Ukraine Moldova Aid, Inc was founded in 2009 by Elena Barlow. Elena's life story is truly one of triumph over tragedy.
From impoverished beginnings growing up in an orphanage in the Republic of Moldova — forced to live under deplorable conditions — to being fortunate enough to be adopted at age 16 by an American family in Arizona, Elena has worked hard to achieve the American dream. She learned English and attended college, earning both an undergraduate degree in Finance and a Masters in Real Estate Development. She paid off her student loans right after graduation using the real estate skills she learned to buy and flip a home, worked as a senior analyst at Goldman Sachs for three and half years, and worked as a director of asset management at a real estate company that develops assisted living communities. In 2021, Elena founded a real estate brokerage, Baya Weaver Realty, and currently works on residential and commercial deals as a licensed principal broker in Utah. Grateful for her American family and the opportunities seized since coming here, Elena could never forget the years spent as an orphaned child in Moldova. After Elena’s mother died, she learned first-hand what it feels like to live without life’s most basic necessities. From age eight to sixteen, she slept in a room with 19 other girls. There was little food; she was always hungry. With no running hot water, she showered in a bucket and washed what few clothes she ever had by hand. She had one pair of shoes, and very few personal possessions. Elena considers herself one of the lucky ones. She was the last child adopted from that orphanage; adoptions shut down soon after she left. Moldova is now closing orphanages to transition into family and community-based care. Vowing that no child should have to endure the same hardships she experienced, Elena has been passionately committed to helping needy people in Moldova since her first year of college. At age 18, she traveled to an orphanage there carrying suitcases filled with games and clothing. Her friends and family pitched in soon after, collecting boxes and boxes of clothing, school supplies, games, and more. Her college apartment soon filled with generous donations, and Elena worked for six months — while still a full-time student to ship all the boxes to the orphanage. With donations ever-increasing, she realized she needed more space and a better, less expensive way to get everything to Moldova. She rented a warehouse, looked into the cost of getting a shipping container, and officially started her charity, Ukraine Moldova Aid, Inc. For the past fourteen years, as donations have continued to pour in from individuals, groups, charities, and companies, Elena has been able to fill a 40-foot container every year. She was not only helping her chosen orphanages, but a nursing home, institutions for disabled individuals, and an animal rescue group. Located about four hours away from Chișinău, the capital of Moldova, Elena found a nursing home in desperate need of medical supplies. They had one wheelchair for thirty people. Elena was able to get a company in North Carolina to donate a substantial number of new wheelchairs, hospital beds and mattresses, and other medical supplies. Due to shipment chain disruptions in Eastern Europe, cost increase of shipping, gas and containers, shipment projects were temporarily put on hold. Currently, the main focus of the organization is to raise money and to provide immediate humanitarian aid in Moldova. The animal shelters she is helping in Moldova currently feeds and cares for hundreds of stray animals. Elena adopted three of them when she first visited the facilities. It took six months for the paperwork to be processed, and the dogs spent 33 hours in crates traveling to America, but they are happily living with her now. Elena continually works at building relationships with various charities, organizations, groups, and companies to get needed supplies.
From Challenging Upbringing to Charitable Co-Founder: The Story of Olea Christensen
Olea Christinsen, co-founder of Ukraine Moldova Aid, Inc, is the middle child of seven siblings who grew up in a one-bedroom apartment in Moldova with eight other people and an abusive grandmother. Olea's challenging upbringing taught her how to be strong and stand up for herself. She did not have the luxury of family dinners, hugs, or words of encouragement, but had to focus on survival. At the age of nine, Olea was placed in an orphanage and felt lonely and different. However, she met Elena Barlow and they became like a soul sisters, sharing the same dreams and passion. Olea received a student visa at the age of 18 to study in the United States, where she learned English and graduated with scholarships and honors from a business college in Utah. During her college years, Olea worked on the graveyard shift at her first IT job while raising a newborn baby. Olea's greatest achievement is her family, which includes a sweet and beautiful daughter, three smart stepchildren, and a supportive husband who is also her best friend. Despite coming from a big family where love and happiness were scarce, Olea now experiences both in abundance. Olea has been working in the IT industry for the past eight years, with her current job at Netflix, where she enjoys the entertainment work environment. Olea's passion is to help families feel ordinary and content, particularly children who have dreams of feeling special and loved. Together with Elena, she co-founded Ukraine Moldova Aid, Inc charity organization to raise funds for various causes and projects and visit multiple orphanages, hospitals, nursing homes, and animal shelters in Moldova to offer their assistance. Moldova is known as the poorest country in Europe, and Olea and Elena have dedicated hundreds of hours to organizing new projects and delivering goods to families in need. They encourage everyone to open their hearts and donate to a child, family, or animal that has a dream, and to become part of making that dream a reality.
