Inside the Story: Life-changing experience leads woman to helping save kids without a home

Inside the Story: Life-changing experience leads woman to helping save kids without a home (Photo provided by Deborah Dushku Brailsford)

(KUTV) A woman in a small, northern Utah town is helping to save the lives of thousands of kids in another part of the world.

Deborah Dushku Brailsford runs One Heart Bulgaria.

The non-profit's mission is to help children without a home in Bulgaria. Right now, they are providing humanitarian aid to 28 different orphanages in the country.

"Our purpose with One Heart Bulgaria is to love those children and give them something, because no one else is going to give it to them," Brailsford said.

The group likes to make sure older kids get a lot of love too, especially since time is running out for them to get adopted.

"By the time they are teenagers they are really feeling discouraged, depressed, and unloved, and like their life doesn't mean anything," she said.

It all started for Brailsford in the 90s, when she was a missionary for the LDS church in Bulgaria. She went into an orphanage and what she saw changed her life.

"All these little kids came running up to me crying 'mama, mama' and it broke my heart."

Years later after starting her own family, Brailsford met up with a former mission companion and the two started One Heart Bulgaria.

They provide humanitarian supplies like blankets, diapers and medicine. But it's about more than that.

"We don't want to just sustain their lives, we want to give them a life," Brailsford said. "We want to give them some joy in their lives."

They provide activities like karate, singing and dancing instruction, and other educational opportunities.

They even supply a surrogate grandmother for the kids.

"They love them, they read to them, they hold them. Particularly the kids with special needs," she said.

Each time Brailsford visits, she can see the efforts are working. She recalls one time where the children were dancing around and singing.

"They learned all these songs that this teacher we provided taught them, and I just started crying," she said.

One Heart Bulgaria is planning another one of its medical missions for the second week of June.

If you would like to help out with donations or supplies, visit the One Heart Bulgaria website.