Hello family and friends,
April 15 is tax day in America. In Ukraine, it has traditionally been the day the local governments turn off the heating service in the cities. This year, because of the conflict with Russia, that date was changed to April 1, not a very nice April Fool’s joke. In Nikolayev and Illichevsk, close to the sea, the temperatures are warmer than the rest of the country. Even so, we have been having temperatures in the upper 30s F and the lower 40s F. Then, there are the cities like Marganets and Borislav that have had no heat above 40 F, year round, for the past 12 or more years. Welcome to Ukraine!
Heating up the country, the presidential elections will take place in May.
Let’s see what else is happening.
It seems that Ukraine is learning that freedom is not free. Corruption over the past 23 years of freedom in Ukraine has destroyed the economy of the country. On the brink of bankruptcy, Ukraine has agreed to the terms of the IMF to receive some of the financial help needed. The terms will create difficult times for the people of Ukraine. Here are some of the changes that will take place.
Some of the developing details are a 47% to 66% increase in personal income tax rates; a 50% increase in monthly gas bills; a 40% increase on gas tariffs for heating companies; and an increase in taxes on agribusiness. In addition, while some at the IMF have speculated the currency’s devaluation against the dollar year-to-date (35+ %) is enough to satisfy the fund’s penchant for ‘correcting imbalances,’ others are maintaining that the currency needs to get even weaker. Click here to read more.
President Obama and the EU have enforced sanctions against Russia a number of weeks ago. There is a second round of sanctions ready to be put into action if Russia breaches Ukrainian’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. As paid rabble-rousers are sent to Ukraine from Russia to try to get more referendums started in major eastern cities of Ukraine, the new sanctions are being voted on and readied for retaliation against Russia’s move to claim more of Ukraine for itself. What will the sanctions do to Russia; what will the sanctions do to the people of the EU? Click on the links below:
There is no question that this Ukrainian situation over the Crimean crisis had created an international conundrum. No one wants another military war; everyone is in agreement of that, I think. Even so, sanctions will create a trade war that will have effects on all involved. International trade with Russia has created a need for Russian goods, mainly gas and oil. It will take time to replace the immediate needs of importers and exporters. Click here for more information on this subject.
Last week and this week while working at our house, I was aware of two jets flying low in the sky. This was a daily occurrence. Looking for an answer, I learned that NATO is watching the borders of Ukraine.
How will all of this affect MUCH? As Sveta suggested in the March newsletter, we no longer have access to wire money through banks to Crimea as of the end of March. Things did move very quickly in Crimea. Russian passports were being registered for all Crimean residents, while deporting all of the Ukrainian military and some other Ukrainian citizens. The ruble is now being used along with the Ukrainian grevnya until they can change the currency to only the ruble. This means that MUCH no longer can operate the Froonza Massage Therapy Program. We cannot get money to them, and we cannot get to them to visit without a visa, and maybe not even then, since Americans and Ukrainians will not be welcome in Crimea by the Russian government.
Walking in His shoes,
In the midst of the problems of Ukraine, Sveta has some good news about the children!
It is very sad that we stopped the massage program in the Crimean village of Froonza. Because Crimea became part of Russia, it appears that MUCH will not continue to work there. Two years ago, several mothers from Froonza whose children have disabilities wished to meet with Mark. They asked him to continue the program. Given the fact that the village is far away from the city, it is almost impossible to bring the children to the city for daily massage treatment by bus. The massage program in Froonza was a great help not only for children from this village, but also from neighboring villages. MUCH was the catalyst; we set the example. We hope that the current government will pay attention to the needs of children in the villages. We continue to communicate with Anya, who is our manager in Froonza.
Since MUCH began sponsoring the computer program at the orphanage in Dobromel, the children have been making great advances. These lessons are the children’s favorite and most interesting subject. The children of all ages love these fascinating lessons; no one is indifferent. Two years ago when the program began, the children did not even know how to turn on the computer. The children had a great desire to enter the computer age. Volodya, a young and enthusiastic teacher, approached teaching the children with individual programs designed to advance each child according to their own ability. Using a step-by-step process, the children build their knowledge from the foundation upward according to their own readiness.
Volodya wrote us that as the children acquire the skills to work on the computer, they increasing their self-confidence, and they increase their belief in their own abilities. They have a great desire to continue to study the world of education through the computer!
In Illichevsk the transportation scholarship program is continuing! Vika has been in this program for three years. She will graduate her nursing education next month. Click here to see her video from last year. We have two lovely students Natasha and Nastya, who MUCH will support beginning September 2014.
Mark and I rejoice with the two girls. They are very pleased to receive this wonderful opportunity to be in the program thanks to you, the sponsors. Last year Mark made a video with them, interviewing them about their education plans. Click here to see the video. Natasha and Nastya waited for a year and the day finally came! During this year, the girls were not idle, but diligently continued their studies and earned money knowing the dire financial situation of their families. The transportation scholarship pays for transportation to and from their universities and gives them a small stipend for food during the trips.
At the Dobromel Orphanage, Natasha, the massage therapist, is doing a great job. She is seeing very good results with all of the children. Three years ago, Serozja was walking on the toes of one of his feet. This caused additional problems with his hip. After three years of massage therapy, beginning at age 14, he is walking much better. The heel of his one foot is now almost touching the ground when he walks.
We have written several times about two boys who had big physical and emotional problems. At the moment, both children are improved mentally and emotionally.
Both had some degree of scoliosis. Today, there is almost no sign of scoliosis in the spines of these two boys. The staff of the orphanage, including the nurse, are witnesses to these wonderful changes!
The massage therapist Natasha continues to work with these children. This work brings her great satisfaction and pleasure. Mark and I see Natasha’s dedication to this cause. She is very grateful to the American people who support the massage program at the Dobromel Orphanage.
Living my dream,
As I read the news on the internet about the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, it is difficult to understand what is true, real, and worth reading. There seems to be an information war in progress. We ask for your prayers for peace in Ukraine. The election will provide a new government in May. What happens between now and then remains a big question. The children are innocent. They don’t know about politics. MUCH has the passion to continue to help the children in Dobromel, Illichevsk, and Marganets. Work with us to change the futures of these children. We are living in dangerous times in Ukraine. Help us protect the children.
We want to thank our supporters for the prayers, love and support you have expressed for the children, the mission and for us personally. It means so much to know that you care about the continuation of the care for the children during this unsettled time. We do not fear for our safety; we fear only for the interruption of the programs that mean so much to the children and their families who, like families everywhere, want a bright future for their children. For those children who have no families, they need to know that despite other changes in the country, they have loving friends in the United States and other countries who care about them.