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June 9, 2003

U.S. Homeschoolers Help Persecuted Families in Ukraine

Last month, Home School Legal Defense Association sent out an alert asking for homeschool families in the United States to help the homeschoolers in Ukraine. After the Ukrainian embassy reported they received over 1,000 calls and emails, good things began to happen for Ukraine's homeschool families.

Specifically, HSLDA sought to help six, Odessa region, Christian families (the Krivosheev, Petrenko, Boboshko, Smirnikh, Kushnirenko, and Kasyanenko families) who chose to homeschool their children. Proceedings were underway to deprive these families of their parental rights and remove their children from their own homes.

Your calls and emails made the difference for these families. Our source in Ukraine has informed us that the Department of Education in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, wrote a letter to the families stating that their homeschooling is legal and that they are well within the boundaries of what is provided by Ukrainian law. The families say that "it is doubtful that the government would have taken this step without your efforts." The homeschoolers, who all live in the village of Shevchenko, are committed to educating their children at home and now they can do it with the federal government's backing. This makes their position clearly stronger, although local authorities have not apologized.

Andrew Okhotin, of the Russian Evangelistic Ministries, has traveled to Moscow and Ukraine to investigate the situation first hand. After hearing the results, he stated: "The Lord used the prayers and petitions of the families in the Home School Legal Defense Association membership to stop what was clearly becoming a dangerous situation which could have set tragic precedent. Thank you once again for your assistance and for lending a helping hand to the families who were clearly in need and in danger. May the Lord reward and bless those who answered the call."

Although the cases have not officially been closed, they are not actively being pursued and no fines have been levied. Ukraine homeschoolers believe that there is no doubt the heat has been removed since the local authorities have come under the scrutiny of the federal government in Kiev. Andrew Okhotin explained to us that during one of the incidents when one of the local school officials was speaking to the families, she "pulled out a number of copies of letters and faxes and asked when the petitions will stop." The Ukraine embassy had been forwarding them all to the local authorities.

We are thankful that the government of Ukraine has confirmed the legality of homeschooling and hope to help establish a national Ukrainian homeschool association soon. At present, Andrew Okhotin is willing to serve as HSLDA's main contact as he regularly travels between the United States and the Russian and Ukrainian regions.

 Other Resources

Ukrainian Homeschoolers Desperately Need Our Help