Why was NASHI formed?
These are the realities of HUman Trafficking today. NASHI believes that it can best be combatted by helping to prevent the trafficking from occurring. We do this by raising awareness locally, through forums, presentations and publications. We have also built and operate a Safe House in Ukraine where children are at great risk of being trafficked directly from orphanages, as well as through false job recruitment and outright seizure off the streets. Human Trafficking can be defeated if we DO SOMETHING!
The NASHI Story
During trips to Ukraine in the early 2000's, co-founder Savelia was shocked to see how common it was to see young girls servicing men at truck stops and gas stations across the country. She also observed girls being loaded into trucks for delivery to slave markets in Turkey. In 2004, Savelia and friend and co-founder Betti, read the book The Natasha's by Victor Malarek and travelled to Edmonton to here him present the hard truths of Human Trafficking. They both decided to try and Do Something and gathered some friends around the kitchen table. From those first 7 people NASHI was born. The name was chosen because it means OUR in Ukrianian. The children needed OUR assistance and so it would OUR responsibility and OUR commitment to do something for them.
Over the next 3 years, NASHI grew and began it's work both at home and in Ukraine.
Recognising the need for a live in facility, the search for an appropriate property in Ukraine began in 2008. Charitable status was registered in Ukraine under Klenovi Lyst (aka Maple Leaf Centre Project). In Canada, NASHI was invited to make presentations at the Human Trafficking Seminar in Edmonton and to HART (Humanitarian Aid Response Team) in Calgary. In addition, within the RCMP a new branch was formed to deal with human trafficking issues. Hearing of the work undertaken by NASHI, they reached out for assistance. Cst. Elsen Sutherland, Immigration & Passport Section - Human Trafficking Division, was our contact within the RCMP. He accepted our invitation to be our guest speaker at the Fall Harvest Brunch. It was at this time when we decided to focus our efforts on prevention versus treatment as a result of being trafficked.
Due to successful fund-raising activities, ground breaking occurred at the Maple Leaf Centre Project in 2009. The existing building, a former kindergarten, in the viilage of Stoyaniw, was gutted down to it's brick foundation and walls and rebuilt. It was a slow process with the pace of reconstruction determined by fundraising efforts in Canada. Utilizing local workers and materials, the project was an economic boost to the community. The building quality exceeds all codes and was inspected thoroughly during construction. During the rebuild, several volunteer groups from Canada were on site to assist with some of the manual labour and to see the project in action.
In 2010, the Malarek’s, Victor with daughter Larissa, convinced OMNI, an International television production company, to agree to the production of a full-length documentary about NASHI. The documentary required travel to Ukraine; the film crew also attended Perogy Paradise interviewing volunteers and attendees. “One Perogy at a Time” is still being viewed worldwide including Mexico & India on the OMNI television network and has been released to other television networks as well. It can be viewed on YouTube. Additional fundraising events were held and requests for speaking engagements increased.
During this time NASHI continued to be involved in national awareness campaigns by hosting the Saskatchewan portion of the Freedom Relay Canada. In 2012 NASHI hosted “Youth Unchained”. This forum on human trafficking, with guest speaker Craig Kielburger founder of Free the Children, saw an amazingly 1100 students from across the province attend this two day event. This sparked the attention of the young people in attendance. Victor Malarek was back in November as guest speaker at “Hot Chilli, Hot Topic”. It was also the year we started promoting ‘Fair Trade’ purchasing. Victims of human trafficking, who are primarily children, are used in the production of items that we use in our day-to-day purchases. NASHI was invited by FBI-NAA Foundation to participate in an international law enforcement summit, “Together Let’s Stop Traffick”. The objective was to develop a framework and implementation of a borderless resource centre for the benefit of all nations.
At an October 2013 Saskatchewan Roughrider game Savelia was recognized for demonstrating leadership with NASHI making it to the final stage of the Scotiabank ‘Game Changers’ competition. At the Maple Leaf Centre, inside renovations were completed, landscaping was done and the garage and power house were built. Although the facility was near completion, the targets of traffickers were changing. NASHI had envisioned the Maple Leaf Centre as a place for girls exiting the state orphange system to learn life skills and further education. However, the targets of the traffickers were more and more, younger girls of 8 to 12 years old. We now had to change our format, staff requirements and facilities to accomodate younger girls for longer periods of time. It took some time to make those adjustments.
In 2014 NASHI hosted the Ugly Truth Forum bringing together like-minded individuals to hear key-note speaker Timea Nagy, founder of Walk With Me, speak about what it was like to survive being trafficked. We continued our involvement with the FBI-NAA (National Academy Associates) Foundation, where we shared our knowledge with them.
Finally in 2015 , with the bricks & mortar phase completed and staff on hand, the girls began to arrive! Some are transfered from orphanages were they were being systematically abused in preparation for sale, some directly from the streets. For many, this is their first experience of a family environment where they are nourished emotionally and physically. It takes time, love and the hard work of dedicated child welfare experts to integrate a new girl into our home. Whenever possible, we kept sisters together. The girls attend school in the village and have friends outside of our centre. The Maple Leaf Centre is a home, not a private orphange. Community involvment and interaction is encouraged and local children are always found on our grounds, playing in a safe environment.
NASHI continues to be completely volunteer based, with no salaried employees or directors. All the work is done by a Board of Directors of 9 people, plus a core of under 200 members and volunteers. As the Maple Leafe Centre grows to it's capacity of 20 girls, we continue fundraising to cover the operating and maintenance costs, as well as to provide post-secondary education for the girls. Just like our own children, these are our responsibility until they are employed and able to care for themselves. We have girls ranging from 5 to 13 years old, so some will be with our responsibility for more than 15 years. The annual Perogy Paradise will continue to act as our main fund raising event, with 40% of the proceeds covering our operating expenses. The remaining 60% of proceeds and 100% of all donations continue to be directed to our projects. Sustainability via monthly giving initiatives need your involvement.
"Everyone on this fragile planet has the capacity to reach out and touch the soul of someone less fortunate. If everyone did this, what an amazing world it would be. NASHI, and its devoted coterie of volunteers, have taken on a daunting task with a deep sense of mission and driving spirit. From Saskatoon, all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to Lviv, Ukraine, NASHI makes an incredible difference in the lives of so many abandoned orphans in Ukraine. They are to be commended for their work and their selfless dedication."