Hello family and friends,
May God’s blessings fill your hearts this Christmas Season. We wish for you all of the joy that He has for you. It is my turn to share with you some of my experiences while I visited Dobromel Orphanage for two weeks. All in all, it was a growing experience for me to better understand the lives of the children and life in the orphanage system. It was cold for October, but Dobromel is in the mountains, so it was a normal temperature for the season. I slept in a building across the street from the children’s dormitory, a three-room, recently remodeled apartment. The building was cold, and I slept in my long johns, hat, and socks, under two comforters almost long enough to cover my feet. The children seem to sleep in regular pajama’s, from what I could see. A number of years ago, a local Pentecostal Church replaced all of the children’s antiquated beds with solid wood bunk beds with hard wood support under the mattresses. Svetlana and I ate our meals in a room beside the orphanage kitchen. It, too, was cold. I wore my typical five layers of clothing. I appeared quite funny, because the children were running around wearing much less clothing. They seem to have acclimated to the cold winters, or maybe they accept their situation as normal.
It is a hard life for a child, living with 119 other children, struggling to understand their differences. It is a hard life for those who work there. They have limited materials, limited help from the government and local community, but most of all, they are overwhelmed with these 120 children with needs that tax their abilities to help. For two weeks, I lived how they live, in the cold buildings with the drab atmosphere of past times. I ate what they ate, most every meal containing cabbage and bread, two of the staples of Ukraine. I saw their overbearing physical and emotional needs. I watched as Svetlana performed massage on some of the children. I saw in their faces a new hope, an awareness of love in Svetlana’s eyes, and a new beginning of relaxation. I saw the children hungry for change in their physical and emotional conditions.
Mikola, the director, (picture to the right) has the most difficult job of all. He must run the orphanage according to the government rules. This is a very big job. He had time to talk with me only one time, a scheduled meeting with a translator that I hired to come from L’vov, a two-hour trip. Mikola showed his true love and concern for the children as our conversation about massage continued. He called the speech teacher and the nurse to drop what they were doing and come to our meeting. I saw the joy in their eyes as Svetlana explained the results that she was seeing after ten days of massage.
What MUCH is offering is nothing new in the therapies that have been known and practiced in Ukraine in general, but for the past twenty years of freedom, they have not been provided to the children at the orphanages for children with special needs. Click here to learn more about the current neglect of these children.
A month has gone by since I left Dobromel. Although, very often I am reminded of the children from the orphanage and I miss them. I really want to hug them all, show them my love, and protect them from all evil. My wish and prayer is that every child will grow-up in a good family and feel a great understanding and love of self. My wish and prayer is that the children will be healthy and full of personality; as adults, they will become useful, helping and supporting others as they once received help and support. Soon the whole world will celebrate Christmas. It is such a wonderful holyday! Families come together, giving each other gifts, having joy and fun together! Unfortunately, at this time, many of the children will be located within the walls of the orphanage, and for them this holyday is a reminder that they are alone or that their parents do not love them.
I once watched a girl, Ivanna meeting with her mother and stepfather. They stood in the great hall; their faces were strained, and I did not see the tender love and joy in their eyes. The impression was that each of them wanted this meeting to end as quickly as possible. The next day I wondered why Ivanna did not hug her mom and was not happy with the meeting with her. She said she does not love her mother. For me it was a great disappointment to hear these terrible words. I began asking this question of other children. A lot of them answered that they do not love their parents. When I heard these answers – for me it was a shock.
I remember a boy, Misha. He was 15 years old. When the autumn holidays arrive, many parents take their children home. Misha’s papa promised that he would take him home, too, for the one-week holiday. He did not fulfill his promise. This big boy was crying every day; he went outside and stood at the gate looking in the direction from which his father should appear. His eyes were very sad and every day the hope in his eyes faded more and more.
The stress of living in this orphanage/boarding school system, along with his family disappointments, resulted in poor classroom performance, and other emotional and physical manifestations for this teen. The muscles in his body tightened, causing pain and stiffness in his upper body. When I began the ten-day massage, Misha would not let me touch him. His body was extremely sensitive to touch, and his ability to trust me was equally limited. Little by little during the first three days of massage, Misha’s trust of me and the relaxation of his body began to grow.
The paramount importance in medical massage is to establish trust, and then each cell in the body responds with a positive reaction to the touch of the masseuse. Physical contact with hands massaging the patient’s body is complemented by a psychological bond.
At the end of the ten-day massage, Misha’s muscle tone was reduced, he allowed me to give him a more strenuous massage, revealing a decreased sensitivity to touch, and an overall better emotional state of mind. He was hopeful that his papa would take him home for the winter holidays to celebrate Christmas. I am also hopeful.
Living my dream,
CHRISTMAS FUNDRAISER GOAL $5,000
I have given up my life in America to help these children. Svetlana has left her job and joined me to help these children. Please join MUCH this Christmas season to help change the lives of children in Dobromel and in Froonza during 2012.
Dobromel – Misha R. has problems with hyperactivity. Five days of massage made a very big difference in his ability to be calm and self-controlled in the classroom.
Froonza – Dasha has Down’s syndrome. Sleeping throughout the night is only one of the positive results that she has experienced from receiving massage during this past year.
Many children at the Dobromel Orphanage and in Froonza are in great need of massage treatment. The Christmas Fundraiser will be used to provide massage treatment for a year at each location. Svetlana continues to share her story about the Dobromel children. You cannot completely imagine their need until you live with them, as Svetlana and I did, even though for only a short time. Please consider our children this Christmas Season. Listen to what God is saying to your heart. If it is about our children, may He bless you greatly for your generosity.
Donate in honor or in memory of someone special. When you make a donation in honor of family or friends, MUCH will send them an acknowledgement of your gift. Please remember to include the name and address of the honoree. When you make a donation in memory of a deceased loved one, MUCH will send you an acknowledgement of your memorial.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Svetlana