THIS CHILD HERE NEEDS YOUR HELP: $13,418.47 by Jan 8th

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At THIS CHILD HERE, WE KNOW it takes people to change people, especially the lives of young people.


-training and support groups for all foster families in Odessa, Ukraine

-training for mentors of youth in orphanages

Peacemaker training for teens throughout Ukraine

-Our 4th annual Peace Camp for families displaced by or in the gray zone of war

We need an additional $13,418.47 at the beginning of 2018.

Here below are some people who change the lives of young people.



This Child Here, at Christmas

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I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that the title to our Non-Profit, This Child Here, has one clear implication in the Holiday Season. Christians may not know the whole story of the birth of Christ, but if there was a man named Jesus, then there was once a child named Jesus. There was: That Child There.

We are told they were homeless on the night he was born, so Jesus ended up in as a newbie surrounded by cattle. We are told they were on the run for a few years from Herod, and we are told they landed back in Nazareth where Jesus grew up. After that, things are mostly speculation. How poor was the carpenter’s family? Were they middle class? What did Jesus do those first thirty-something years?

From what we read, he had a stable home and family. Once, when he was twelve, they got worried sick searching three days and “found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” . (This is all in Luke 2:41–52)

“Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching…”

Which tells us: Clearly, his family loved and cared about him enough to be outraged when he disappeared. And for three days, at age 12, Jesus was homeless.

That’s what we know of his childhood.

All the studies about and evidence of the childhood experience, point to a couple of truths. First, kids who grow up in a stable home and family have far better emotional and relational development, and a far better shot at life-success, than kids who do not. A two-parent home, a one parent home, a home with extended family, and adoption all provide the critical adult-child nurture necessary: the nurture that kids on the streets and in facilities do not receive.

Age 12 is the time kids make choices of their own. Jesus is already exploring options for the future. But if there is abuse in the home or in a facility at an early age, then, around age 12, is when kids run.

We have several objectives in the work of This Child Here in Ukraine. One is quite clear: get youth and children living in facilities, back into families. Family of origin is best. When that is not possible, foster family and adoptive family is next. There are 751 orphanages and about 106,000 kids living in them in Ukraine. Over the next 9 years, Ukraine hopes to complete that shift from facilities to families. They have the will; we have the will and way.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a rewarding year to come, all filled with grace and peace,

Robert Gamble

J.K. Rowling’s concern for kids in orphanages

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Does anyone know anyone who knows anyone who is an aquaintance of JK Rowling? She gives good funding to those who help move kids from orphanages to families. WHICH IS WHAT WE DO IN UKRIANE. If I could just get her organization to answer my emails.

Eight million children live in orphanages and other institutions globally. More than 80% are not orphans but have been separated from their families because of poverty and discrimination. Orphanages harm children, exposing them to all…

#Giving Tuesday is coming

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-Preparing foster families to receive a child from an orphange.

-Training mentors for youth in orphanages

-Teaching peacemaking skills to teens,

-Sponsoring a camp by the sea for families displaced by the war.

It’s what we do.  Here’s where funds go when you give:

$30 pays for the 3 day training of a couple to be foster parents.

$75 pays for one day of training for 15 adults to be foster parents

$70 pays the salary of two coaches for a support group meeting of 7 people in foster families. Over several months the group will meet 10 times.

$25 pays the salary of one trainer to lead a day of AVP (communication/relationship building and trust) training for mentors. The training lasts 4 days.

$100 pays the salary of one coach for 3 days of training 15 mentors to meet government standards.

$38 pays for the transportation of 10 mentors to an orphanage in a rural setting .

$75 pays for one month of tuition in university

$200 pays for one youth or adult (from displaced families) to go to the 10 day Peace Camp near Odessa on the Black Sea.

$600 pays for one three member family for Peace Camp.

$10,000 is the anticipated total cost of the 2018 summer Peace Camp

For a 3 minute read on our history and programs click What We Do.

There is a button above to Donate; if you wish to write a check, the address is below.
Robert Gamble
Executive Director
cell phone  828 318 2149
This Child Here a 501c3 nonprofit serving vulnerable youth and children in Ukraine.We are:
Donations by mail should go to:

This Child Here
245 Seaview Ave.

