The concept of the Maple Leaf (Klenovi Lyst) Centre was conceived in 2008. At that time NASHI was operating a trade school in Lviv, Ukraine to teach life skills and trades to girls recently released from the orphange system. We quickly realized that while education is critical, these girls had no where to live. NASHI began the search for a suitable property to adapt into a home for these girls, aged 15-17, while they were prepared for life outside the orphanges.
After a 6 month search, a suitable property was found in the village of Stoyaniw, north of Lviv. The building was an abandoned kindergarten that had been vacant for many years. A local general contractor was hired along with skilled local workers. Overgrowth and excess trees were cleared and interior demolition began. This was a long process which involved taking the structure down to bare brick and completely rebuilding the plumbing and wiring for the building. New flooring had to be poured and some interior structue replaced. The facility has dual heat sources with a boiler system that can utilize either natural gas or wood.
Contruction took several years and progressed as funding through donations and NASHI events became available. The result is a 13,000 square foot home with kitchen and dining areas, offices, laundry facilities, classrooms, common areas for socializing and play, bedrooms for 20 girls and 5 full bathrooms. There are two walls in the dining area decorated with maple leaf plaques showcasing the names of those who contributed to that initial construction and supported NASHI throughout.
In the yard of the new Maple Leafe Centre is a young maple tree, planted during the ground breaking in 2009. It is a symbol of hope for those who will pass through this centre on their journey to a new life, free from abuse and exploitation.
Although the location was near perfect, the building needed to be completely gutted and rebuilt.
In order to build the rooms required, we raised the flat roof to create a 3rd floor with dormers. A local brick factory was re-opened to provide materials.
Several vounteer tours went to the project to provide labour. Here, some volunteers are removing old plaster and tile from the core interior brick walls.
The refurbished building is stylish and functional. The fence keeps local livestock out but the gate is open to local children who play there every day.
Girls share a room with one other girl, usually a sister. This compares to 12-20 in a room at the state run orphanges. They decorate their rooms with art work and love the animal print bedding.
In a very short time these girls go from desperation, wondering where the next meal will come from, to hope and plans for the future and career choices. The change is remarkable and so gratifying to witness.