Vadim is a fourteen-year old orphan from Southern Ukraine with a typical orphan life story: both of his parents have died and there were no relatives left to take him in.  His shy smile, though, is not as typical, as it is spoiled by a mild cleft.  While his parents were alive, they might have tried fully correcting it, but Vadim’s condition is not considered life-threatening but rather cosmetic, and therefore not covered by the regional budget.  Now that his parents have died, Vadim has nobody to advocate on his behalf to get the needed surgery.

Despite his cleft, Vadim remains one of the most popular kids at the orphanage and the director’s favorite.  It is his spirit, his drive to overcome all obstacles that keeps him standing tall despite bemusing looks from strangers.  Vadim makes up in neatness and nice manners for his facial deformity, so the only thing his friends notice are his quick mind, good nature and a soft sense of humor.  Vadim knows that his chances of being adopted at his age and with his handicap are slim to none but he nevertheless hopes to get a family someday — wife and kids, like everyone else, a good education and a good job.  Before that, he also needs to survive the mandatory service in the Ukrainian Army, where any abnormality becomes a source of practical jokes and sometimes even physical abuse.VadimCleft1

To achieve his dreams, Vadim would need at least a little help.  He would need to undergo cosmetic surgery to correct his lip and gum.  This would help him raise his self-esteem, and make a better first impression on his future sargeant, employer, and maybe his future wife.  We are asking everyone who can help financially to collect $500 needed for the cosmetic surgery.

03/10/05 Update: Katie from Weaton, Maryland, has given $500 to her cousin traveling to Ukraine to give towards Vadim’s cleft surgery. His surgery will happen sometime this summer, most likely in the Zaporozhie Hospital #5 with a renown department of facial reconstructive surgery.