History of the Trade School

John and Evelyn Wiens came to Ukraine as missionaries after he retired as a Canadian Mennonite Brethren pastor. John grew up as a Saskatchewan farm boy with his brothers, who still farm there. They settled in the city of Zaporozhye, or Zap, as John called it. There he founded a church called New Hope, and started working with orphans through New Hope Center. He had real heart for the disenfranchised members of society, the orphans, the alcoholics on the edge of society. One night he woke up from a vivid dream of a trade school for aged-out orphans (those who leave the orphanages at 16 to attend trade school or university)  where they would learn life skills and live in family settings instead of staying in dormitories like those in state schools along with a productive trade. There would be a farm to support the school that the students could do work study at.  John could even describe the buildings and a pond in the village where the school was in the dream.

John and Ev met missionaries and Manitoba dairy farmers Garry and Teresa Verhoog in the village of Nikolipolia in the fall of 2009 and he talked to Garry about the school and asked him to help set up and manage the dairy farm he saw as the center of this program. When the original site didn’t work out, Nikoliapolia (Mikoli-Polye in Ukrainian) became the site for the trade school.

After a few years of fundraising (and founding CRMF) and going through Ukrainian government channels, the trade school opened to the first class of nine students in the fall of 2012, with official government status as a school, two group homes and a large staff, supervised by New Hope Center. Opening day was a big deal that year, with government officials attending. The following June, we graduated seven students with official government certificates as cattle herders. Some of the students became Christians and John baptized one of the girls in July 2013. However. the program was too expensive to continue in its present form, so it was extensively retooled that fall while John was in Canada and the US fundraising to finish the dairy barn renovation so the school could become self-sustaining.

John was diagnosed with cancer while home in BC in November that year. Our dear friend and founder of New Hope Center, John Wiens, entered into glory early January 2014 to join the celebration that was being prepared for him in heaven. We are still mourning his loss and will strive to carry his legacy of love, faithfulness, and Hope to the ‘least of these’ he left behind in Ukraine.