 365 days per year serving on the front lines of trafficking. We are seeing many many kids being helped across two countries because people here are sponsoring orphans and helping us to care for the kids.
Chad: What inspired you to start it?
Guest: Seeing the needs of the orphans firsthand. In 2014, I was leading a team of college students from the University of Mobile into Moldova. We were visiting the largest orphanage in the country when I became aware of the great number of orphans being trafficked. Logic told me if we had a house we could invite some of the girls to live there and they could go to school, be safe, and have a family. Standing there on that day, we prayed for God to provide us with a house and house parents and some orphans if He wanted us to help. Three days later we had a house, house parents and three girls. Then some of the girls began to call me their father. I was hooked. God made it clear. So I left my job in 2016 and committed full time to the care of the orphans. Today we have 9 houses we operate or support full of orphans who now have hope.
Chad: How does this all work to help kids avoid trafficking, drugs and other bad situations?
Guest: It’s simple. When a kid comes into our care, their lives are spared. They stay in school. They get love and care. They are safe. They have a real future. Statistically, the orphans who go on their own are dying. Currently, 50% of orphans from Moldova and Ukraine are dead before reaching their 21st birthday. They get trafficked. Become criminals. They have no hope. The difference is obvious. We give the kids real hope and a life.
Chad: How can people learn more or help?
Guest: Yes we need help! I need families hosting kids and I need people sponsoring orphans. I’ve got to get more kids out of their dangerous situations and into our safe homes. People can go to www.RoadsofHope.org to help or contact me.