Daytona Beach, Fl  32118

My Mobile phone when  in Ukraine:  +380638229070




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Alla Soroka with fellow International Peacemaker, Mphatso Mary Nguluwe from Malawi, at the beginning of her tour.

Alla is now half-way through her travels in America; here’s the places she has already been:

Sept 4-11 Central Florida, First Pres Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach Pres, Winter Park Pres, Church of the Lakes, Sept 14 Atlanta GA, Sept 15-17 Collierville/Memphis TN

On behalf of the Peacemaking Program of the Presbyterian Church USA, , here is where she will travel. Click link above to read more about this program:
Sept 22-28 East Tennessee Presbytery Alcoa, TN .
Sept 28-Oct 4 Milwaukee Presbytery Milwaukee, WI .                                                          
Oct 5-11 Philadelphia Presbytery Philadelphia, PA
Oct 11-16 Newton Presbytery, New Vernon and Morristown, NJ

On behalf of This Child Here, Alla will travel with Yulia and I to the following:  (contact me for more details)

Oct 18 First Presbyterian Ft Worth, Tx                                                                                       Oct 20-22 First Presbyterian Farmington NM .                                                                           Oct 23-25 Chicago/Michigan City, IN                                                                                         Oct 27-29 First Presbyterian, Cumberland MD
Oct 30,31 Arlington VA

Alla Soroka began her career in Peacemaking in 2005, by working as a pyschologist with the “Restorative Justice” program in the juvenile prison system of Odessa, Ukraine. Later, she was trained in the Quaker Program “Alternatives to Violence,” and became the AVP coordinator for Ukraine. In 2008, she met Robert Gamble and began working for This Child Here with street kids and by designing programs for children in orphanages and shelters.

In 2010, she became Project Manager for This Child Here and her work expanded to training foster families and children, and developing a mentoring program for children in orphanages. When the war began in Ukraine, she began cooperative work with other Ukrainian nonprofit ministries to train youth in peacemaking skills and mindfulness. In 2015, she designed, organized and directed the first annual Peace Camp, “White Sail,” for refugee families displaced by the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The annual camp is sponsored by This Child Here, a ministry in the region of Odessa, Ukraine supported by Presbyterian Churches (PCUSA).

Grace and Peace,

Robert Gamble

Peace Camp 2017 for Refugees of Eastern Ukraine


Peace Camp 2017 for Refugees of Eastern Ukraine

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I love this photo because it is the posture of strength.  Strengthening families one thing we do in our Peace Camp for refugees from the war in Ukraine which is now more than three years old.  From July 18-28, forty four members of refugee families, seven staff members and five volunteers gathered at a retreat center on hill above the Black Sea about an hour east of Odessa, Ukraine.

This is the third annual Peace Camp sponsored by This Child Here. These are refugee families who once had homes and apartments in and around cities like Donetsk and Lugansk and were displaced to the regions of cities like Kharkiv, Zaparosia, Odessa, and Lviv.  Many lost jobs careers, homes, automobiles, family belongings. All lost a way of life and started over.

Alla Soroka, (photo by Oksana Xarkovenko) the Program Manager for This Child Here, is the director of the camp which is only part of the larger collection of programs of This Child Here that includes work with children in shelters and orphanages, training foster families and teaching peacemaking skills and perspectives. This is our eleventh year of work in Ukraine.

Our time together included conversation, guided activities, recreation and free time for families.  Some really great help for camp came from three volunteers from the Czech Republic through a partnership between the Czech Reformed Church in Vsetin there and the First Presbyterian Church of Cumberland, MD.  Folks from the Druid Hills Presbyterian Church in the Atlanta area gave funding. And that’s a longer story.(I’m in the black shirt, Martin to my left, then Anet and Dan to my right).  Below you see the whole group. And in the following set of pictures, you see staff and volunteers, some activities and families who came.

Our staff and volunteers, photo by Oksana Xarkovenko

photo by Oksana Xarkovenko

and below some activities

Some families:

photo by Oksana Xarkovenko

photo by Oksana Xarkovenko

Our view of the sea.

