Canadian generosity provides Ukrainian girls with hope

Dianne St. Jean
Mayor Jeannette Townsend with some of the girls from the orphanage. “The most memorable experience in Ukraine was meeting the girls at the Maple Leaf Centre.”
Mayor Jeannette Townsend with some of the girls from the orphanage. “The most memorable experience in Ukraine was meeting the girls at the Maple Leaf Centre.”

Recently Valemount Mayor Jeannette Townsend travelled to Ukraine where she visited the Maple Leaf Centre and orphanage, named after the generosity of Canadian sponsors.

The centre acts as a shelter for young girls who have been rescued from the streets and the clutches of human traffickers.

According to statistics, young white (Caucasian) girls are the largest group targeted by human and sex-slave traffickers; and, as deplorable as it sounds, and as much as we don’t want to hear it, the current most sought-after age is eight years old.

The girls are housed at the orphanage and attend a local school, where staff escorts them to and from the school.

The rescuing of victims from traffickers is a cause close to the Mayor’s heart. Townsend, herself of Ukrainian descent, says, “The most memorable experience in Ukraine was meeting the girls at the Maple Leaf Centre.”

Townsend brought gifts from herself and others to the girls and staff during her visit.

She adds, “Rescued from squalor and other severely abnormal conditions, it was deeply moving to see each uniquely special girl blossoming and thriving under the professional and loving care of the Director and her staff. From a bleak future involving human trafficking potential, the eleven girls, aged six to 14, are now blessed with a bright and happy future that beckons with opportunity for rewarding years ahead.”

Human trafficking remains the largest global criminal activity, exceeding that of drug trafficking. 

The girls at the centre pitching in to make perogies, a favourite for everyone.
The girls at the centre pitching in to make perogies, a favourite for everyone.

Girls from the Maple Leaf centre, adorned with traditional Ukrainian flower headbands, performed songs for the visitors.
Girls from the Maple Leaf centre, adorned with traditional Ukrainian flower headbands, performed songs for the visitors.