By Ellen Brown
Alex Morozov’s personal philosophy is simple.
“I’m always telling my kids I like to go to bed and sleep well knowing I’ve done everything right,” he said.
Morozov grew up in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. His programming work, related to the Chernobyl disaster, prompted an invitation from the U.S. to do similar work here. He left Ukraine in 1993. After work with federal and state governments, in 2005 he founded Swan Software Solutions in Carmel.
Morozov still has a heart for Ukraine and its people. Swan has five offices there.
“We feel good helping the Ukrainian economy, (and) helping the local economy,” he said. “We have local employees and we have developers in Ukraine.”
Several nonprofits connect the Indianapolis area to Ukraine. One organization, Last Bell Ministries, provides mentorship and practical help to orphanage graduates: Youth who’ve aged out of orphanages without support. When Morozov heard about Last Bell, he knew immediately he wanted to help.
Swan’s Ukraine offices donated several computers for Last Bell’s Day Center.
“By nature, with our business, we have some aging computers, so they might not be top niche for development, but they’re still good for kids to learn how to program,” Morozov said.
Last Bell Director Andrey Pankyeyev said one of the donated computers is in the teacher’s room and three more are in a computer lab.
“Young people use the computers for lessons the Swan specialists teach and for homework that requires them to go online and search for information,” Pankyeyev said.
In Ukraine, many teen orphans have little chance to succeed. Beyond their personal heartache, they’re culturally ostracized and often behind academically, so they struggle to find housing and work. Corruption often eats up the help intended for orphans.
“The war against corruption is much more serious than even the war with Russia,” Morozov said.
Many orphaned youth end up in prison or exploitative situations. Accurate statistics are scarce in Ukraine, but NGO experience suggests that 10 percent of orphanage graduates take their own lives before age 18.
Morozov sees computer programming as an opportunity not to be missed.
“(Orphanage graduates) don’t have much choice,” he said. “They don’t have any special skills. (City trade schools) train them in the building industry and the car-fixing industry, but we can give them more potential. Software engineering allows you to grow professionally, to work with American businesses, opens doors to go work in other countries. That’s a very different kind of life.”
Pankyeyev affirmed that idea.
“We want to help our youth be ready for changes in the world around them, especially when we realize that almost nobody’s interested in their ‘sweet spots’ and developing what they’re really good at,” he said.
After basic computer skills are mastered, Pankyeyev said, “they can use this at their trade schools, and later to be self-employed or find good work.”
Swan also started a programming class, but it was too challenging for teens who hadn’t caught up academically; plus, orphans often have learning disabilities because of their institutional and family history.
Morozov wants to simplify the classes and try again.
“How to bring (programming) to them is our challenge,” he said.
With clients from central Indiana, as well as Ohio, Illinois, and elsewhere, Swan has brought good business to Carmel. But Swan’s reach – and the reach of Carmel’s community – extends across the ocean as well, making a big impact on young people in Ukraine.
Last Bell at a Glance
• Meets needs of 400 orphanage graduates every year
• One-on-one mentorship
• Life skills lessons
• Tutoring and help with education
• Assistance with job searches
• Parenting training and emergency aid for orphan parents
• MOPS partnership
• Crisis housing
• Renovation of unlivable dwellings
• Christian teaching and church partnerships
• Assistance for orphans with disabilities
• Advocacy in medical crises
• Holiday gatherings