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Alabama nonprofit Bridges of Faith continues mission in Ukraine

WAFF's Kellie Miller reporting
Published: Apr. 2, 2022 at 9:51 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 2, 2022 at 9:58 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Since the war began in Ukraine, volunteers with an Alabama organization called Bridges of Faith have worked tirelessly to help orphans find their families and get to safety.

President of Bridges of Faith Dr. Tom Benz has been leading the effort since day one. He said volunteers were able to get a large group of Ukrainian orphans to safety, however the adoption process is frozen and it’s going to be for a while. Now, volunteers are shifting their focus to keeping kids fed and cared for in Poland and other safe areas as the war continues.

“As much as we wanted to move things forward quickly, because of the fear of human trafficking and because of the disarray, the Ukrainian government has frozen adoptions,” Benz said. “We have to keep the kids safe, as many as we can, and then when the dust begins to settle we will pick up adoptions.”

In late March, Benz flew to Warsaw and visited many border crossings between Ukraine and Poland. He said he saw a great need for more shelters and medical supplies. Benz is now working on putting together a team of volunteers to go on another outreach trip at the end of April. They plan to find a facility to rent where orphanage groups can stay.

“We want to make sure they have adequate supplies, and make sure they have appropriate living accommodations,” Benz said. “I think that will definitely be our next move.”

The team of volunteers will also provide medical supplies at the Ukraine border.

Although the situation in Ukraine is bleak, Benz said he witnessed some amazing acts of kindness. For example, at the border in Romania, one of the first sights people see after fleeing the war in Ukraine is a young woman standing on the sidewalk with a cardboard box at her feet. The box said: “Free hugs.”

“It really meant a lot to me to see that,” Benz said. “What a wonderful thing to do. One thing she can offer is just some kind of solace to people who have probably seen some awful things.”

Benz also visited a makeshift refuge home in the city of Siret. He said he met a woman and her husband who bought the home about five months ago. They described it as their dream home. Now, the couple is cooking and taking care of as many as 40 people at a time in their home.

“I was so challenged by their generosity, and by the way they responded to the need,” Benz said.

Benz said there are many ways people in Alabama can help Bridges of Faith continue their mission, and he’s thankful for the folks who have already helped make a difference.

“We do have kids who are in need and we believe that the people of Alabama will step up to the plate and answer every challenge, including the financial challenge,” Benz said.

You can make donations and provide medical supplies. Community members are also invited to take part in the next outreach trip at the end of April. You can visit bridgesoffaith.com or the organization’s Facebook page to learn more about the organization’s work and to receive updates.

The ultimate goal is to get orphans to their adoptive families in the United States. But until then, Benz will continue to fight the good fight of faith.

“When you see people reunite, as we had the opportunity to see, and you see the joy and you realize, all the stuff that’s so important to us in life, just really isn’t that important,” Benz said. “We want kids to have a childhood. We want kids to have a home that is safe. We want orphans to have a mom and a dad.”

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