Ukrainian orphans to perform The Shoemaker#8217; By Andrew Giermak 11/29/2005 Forty orphans from Berdyansk, Ukraine, ages 7 to 16, will be presenting the classic Christmas musical, #8220;The Shoemaker

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Forty orphans from Berdyansk, Ukraine, ages 7 to 16, will be presenting the classic Christmas musical, “The Shoemaker,” at Wilroy Baptist Church Monday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.

Their visit to Suffolk is one stop during an two and a half week long trip to North Carolina and Virginia sponsored by Operation Blessing International (OBI).

The purpose of the trip is to raise awareness, funds, and supplies for the desperate problems faced by orphans in their home of Berdyansk and in the Ukraine as a whole.

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According to OBI, there are more than 100,000 orphans in the Ukraine.

Very few have any chance of being adopted within their own country.

Within the orphanages, there is little education and the children, unprepared to enter the outside world on their own, are forced to leave orphanages at about 15 years old.

Many orphans turn to crime, begging or prostitution; and the Ukrainian government estimates 60 percent commit suicide within five years of leaving orphanages.

The children, who will start off at Wake Forest University on Sunday, will stay with families in Raleigh, in Williamsburg, and then in Virginia Beach before returning home Dec. 15.

Their Suffolk visit comes as part of the Williamsburg leg of the trip.

On Dec. 13, the children will be on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club” television show.

Dot Dalton, president of IMPACT Suffolk, who is sponsoring the performance at Wilroy Baptist, said, “allowing them to be in homes will help them see some of what family life can be.”

Most of the children making this trip are available for adoption consideration.

Dalton said the response right here in Suffolk has already been impressive.

“People have already been approaching us about adopting, before they have even been here, it’s been amazing.”

“They (the Ukrainians) are coming here with literally the clothes on their backs,” Dalton said.

At each city and each performance during the trip, there are different donations being asked for.

“Suffolk has been charged with giving them gloves, hats and scarves.

We’re asking everyone to bring something and they will get their choice, then everything else goes back to the Ukraine with them.”

Admission to the performance is free and open to the public; a love offering will be taken and gloves, hats and scarves are the types of items being asked for.

OBI has started an education and career-oriented program for orphans in the Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev.

With funds and awareness raised from the performances during this trip, OBI is hoping to begin another program in Berdyansk.

“The Shoemaker” will also be presented at the Regent Theater at Regent University on Dec. 12 and in Newport News on the last night of the trip on Dec. 14.