On the first day of letter writing....


Vanya’s sister, Allie, shared with us his life story. She wrote:

“Vanya was born in Moscow, Russia with a very rare genetic disorder called Goldenhar syndrome–a congenital defect characterized by incomplete development of the ear, nose, soft palate, and lip. Essentially, Vanya was born with one eye, one ear, and a cleft palate. His parents left him on the doorstep of an orphanage in Russia, but at the age of seven, Vanya came to stay with my family. At this point he had already lived with two other foster families in California and had had twenty-seven surgeries to construct the left side of his face–ranging from creating an ear using parts of his rib and an eyelid using a skingraft from his leg.

One thing I have always admired about Vanya is his positive spirit and amazingly contagious energy. He never complained about his situation or whined about the cards that he was dealt in life. Sadly, today Vanya is struggling a bit with his confidence and motivation. He is now in his early 20s and has reached an age where many of his friends have gone off to college and started pursuing a career path as well as romantic relationships–two things that he is unsure will be in his future.

From a young age Vanya has wanted to become a fireman, but recently he stopped pursuing that dream and has picked up a bad habit of drinking when he feels sad and alone. He wants nothing more than to love and be loved, but the current social media driven world is very image-focused. While his confidence was through the roof during his younger years, recently it has dipped as he has tried to explore the dating world.

What Vanya needs right now is love and support, as well as a reminder that he can do anything that he puts his mind to. He can be a fireman if he wants and he will find someone that loves him, but these things are not going to happen without a little effort on his part. He needs to get out there and pursue them!”

Please join us in encouraging Vanya during this holiday season.


Vanya’s bundle

℅ Allie B.

109 Regent Street

Chippendale, NSW 2008