Our Project Manager for This Child Here makes the news…

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Alla Soroka inspired by opportunity to participate in Peacemaking program

by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

Alla Soroka will be traveling the U.S. this fall as a 2017 International Peacemaker. (Photo provided)

LOUISVILLE – Although she never planned it as her life’s vocation, Alla Soroka has been actively working with at-risk children since 2005. She found her passion, and her trust in God, working with teenage prisoners, children and orphans living in the streets of her native Odessa, Ukraine. She will be sharing some of her experiences this fall (Sept. 22 – Oct. 16) traveling to selected Presbyterian churches, universities, and theological institutions in the United States as a 2017 International Peacemaker.

The challenges Ms. Soroka faces in Ukraine have roots that go back nearly a century to her country’s communist heritage. A sovereign state in Eastern Europe, Ukraine is bordered by Russia to the east and saw its territories consolidated into the Soviet Republic in 1922. It gained its independence after the end of the Cold War in 1991, but the communist mindset is still very much alive.

“My country has a difficult past and we’re still dealing with rules established under the Soviet regime,” said Soroka.

“Our way of life is comparable to a wall of bricks. To build a strong wall, all the bricks should be the same. If there is a stone of a different shape, it’s thrown away. People in my country are supposed to submit themselves to the system and be like perfectly structured bricks in order to build the perfect wall. Consequently, those that do, lose their uniqueness and personality.”

Working with kids every day, Soroka sees how the system can harm the entire family structure.

“Quite often I see damaged kids, and many of them have damaged parents. Children who live in orphanages or prisons live in a system that doesn’t address their needs,” she said. “They’re deprived of care, support, and understanding and no one values their importance or uniqueness. I often find that parents are also lost and many have a childish attitude because of their past, where they were also left to fend for themselves.”

Alla Soroka (center), project manager with This Child Here, works with at-risk youth in Odessa, Ukraine. (Photo provided)

Soroka began her career working with the Odessa Regional Mediation Group’s “Restorative Justice” program, focusing on youth in jail. She has a master’s degree in psychology and is trained in the “Alternatives to Violence” program developed by the Quakers, where she served as their Ukraine coordinator and taught nonviolent strategies and communication skills to groups, including incarcerated young men.

For the past 10 years, she’s been on staff at This Child Here, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping orphans and other vulnerable youth in Ukraine, and currently serves as its project manager. This Child Here also designs and funds programs to help at-risk children deal with addiction and self-esteem issues.

She’s expanded her work over the years to include Ukraine’s orphanages, at-risk public school children, and potential foster parents. For the past two years, she’s helped organize a peacemaking and reconciliation camp for families displaced by military conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Summer Camp for Peace creates a resting atmosphere to help participants feel more comfortable and relaxed, features games and craft-making activities and generally provides a joyful, safe environment for families evicted from their homes by war.

“The people in our camps have lost their jobs and homes and are extremely uneasy about adapting to a new place. For parents who are worried about what’s next, it’s hard to concentrate fully on giving their kids the attention they need during this emotional time. Unfortunately, it’s the little ones who are the first to suffer and are most affected by this trauma,” said Soroka.

Soroka is quick to point out the support she’s received from Presbyterians. This Child Here’s executive director, Robert Gamble, is a graduate of Columbia and Princeton seminaries, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He served as an officer in the Coast Guard, and as a mentor to the native Odessan.

“Robert is a person who breathes Christianity and evangelism by putting it into practice, he is not just a theorist. We have the same goals and we’re both empowered by caring for children,” said Soroka. “I think that is a big reason why we’ve succeeded in our mission for the past 10 years. Some of our greatest support for our projects have been financed by Presbyterians, for that we are extremely grateful.”

Alla Soroka (far right), project manager with This Child Here, works with at-risk youth in Odessa, Ukraine. (Photo provided)

In a 2016 blog post describing the history behind This Child Here, Gamble described how Soroka’s skills and contributions benefit the organization and the children it serves.

