SWISHER, Iowa — Eleven Ukrainian orphans and nine volunteers from Alabama are spending the weekend in Eastern Iowa. Today, the group was at Miracles in Motion, a therapeutic horseback riding organization.
The Alabama based group that brings the kids to the U.S. is called Bridges of Faith. They partnered with Kalona Christian Fellowship to bring the kids to Eastern Iowa to experience Midwest culture for a weekend.
“We looked for different events that they could be exposed to,” said Jerry Rediger, a volunteer from Kalona Christian Fellowship. “I had a crossing with the staff at Miracles in Motion and they welcomed us out here.”
The kids, all under 18 years old, learned how to ride a horse for the first time.
But organizers said there’s a bigger mission behind the trip.
“This is important to us because of the forever families that these kids find,” Rediger said. “They come here from a pretty hopeless setting out of orphanages, and we’ve seen the success rate. Most of these kids find up finding forever homes.”
Leaders from Bridges of Faith said 14 groups, or roughly 150 kids, have come to Alabama as a part of the cultural exchange. And while they’re not an adoption agency, they’ve connected half of those children with families that ultimately chose to adopt. And even more are pending finalization.
“It’s a very satisfying experience,” Rediger said.
Bridges of Faith now plans to make the trip to Eastern Iowa with a new group of kids each year.
On Sunday, August 24th, at 3 p.m. Kalona Christian Fellowship will hold an open house for families to come meet the children.