Ecosphere International is dedicated to highlighting the environment, culture and peoples of the Lake Baikal and Mongolian region through unique and exclusive Expeditions and Eco Tourism Tours and the sale of one-of-a-kind artifacts.

For over 17 years, Andrei Volkov and wife, Diane Olmen, have worked and lived in the Baikal Region of Siberia and Mongolia.  Through development of specific exchanges in medical, environmental, cultural and educational tourism, they are experts in showing the beauty, the unique environment and varied cultures of this world’s largest, oldest and most pristine body of fresh water.

Experience & History

ad1In 1988, Diane Olmen, as the Executive Director of the League of Chicago Theatres since 1981, was invited to Moscow Russia to begin a three-year exchange of theatre artists, directors, set designers and costume designers between the USA and Russian theatre communities.

This resulted in the exchange of many plays and exchange of over 400 artists within USA and Russia.  It also resulted in the Baikal/Great Lakes Theatre and Environmental Festival held on the shores of Lake Baikal – the largest, deepest, purist lake on earth holding 22% of the world’s fresh water.

Andrei Volkov was born in the Buryat Mountain range between Mongolia and Russia. He attended high school in Mongolia and worked in the 1980’s with most of the current administrations of both countries

ad2Since meeting and moving to the USA in 1994, Andrei and Diane continued to live in both areas about 5-6 months per year.  The professional and governmental colleagues know that Andrei is their son and that his commitment is to the Baikal Region.

After this widely-publicized Theatre Festival within the former USSR, Andrei and Diane continued to concentrate within the Republic of Buryatia and Mongolia (the watershed area of the Baikal Region).  They began to expand the interchange of colleagues to include a 3 year Environmental Exchange with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and an 14-year Medical Exchange with the Ministry Corporation/St. Mary’s Hospitals

ad3After being asked for over two years by the Republic of Buryatia medical community to help find families for the growing number of orphans within the Republic, they began facilitating international adoptions in 1997 with the understanding that the needs of mother, child and families continue to be addressed. Since than, around 200 adoptions have been completed.

After working with the Mongolian Ministries on helping them establish a process of Birth and Death certificates, Certificates of Adoptions and a system of processing orphans which had never been in place, they, with the help and input of the USA Embassy in Ulan Bataar, began facilitating adoptions in Mongolia in 2002 and processed over 25 adoptions.

ad5Our philosophy was to teach the adoptive parents about the culture, social and political climate of their child’s birthplace – thus establishing a strong commitment with and for the conditions in the area.

BRAFF

Together with the parents, a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization “The Baikal Regional Adoptive Family Fund (BRAFF)” was formed with the sole purpose to raise funds for orphans and needy children in the area.

The Baikal Regional Adoptive Family Fund (BRAFF) has raised over $50,000 per year since 2000. Andrei and Diane act as the Senior Advisors meeting with the Russian/Mongolian organizations, assessing their needs and presenting and distributing the projects to and for BRAFF. 97% of all funds go to projects as no funds are used for employees.

Currently BRAFF is sponsoring 10 orphans through 4-5 year Degrees, funding of monthly Birthday and Outings at Malychok Orphanage, all playground equipment for the Birth to 3 Orphanage in Ulan Ude and an on-going supplies of medications, clothing, toys, and furniture to the Infant Sanitarium and the Savio Children’s Home in Ulan Bataar, Mongolia.