“Alla takes a personal interest in these children. It’s not just a job,” he said. “What she does professionally is help kids with issues of trust, accountability and responsibility. She gives time to meeting with kids individually and she works with them in groups. These ‘trainings’ as she calls them, are really a full day of interactive and non-competitive games sandwiched between conversations about what kids just did and felt in the activities. It’s intense, well-planned and yet flexible enough to focus on a youth or child who needs it. What happens in the room with these youth and children is really quite remarkable. Most of these kids have never had such an experience of interaction and conversation. They don’t get this kind of learning experience in the standard orphanage.”

For her part, Soroka is humble about her life’s work.

“I don’t think I’m doing something special,” she said. “My work is a regular job that’s part of life. Through it I would like to learn something and I believe God wants to teach me.”

Soroka looks forward to her opportunity this fall as an International Peacemaker with the Presbyterian Church (USA), and believes it’s a truly powerful experience when people from different countries and cultures meet each other and are linked by the same goals and values.

“There is a lot of precious power in peacemaking and God loves it.”


The International Peacemaking Program is made possible by gifts to the Peace and Global Witness Offering.

An Unexpected Opportunity

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This was summer camp (2016) and  I remember this meal.

Just two weeks ago, we committed to help. And right now we need $1500.

For this money, This Child Here can hire two good cooks and two great youth workers working in shifts 🙂 FOR 8 WEEKS.

They will serve under the direction of our Ukrainian partner, The Way Home, in this camp-by-the-sea for 25 kids.


Let’s make this the best camp ever for kids who live in the shelter, The Way Home.








Sometimes the Past Startles and Encourages You

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Hi Robert. At last I have found you. I want to thank you for giving me the high road in life. You saved my life. In 2007, I led a not correct way of life. But I wanted to change my life and turned to you for help, for the money. You helped me, and I lied to you, I spent the money on drugs. Then again I came to you for money, “I would like to go home,” I said but have no money. Then you said to me: “.. I will give you money, but if you spend it again for drugs, we will never be friends ..” I was ashamed. I was full of shame. And I promised you to change my life. You gave me $4 for the ride. My life is worth $4.

Since then, 10 years have passed. I have my own home and family. I have a beautiful wife, I have a favorite son who is 4.5 years. I have a demanding job. I work as the chief of security at a very large company. I enjoy life and I thank you. Maybe you do not remember me, but I will always remember you, and I kept my promise.
With great respect,
(sent via messenger on facebook)
We are back in the states after seven weeks in Odessa. Winter is not really the best time to be in Ukraine. Everything we do, of course, is inside.  With homework and help in many ways, Natasha is our friend, mentor, youth worker and psychologist at The Way Home. We continue to train foster families, to train our people to work with foster families and to prepare for our mentoring program with kids in orphanages, and to plan for our Peace Camp this summer for refugees from the east.
Here is Natasha with kids at The Way Home.
 Max and I chatting with a medical student from India after my talk at the YMCA.
Kids from The Way Home taking website design class.
 A group of foster parents below trained by Arina and Ira.
 Foster Mom to be
Foster Dad talks about roots of destructive motivation: lack of patience, genetics and negative relationships with family of origin.
Our trainer Arina
Our trainer Ira and with Alla
And finally, a scene out the window of our apartment in Odessa, old buildings in the foreground, new in the distance.  Sunrise and sun’s up.
Grace and Peace,
Robert Gamble


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As fighting in eastern Ukraine has increased, the work for peace has strengthened.

Sixteen teens were chosen among hundreds who applied, to gather for three days of intensive Peacemaking Training which was sponsored paid for by the Minor Academy of Sciences in Ukraine.  Our role was in helping to lead it. For that, This Child Here joined staff  from the Quaker Program, Alternatives to Violence and fund in Kiev, Children of Hope.

In the game above, teens do a trust walk blindfolded through a course which includes objects to step over and crawl under.

Unlike most of our programs, these are the kind of youth who come from stable families and rank near the top of their class as people with bright futures. As we continue this kind of training we are building a generation of youth in Ukraine who know how to manage conflict and bring peace to places and times of violence.

Scroll down for the faces of teens and trainers for this event.