Hello family and friends,
It has been hot recently, in the mid 90s. But, then again, it is summer. Sveta has coaxed me to swim in the sea a few times this summer. The water has had a cool temperature, just right for swimming. The ½-mile long beach has been packed with vacationers from Western Europe and Russia. The Illichevsk beach remains free, although it has become very commercialized. There are many ways to spend your money.
My focus this summer is to write articles on Sveta’s and my blog about the education needs of the children. My series begins with “What About Education? – Intro.” With each article, I am building the foundation of environment and need of the children in Ukraine. This series will come to a conclusion soon, and will be followed with a series on Health Care and how MUCH is involved.
MUCH is not an organization created to educate the children of Ukraine. It is our intent to evaluate what is current, and be a catalyst for inspiration or change to create opportunity that will improve the options of the children. Here in Illichevsk, our Transportation Scholarship Program (TSP) does this. Our long-term goal is to alter society through education. Our focus is not to teach our thoughts and beliefs, but rather to encourage and challenge the children to continue on to higher education that is already waiting for them.
I believe that this will break the cycle of poverty, giving the teenagers a bigger picture of what is available for them to do with their lives. With a picture of something more than their past lives and how they were raised, these teens will not only have the opportunity for higher education, but will realize that there are people who care enough about their future to help them. Some of the teens who do want this are not able to afford the transportation to and from Odessa every day. That amount is about $2.50 a day for an hour of travel each way! Imagine that!
In Marganets, the staff and administration are committed to the 156 children in their orphanage. It is government-run, but this one is operated so much better than others in Ukraine are. Their focus is to challenge the children to find their highest abilities and excel. For some of the children, these areas are in computer or music and dance. MUCH believes that these classes are preparing the children for their futures in a bigger perspective, developing thought processing and new patterns of thinking, which were touched on in the June Newsletter.
A third course of study that MUCH supports in Marganets is provided by a local church. In the beginning, we asked them to meet with the children and teach about morality and self- respect, with a focus on prevention of drug and alcohol abuse. For children in an orphanage system, this can be the biggest influence on their lives. Taught by loving teachers, the children can develop character that will carry them through the difficult times that they will face in their futures.
MUCH has been influencing the lives of children in Ukraine in these ways for six years. Our desire is to expand our education programs and inspire the teachers to do more. The government is not likely to add to the budget, so MUCH sponsorship may be the only way to express to the teachers that we care about what they do.
Several months have passed since we met with the parents and their daughter, A., in their home. This time, while visiting the massage clinic and the doctor/masseuse Natasha B., Mark and I saw good results from A. Her parents give a lot of attention to the child. Four times a year A. is being treated in a children’s multi-therapy clinic called “Golden Angel” in Odessa. She receives medical treatment and massage therapy, and during the summer, the parents bring A. daily to an Equine Therapy program near the town, where she rides a horse in a small walking circle.
Contact with the horse gives A. many positive emotions, helps relax her spastic muscles, and builds tone in her legs.
Contact with the horse warms up the muscles and joints of the legs and pelvis, and also develops coordination. The girl is very patient and she is accustomed to numerous procedures, training, and massage. Her parents are actively involved with the child at home. They use a special suit that holds the muscles of the extremities in the correct position. We reported on A. in the February Newsletter that she could not raise her head. During this visit, she is able to raise her head and hold it in a raised position for a count of 60 seconds or more. This is great progress.
D., an eight- and-a-half year old, is a very interesting and clever girl. She is an extraordinary child!
When she learned that Mark would be at her massage treatment, and that he would be taking pictures of her, she carefully prepared for the meeting. She wore her best dress, jewelry, and her grandma braided her hair beautifully. D. met Mark about 4 years ago, and she loves him very much. When it came time to say goodbye, it was clear that D. did not want to part with Mark.
She has Cerebral Palsy, but she goes to a regular school and has almost no free time. She regularly receives massage treatments and visits a dance choreographer for lessons in stretching muscles. The stretching exercise is very hard work for her. Currently, D. is interested in working with beads. She showed us her work, a beautiful bracelet for her wrist. D. loves animals, especially horses and dreams of working with them in her future.
Two years ago, D. underwent surgery to lengthen the muscles in her left heal cord and her right hamstring, behind her knee.
Before, she could stand only on her toes. After the operation, she is now able to stand with her foot almost entirely flat on the floor. She receives a single injection of a medication called Disport, to relieve spasticity of her leg muscles once or twice a year, depending on the results. It costs 1500 grevnya ($187.50) per dose for her. Currently, MUCH is not involved with the cost of this injection treatment.
It is very important when doctors and parents notice the child’s deviation from the norm in infancy. Actions taken in time, especially before the child reaches the age of one year, can greatly alter the development of the baby. M. began receiving massage treatments when he was one month of age. He is now 1 year and 8 months. During this time, his muscle tone has been restored. His mother is delighted with the good results, and understands the importance of massage for him.
V. has hemi-paresis, and he began to receive massage at the age of three months.
Now he is two years and four months old. During this time, he has received massage treatments and also has good results.
Our hearts were saddened when we learned the story of this next boy.
I. has a very rare disease and has already suffered a complicated surgery to remove his colon. Mark and I visited him at home. I. is now a patient of our masseuse, Tanya. The doctor caring for I. has prescribed massage as mandatory. He states that it is very necessary to receive massage as an important means to help restore the function of his body. He is a beautiful child!
Thanks for your help! You are sincere and good people. You are well aware of the complexity of situations and in the past have been ready to provide much needed assistance. Charity is one of the most important works in society. With your help, needy children receive timely assistance and can always count on your support. People involved in charity, by helping others, get moral satisfaction from their work.
Living my dream,
You will be hearing more about our efforts toward education and health care as we enter the fall season. MUCH is made up of many different people. I am only one here in Ukraine who moves things forward. There are thirty-one people of Ukraine, in three cities and two villages, who are involved to some degree in making the work of MUCH happen. In America, the MUCH board of directors guides my financial decisions here in Ukraine, and the sponsors of MUCH make it possible to carry out the work that God guides me to do. Finally, but equally important, are those who lift us up in prayer in America and here in Ukraine. The children thank you all!
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta