Hello family and friends,
Happy New Year! The Christmas Fundraiser was a tremendous success!
The year of 2011 was successful in all of our ministries! What an awesome thought when you consider the total of the MUCH outreach. Sveta and I want to share some of the reasons that the success of the Christmas fundraiser is so important to us, and the MUCH team. Last year was a big challenge concerning month-to- month contributions. We wanted to continue the massage program in Froonza following its successful first year, and a new opportunity was available at the Dobromel Orphanage to begin a massage program in 2012. The Christmas fundraiser, the biggest single effort for contributions, was the only way to guarantee that these two programs would touch the lives of at least sixteen children with physical disabilities. Our children in Froonza and in the Dobromel orphanage have begun receiving massage in this year of 2012 and are guaranteed to have this treatment for the entire year, thanks to your kind hearts and generous donations.
The children want to say thank you because your gifts this Christmas will start something new in their young lives. They will feel love and feel loved, possibly for the first time in their lives. Massage ignites hope, something that none of these children have seen of felt in their young post-soviet lives. They want you to know that you have changed their lives forever. Contributions to MUCH this past Christmas season will affect these children in personal health, participation in school or preparation to qualify for school, and instill new enthusiasm in their little hearts. The MUCH team thanks you for your generous support.
Tim Koehler, MUCH Board President, came to Ukraine in November and saw first-hand what is happening in Illichevsk, the second longest running MUCH program. I wish that you could see for yourself the great changes that are being made in the lives of so many children, more than 500 located in three cities and one village from northwestern Ukraine to southern Crimea, Ukraine.
In 2002, I began the Marganets Orphanage mission and was led to support the Emmaus program in Illichevsk. In 2010, the Emmaus program closed, but the Transportation Scholarship Program continues. Viktoria S. (left) graduated university last year and Tim presented her a certificate of achievement. Rolling through its tenth year MUCH has six major programs with seven minor programs attached.
Doors continue to open; the needs of children are introduced to me, and my heart wants to reach out to meet those needs. The Froonza massage program developed over a two-year period, Dobromel required three. To speak simply, there are children waiting for our help. As our mission continues to grow, we now work in three cities and a village, with a second village opportunity waiting in the wings. Students in Illichevsk, ready for university but in need of transportation funding, are looking to MUCH for assistance.
Today Mark and I attended the New Year’s celebration in the Center for Children with Disabilities in Illichevsk. When I saw disabled children dressed in festive costumes, my heart rejoiced that they could celebrate and have fun as all children do.
The Director of the Center, Ludmila S., has an adult son with a disability and understands how hard it is to raise and educate these children.
When her son was young, Illichevsk had no facilities specifically to aid children with disabilities, or programs to help their parents cope. Very many parents were alone with their grief. The children were at home, not able to play with other children or go to school. In such circumstances, children grow up in isolation and develop closed personalities. This affects the mental and emotional development of the children. It is very difficult for parents to watch their child in their present situation.
The director told me the story of the birth of this center. After living in Ukraine for two years, Mark opened a massage clinic for children with physical disabilities. His goal was to help children with disabilities become more mobile and able to function in everyday activities. In the process, Mark wanted to show Ukrainian people examples of American care and attention for Ukrainian children – to ignite in their hearts a great concern for their children. These goals came to life and became a reality, thanks to the team of MUCH, its mission, and your prayer and financial help, our dear American friends.
In the process of those two years, Ludmila S. persistently appealed to the government of the city with requests to establish a center for disabled children and their parents. Mark met with her during that time, while he developed the quality of the massage program for the same children. It was positive results of the massage clinic, which the U.S. mission MUCH sponsors and oversees, that drew the attention of the government to see this great need for the city – need for a place where children with disabilities can be in society, to spend time and get the care and attention that they need, and much more. Ludmila S. continually expresses her gratitude for the work that Mark and his team have done.
Ask and ye shall receive, knock and the door shall be opened. The persistence of Ludmila S. and the success of the MUCH massage program instilled the beginning of this center. Now it is a place where parents can come together with their children, or leave them at this facility so that they may go to work, or for some respite time.
Here the psychologist, tutors, teachers, and coach, conduct classes and physical rehabilitation. Children have fellowship with one another, play, develop communication capabilities, and discover talents in drawing and dancing. Children can achieve their best when their parents love and care are combined with the facilities of education and rehabilitation. Because the children experience social adaptation, they improve their psychological levels in the family. Parents are no longer alone in their challenges.
Every day, I understand more and more deeply the importance of the mission MUCH, understanding the work of Mark and his team. It is wonderful! I want to tell you thank you very much dear friends, for your open hearts for the children in Ukraine. I am grateful that there are people in America who care, such as Mark, and all of you who are giving part of your heart, expressing your love in action.
Your financial support and assistance for children in Ukraine has become a great example and a motivation to action for the city government of Illichevsk.
Living my dream,
My friends, my family members, you have stood by me over the many years of my work here in Ukraine. Now that Sveta and I are married, I will do a better job serving the children with her by my side. Her love for the children, along with her great enthusiasm, gives me new energy. As we walk down the MUCH mission road, we hope that you will continue to join us in prayer, encouragement, and financial support. If you are already a part of the team, we thank you from the depths of our hearts. If you would like to share in the MUCH ministry, we welcome you with open arms. We anticipate that 2012 will be a difficult year financially. I ask each of you to share the MUCH story with five friends who have a heart for children. Tell them of the lives that we are changing through prayer and sponsorship. Thank you for your continued interest in our children!
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta