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Todd Griffin Smyrna, TN Follow

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Little has changed since 2016, when Ukraine was ranked as the third largest and second-poorest country in Europe, with an average annual income of $3560 USD. According to the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP’s) latest report, about 60 percent of Ukrainians live below the poverty line. Long story short, our family discerns that we have been called to help orphans and the poor in Ukraine, a country in the midst of social upheaval and economic change as it proceeds on a sometimes difficult path towards democracy. As in most times of political and national upheaval, children suffer the most.

We both have hearts for both the poor, the disabled, crime and disaster victims.  We were recently blessed to learn about Andrii Bykh (Андрей Бих) who recently turned 18.  He lives in Ternopil, Ukraine, and late last year his parents were killed in an automobile crash.  To further complicate matters Andrii needs a heart ablation and surgery to correct a problem heart valve. 

Since his parents passed away, Andrii has been struggling to pay rent, utilities, groceries and medication.  When our family learned about his unique situation; he is young too take care of everything, but too old for orphanages or formal adoption.  After much prayer we informally “adopted” and consider him to be our son. 

For the last several months we have been able to assist Andrii with housing, food, clothes, dental work and all the other things that he sorely needed.  Unfortunately, the Ukraine has been fraught with corruption, is quickly spiraling towards economic failure and has a failing national medical system that is more than 30 years behind, operating in deteriorating buildings, with very limited staff, nurses and doctors. Currently, Ukraine is lacking the expertise or facilities equipped to treat Andrii’s heart condition. 

As Andrii recently turned 18, he no longer qualifies for medical assistance through other organizations that help children receive urgent and necessary heart surgery.  As a result, we have been working to locate a well-equipped facility and the best surgeons in nearby countries.

Todd was recently approved to serve as a volunteer this summer for up to 90 days with the Ukrainian Humanitarian Initiative (UHI) near Cherkasy.  UHI is a voluntary, not-for-profit charitable foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life for children living in orphanages and providing humanitarian aid and support for the needy children in Ukraine. The mission of UHI centers on providing immediate aid to those most vulnerable children in Ukraine

Todd is planning a trip to Ukraine to serve as a volunteer with UHI and will also use this time to meet with and assist Andrii with his recovery after the operation.  We are also reaching out to churches that have indicated they would like to assist.

At this time, we are prayerfully asking for God’s provision to help pay for the roundtrip travel, travel insurance for Todd, and for the $2500 still needed for Andrii’s medical needs. We are grateful that we currently have been blessed with resources to meet Andrii basic needs.  Though we would both love to go to Ukraine, we’ve made the hard decision to keep everything as cost efficient as possible

Estimated Mission Expenses & Donations
Andrii's heart surgery co-pay $2,500.00
UHI Orphanages donation $2,000.00
Round Trip Airfare (1 coach, 18 to 22 hours)  $1,400.00
AirBnB Ternopil ($24 per day) in Ternopil $240.00
UHI, gift to host family in Cherkasy $240.00
Train, Taxi & Ground Travel $150.00
Inoculations for foreign travel $150.00
Foreign cell phone service $140.00
Incidentals $100.00
Medical Travel Insurance (2 month max) $ 80.00
                                                        Total for Mission Trip $ 7,000.00 


Poverty in Ukraine significantly worsened due to persistent conflict, ever since it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Life expectancy is falling, and Ukraine suffers a high mortality rate from environmental pollution, poor diets, widespread smoking, extensive alcoholism and deteriorating medical care.

Due to ongoing battles with Russian Federation forces, and Ukraine’s struggle towards true independence and democracy the majority of Ukrainians live below the poverty line. The result has caused thousands of deaths, illness, poverty and displacement. Ukraine experienced a deep recession and high inflation rate in 2015, and is still in the process of recovery, and this year the country is very close to economic collapse.



Andrii recently graduated college, works full time and regularly attends St. Basil's Church in Ternopil. He is a smart, kind and hard working young man.  Despite his challenges, he remains confident and has a good attitude.  He loves God, and stays in constant contact with us.

Michelle is an IT Engineer and Analyst professional, plays the piano and Todd refers to her as a walking encyclopedia and musical decipherer.

Todd is graduate of New Mexico State University (accounting and pre-law) and a retired criminal investigator.  He served with the State of New Mexico, and later as a cross commissioned tribal, state and federal criminal investigator (served as a multi-jurisdictional investigator that primarily included Native American reservations). 

After retiring from public service, Todd served for over three years as both a volunteer and staff member with the American Red Cross Disaster Services and recently took a full-time position with a non-profit organization where he serves as an employment and community engagement coach for people with disabilities. 

Todd and Michelle are members of St. Patrick’s Anglican Church in Smyrna, Tennessee.  We continue to study the history of the Christian Church, including the Orthodox Christian Church.  We are slowing learning to read, write and speak Russian. Their daughter Caitlin, served with US Navy, is happily married and attending Middle Tennessee State University with plans to become a veterinarian.

We pray that God continues to guide and provide as we seek serve across multiple denominations and Christian organizations in a united effort to reach those who are suffering in Ukraine.

We will continue to use our personal resources to provide support to Andrii and Veronika which averages about $500 - $600 per month. Also, any other expenses for this trip will also be covered by us.

Video Credits:
Rebel Shoes Productions
Published on Mar 13, 2015

ORIGINAL STORY BY: Loren Eiseley ADAPTED BY: Sidney Diongzon DIRECTOR/CINEMATOGRAPHER/EDITOR: Sidney Diongzon SECOND SHOOTER: Ernest Armendariz MUSIC: “Michelle’s Story” by Church On The Move SPECIAL THANKS: Corona Life Services // Crossroads Christian Church // Restoration Roasters //, visit //

Campaign Creator Avatar
Campaign Created by:
Todd Griffin Smyrna, TN Follow

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1 % Complete 2 donation(s)

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