If you have made another person on this earth smile,
your life has been worthwhile.
-Sr. Mary Christelle Macaluso 
Graduate Assistance Program - Mykolaivka

Please note: Given the uncertainty in Eastern Ukraine the Graduate Assistance Program (GAP) described  below for former Mykolaivka Internat students has been put on hold indefinitely.   An Orphan Smiles is still working with in-country personnel on an ongoing basis to support these vocational students, but we cannot offer a formal individual sponsorship program at this time

If you have a question regarding the vocational program/students in Ukraine, please contact Leslie, our Myko Internat liaison. 


An Orphan Smiles is pleased to provide an avenue of hope and relief for many older orphaned children who have or will age out of the orphanage system. 


Mykolaivka Internat is a “boarding school for orphans”, ages 7 through 18 years. The majority of these children have been orphaned due to circumstances of economic poverty and/or the death of their parents. There are approximately 135 children who live and are educated at this institution.

The location of this orphanage is in Nikolaevka, Donetsk, which is in Eastern rural Ukraine near the Russian border.   It is approximately ten hours away by train from Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city.   The nearest town is Kramatorsk, a 45 minute drive away.

Mykolaivka Internat is a special needs orphanage.  Many children who live and attend school at Mykolaivka typically score lower than average on placement tests and often struggle academically.

Upon completion of 9th Class, the children formally “graduate” from the orphanage educational system. Many of the children are encouraged to stay for 10th Class, remaining at the orphanage one additional year, while others will leave for vocational school. Those leaving attend summer camp after graduation and then start vocational training in September.  On average, the students are 17 years old when they leave the orphanage.


Ukrainian government supported vocational programs are available to all children who age-out of the orphanage system.    The government provides dormitory style housing, food, and a monthly stipend for the student’s living expenses.  However, the monthly stipend is not enough to pay for essential items such as hygiene items, school supplies, and clothing.   There is also a growing concern that the government will no longer be able to provide students their funding.  There have been cuts to many government sponsored programs in the past year.

An Orphan Smiles has developed the GAP program for children leaving the orphanage.  GAP stands for Graduate Assistance Program.


 Program Objectives:

  • Find a sponsor for each child who is leaving for vocational school. 
  • Maintain sponsorship for each grad for the duration of his or her vocational training.  Government operated vocational programs run from one to four years.  Myko students typically are enrolled in programs that last two or three years. 
  • Provide supplemental food and other basic necessities.
  • Provide the feeling that someone cares about them and their future.


Program Details:

Sponsorship consists of $25.00 per month 


Check Donation:

Mail your check to (in memo field please enter Graduate's name):
An Orphan Smiles, Inc.
PO Box 175
Kimberton, PA 19442-0175

Paypal Donation:

(To set up a recurring payment for your student - $25.87 via paypal USD or $26.14 via paypal non-USD)


Donation Amount:
Number of:
Graduate name:

Click here to visit our Donation Page to make a one time GAP Paypal payment or to help with other programs.



An Orphan Smiles operates this program in conjunction with orphanage staff at Myko and with the Graduate Support Center in Kiev. The orphanage staff provides assistance with letter and parcel distribution, email communication with An Orphan Smiles program coordinators, and periodic updates and photos if the students dorm6come back to the orphanage for visits.

Information about the grads will be provided as received by orphanage staff or as provided through letters from the students themselves.  Sponsors need to be aware that these children are not well educated and letter writing does not come easily nor will contain a great deal of information.  Some letters are extremely difficult to be translated as a result of poor handwriting or grammar.  And in some cases, very little information will be available for certain students.   Sponsors need to be aware that feedback is not a guarantee of the GAP program. 

New to this year’s program – The $25 monthly stipend will not be given directly to the student as in years’ past.  Due to the political unrest in the region and the uncertainty of food supplies and other necessities, An Orphan Smiles will provide students supplemental food, hygiene items and other urgent needs.  Many needs are simply not available in the region for the students to purchase.   The Graduate Support Center in Kiev will arrange regular shipment of supplies to the vocational schools.  An Orphan Smiles will also supplement in-country purchases with shipments from the US.  



Letter writing is such an integral part of this program. The students yearn for this type of interaction with their sponsors who provide them with a tremendous amount of needed encouragement and friendship. We encourage our sponsors to write as often as they wish. An Orphan Smiles has a Translation Team who will translate sponsor’s letters. If students write to sponsors, we will gladly translate their letters which will be emailed directly to the sponsor after translation.

Click here to view helpful guidelines about writing letters for translation to your sponsored child.

Sponsors can send translation request directly to our Translation Request Center at:


On average, each translation request will take seven days for completion, and will be emailed back to the sponsor.


Care Packages:

Sending parcels is not a requirement of the Graduate Assistance Program. 

However, if sponsors would like to send their student a care package, here is what is recommended.

Keep it simple, lightweight, and affordable:  school supplies, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, bath towel, washcloth, underwear, dark socks, lip balm, deodorant, (hygiene items, in general), non-perishable snacks (granola bars, raisins and other dried fruit, etc).  For female students please include in each package feminine hygiene products.



We recommend for a sponsor who is able to send a parcel to send as a priority winter items like gloves, warm socks, a jacket and boots rather than everyday clothing.  For those that cannot send a parcel, a donation can be made for your student to buy these items specifically. 

Also, for these older teenagers, based on experience, it is usually better to send small monetary gifts as a Birthday or Christmas gift and have them buy themselves what they need most rather than to ship everyday clothing like pants, shoes or a sweater.  

If you have questions about this program or would like to sponsor a graduate, please contact our GAP Myko Coordinator.