Vika - a seventeen year-old Ukrainian orphan with fiery red hair, bright blue eyes and an everlasting laugh - is setting out into the world for the very first time, all alone. Vika is the story of her final year at a rural boarding school in Eastern Ukraine. It’s also the story of the bond she fights to maintain with her 10 year-old sister, Arina. Arina was adopted by a family in Toronto four years ago, during the Ukrainian revolution. Arina has a blissful childhood, with a family in Toronto offering her guidance, unconditional love and the types of opportunities Vika never had. Vika, meanwhile, is stepping out into the world as an adult for the first time, moving to another city and leaving behind the only support she's ever known. Vika hasn't seen Arina since she left Ukraine, but her ultimate goal is to one day reunite with her sister - the only family she has left - and start a life in Canada. Reuniting the girls has always been the plan for Arina’s adoptive mother Alena, herself a Ukrainian immigrant to Canada. When she and her husband Slava made the decision to adopt, the sisters were already separated: Vika was put in a boarding school while her mother was alive; Arina was put in foster care after their mother’s death. Alena and Slava only met Vika later; they wanted to bring her to Toronto, but as a family of limited means, supporting both girls was impossible. Before Vika can move to Canada, she’ll need to navigate the troublesome waters of life on her own, in a country where orphans are disproportionately abused, neglected and brutally stigmatised by society. As few as five percent of Ukrainian orphans make a successful transition to adult life. The majority fall victim to poverty, drugs, alcohol, crime, trafficking and suicide. Vika has a real chance to break the mold, but it’s up to her to do it all alone.

Similar to this: