Samaritan Ministries in Ukraine


As Samaritan Ministries in Ukraine continues to change, grow and expand, we say hello and goodbye to three staff members: – Katiya Lavrenchuk , Zoya Kosareva, and Dequan Zhu.

Katiya Lavrenchuk is a familiar face at SMU because, as a teen, she attended SMU youth camps and classes. (Three years ago, we featured her story in a newsletter: ). Katiya rose to a leadership role within the teen program, having been mentored by Nadiya Siryk, Director of the SMU Training Center in Pulin. Katiya went on to earn a teaching degree and now, as part of her role with SMU, is teaching children and teens herself!

A full-time staff member, Katiya wears many hats. Not only does she work with teens and children developing the strengths, needs, and values of participants, she also works with the Widow’s Project, and provides administrative support for Alex, Vika, and Nadiya. She gets to use her creativity and love of art in many roles.

“Katiya is a hard and enthusiastic worker,” said Nadiya. “She rises to the challenge of learning to do new things at SMU. I don’t know how we functioned without her.”

“I am so glad to be part of the SMU team,” added Katiya.

After years of studying and then teaching psychology at the university level, Zoya Kosareva has joined the Life Skills Center as a part-time counselor. Her interest in psychology grew out of her desire to learn more about the motives, behaviors, and emotions of herself and other people.

“Zoya is highly motivated to see the lives of others changed,” said Life Skills Center Director Vika Brzhezytskaya. “We are thrilled to have her join our Center so that we can meet the needs of an increasing number of clients.”

Not only is Zoya providing individual therapy, she is also educating the public on mental health issues, and will be offering classes on anxiety, resilency, and other topics as needed.

“It is fulfilling when I see the results of my work. Counseling is not only helping people with different mental health problems,” said Zoya, “but it is also seeing lives and families transformed by God’s love as we give hope to the hopeless.”

As a community development volunteer through Peace Corps, Dequan Zhu has led a language club; helped with SMU camps; and worked in the areas of volunteer and leadership development.

“I think his biggest impact to the community is his loving and caring spirit. He is always humble and ready to help,” said Nadiya. “I have enjoyed working with him and I know the teens will miss him very much.”

Dequan was born in China but his family moved to the US when he was ten. It was difficult not knowing English and he was often bullied for being different.

“Fortunately,” said Dequan, “I met some great people who unselfishly helped me and made me into who I am today. I wanted to pass on their goodness to others.”

“SMU is something special,” Dequan continued. “It teaches people about helping unselfishly. By giving to others, you also benefit. By seeing how SMU is impacting the communities they work with, it strengthens my will to take on my share of responsibility of carrying out the Samaritan mission.”

“Dequan is a good example of the Samaritan way of living,” said Nadiya. “We will miss him.”