Unyielding Dreams: The Inspiring Journey of Vladimir Rebeja, Entrepreneur and Founder of FC Real Sireți
Vladimir Rebeja, an ambitious and determined individual, leads "VORC QUALITY SERVICES LLC," a telecommunications company based in the USA, and is the founder of FC REAL SIRETI youth soccer club in Moldova. Vladimir's life showcases a tale of courage and perseverance driven by his unwavering pursuit of dreams. Fourteen years ago, at the age of 21, Vladimir made the bold decision to leave his homeland and seek better opportunities in America. Initially, he took on menial jobs, learning and adapting to his new environment along the way. In 2012, Vladimir began his telecommunications career in the USA, steadily progressing through the industry by working in various companies. Starting from humble positions, he gradually advanced to the role of "Construction Quality and Standards’ Inspector." Through his field experience, Vladimir developed a deep appreciation for meticulous attention to detail, quality work, and ambitious goals. In 2018, Vladimir Rebeja's life underwent a radical transformation when he fearlessly established his own telecommunications company, "Vorc Quality Services LLC." It proved to be a formidable entrepreneurial challenge, characterized by sleepless nights and relentless efforts. Vladimir's unwavering commitment and tireless work ethic strengthened his path to success. Today, Vladimir takes great pride in his flourishing business. Nevertheless, his love for his birthplace remained steadfast, with the village of Sireti in the Republic of Moldova always residing within his heart. His longing for home and a desire to contribute to the community motivated him to invest in the future of children. Thus, he founded FC Real Sireți soccer club dedicated to supporting, developing, and motivating young athletes. Through this club, Vladimir Rebeja offers the children of Sireti a chance to cultivate their soccer skills while providing opportunities for personal and professional growth. Vladimir stands as an exceptional role model of success and altruism. His endeavors aim to inspire young footballers and contribute to the progress of his birth community. FC REAL SIRETI represents the realization of his unwavering vision and commitment, providing children with the means to pursue their dreams within a supportive and inspiring environment. Already, over 130 enthusiastic children, including boys and girls as young as six years old, have joined the soccer club, igniting a vibrant spirit within FC REAL SIRETI. Vladimir's dedication to his business and his soccer club has not gone unnoticed. FC REAL SIRETI has gained recognition both locally and nationally for its commitment to nurturing young talent and promoting sportsmanship. The club has participated in numerous tournaments and friendly matches, showcasing the skills and teamwork instilled by Vladimir and his coaching staff. Vladimir's background in construction has also played a significant role in the development and improvement of the club's facilities. With his expertise, he oversaw the construction and expansion of the club's training grounds, ensuring that the young athletes have access to top-notch facilities for their training sessions and matches. Beyond his professional and sporting achievements, Vladimir remains actively involved in philanthropic endeavors. He frequently organizes community events to support underprivileged children in his birthplace and provide them with opportunities to pursue their dreams, regardless of their financial circumstances. Vladimir Rebeja's journey is a testament to the power of determination, hard work, and the pursuit of dreams. Through his successful telecommunications company and the establishment of FC REAL SIRETI, he continues to make a lasting impact on the lives of children, empowering them to reach their full potential and fostering a sense of community pride.