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Fil-Ukrainian's New York charity group hosts benefit screening for orphans in PHL

Maya’s Hope, a New York-based charity group supporting orphans in the Philippines and Ukraine, hosted a benefit screening of Todd Kellstein’s documentary “Buffalo Girls,” attended by some 100 supporters at The Mercedes Club in Manhattan on June 11.

“Buffalo Girls” depicts the lives of two professional Muay Thai fighters in Thailand who are eight years old.

The VIP section had a separate screen, soft couches with delightful sandwiches and cheese plates sponsored by The Café Grind and Thai drinks and desserts by Kare Thai Restaurant.

The event raised awareness about the struggles of children abroad, as well as money for the children that Maya’s Hope helps, according to its founder and head Maya Rowencak, a Filipino-Ukrainian-American.

Also featured was a surprise presentation by students of Square Circle New York, a well-known Muay Thai gym in the financial district.

The gym is a sponsor and is owned by Beatrice Fiedorowicz and Rob Rogan, who both have close ties to Maya’s Hope.

Rogan is Filipino and Fiedorowicz spent her childhood summers in Zaporozhia, Ukraine, where Maya’s Hope assists orphan children with special needs.

Also in attendance were gym owners and fighters Chris “Mr. Classic” Romulo and his wife Sarah (CROM Muay Thai), Jason van Oijen (Dogen Gym) and David Nykel (Muay Thai Fight Club).
Philippine Consul Zaldy Patron also graced the event.

Guests entering the luxurious Mercedes Club were greeted with pink and glittering adornments, the most conspicuous of which were the voluminous bouquets of bright magenta balloons.

As the line quickly grew, volunteers scrambled to check off names, stamp hands, and manage the concession stand, where popcorn and mango and lychee flavored jelly, a popular Asian snack to go along with the night’s Thai theme, were sold.

Maya Rowencak introduced the film and the audience watched in fascination and sorrow as the story unfolded of the two little girls that had to fight to earn a living for their families.

When the film ended, Rowencak explained that as sad as the girls’ situations was, the children that Maya’s Hope sponsors in Ukraine and the Philippines do not even have the option to earn such a living as fighters to escape a life of poverty.
Rowencak said she considers all the children that Maya’s Hope helps as “fighters” because of what they face every day.

The crowd was then invited to the spacious outdoor deck for a Muay Thai surprise.

Guests were dispersed among three stations, where they could observe Muay Thai fighters train and learn more about the Thai martial art.

The “Muay Thai Superstar” of the night was Chief, a Muay Thai student who is the same age as the Muay Thai fighters in “Buffalo Girls” and who demonstrated his powerful kicks for the crowd.
For more information about Maya’s Hope, visit or e-mail - Filipino Reporter