Hello family and friends,
Happy New Year 2013!
Our Christmas fundraiser this year fell short of our total goal, but we will be able to operate the computer classes for the complete goal of one and a half years.
We (picture to the right) are very excited about that! The remainder of the funds raised will go toward the massage therapy programs at Dobromel and Froonza that will continue from last year. A second part-time massage therapist for the Dobromel orphanage may be possible in the future, if we can find more monthly sponsors.
MUCH had two surprises this Christmas. After reading our November Newsletter, friends from North Carolina offered to buy a sewing machine for the orphanage-school in Marganets. When the assistant director heard this news, she was very pleased. The children will be thrilled with all of the mechanized options that they will be able to use. They will even be able to sew in script to personalize their projects!
The second surprise involves a church, a mission organization, and a new sponsor. Between the three of them, money was contributed to buy two new washing machines for the Transition Home in Marganets. The director and the washwomen were very pleased to receive these machines because they had been washing clothes and bedding for 30 children by hand.
After our two month fundraising and holiday time, Sveta and I have returned to Ukraine exhausted, but we will begin this year with a new perspective on Ukraine. Sveta’s first visit to America did yield culture shock for her. For me, I saw America through her eyes, which in turn, helped me to see Ukraine with new eyes. After ten years, the cultural differences and the visual effects have become very “normal” for me. When I would visit America in the past, my world, my perspective, was only bigger. Now, seeing through Sveta’s eyes, I see two different worlds.
Our time in America was constant mental activity. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my niece’s wedding, and family visits kept us busy. Then, there were the many sponsors that we visited and the presentations that we gave. Sveta’s one year of studying English proved to be very successful. She spoke in front of large groups without hesitation. Her Ukrainian perspective of MUCH gave them new understanding of our work with the children.
Additional stress visited us in the last few days of our journey. My passport was at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington DC, waiting for a Visa D to be attached. When I called, I learned that I had sent the wrong amount of money, too much, and they couldn’t accept the postal money order. Mom sent another while Sveta and I were out of town, but the adventure heightened as we tracked the return express mail envelope. After great efforts by two gracious postal workers, (unbelievable in Sveta’s eyes), the envelope was available to be picked up at 7AM the morning that we were to fly back to Ukraine.
My heart sank as I opened my passport to learn that I had only 45 days on my Visa D. I later learned that this is normal under the new law. The second step is to register with the government office for a one-year Visa D in the city where I live and work. After I get this, my next step will be to apply for full time residency, not citizenship, as the spouse of Sveta, a Ukrainian national. This will be available after we are married two years, January 10, 2014.
Our next adventure met us at the JFK International Airport. Our connecting flights to Odessa included two stops in European Union countries, Germany and Austria. This was not a problem for me, carrying an American passport. On the other hand, Sveta had a Ukrainian passport; therefore, she needed a Schengen Visa to fly into more than one EU airport. The clerk at the Austrian Air desk was able to give us two options for flights that would go directly from JFK to Vienna where we could connect with our final flight. We were blessed with the first option, standby tickets for a 6PM flight that would leave in two hours, and a $316 change fee, versus a $1016 change fee for a flight the next day. As we waited patiently, we were invited to the 6PM flight. On we went.
Our focus in 2013 will be to create videos of the work that we do with the children, particularly in the massage therapy programs. These videos will be available to view by way of the internet or a number of our sites, such as Flickr, YouTube, our blog, Facebook, and Twitter. The massage therapy video that I made for the presentations on our trip opened new eyes of understanding for many people.
Our two-month trip to America is over, we returned to Ukraine, and of course, I am very glad to see my family and friends in Ukraine. I was a little sad that I had to leave my wonderful new family and friends in America; they gave us attention, love, and support. I enjoyed socializing with people; I saw a lot of care and a desire to give us their valuable time. I was bathed in love.
After talking to people and reviewing what they saw, I learned and saw many differences in their culture and way of life. First of all, I was very impressed with the people. They were very welcoming, friendly, discreet, ready to help, and to encourage. I did not feel lonely or outcast in this new culture; I felt the love and acceptance in a great family where there is love.
Today it is considered that the experience of a new culture is a shock, because it is unexpected and can lead to negative evaluation of one’s own culture. I do not appreciate my Ukrainian culture in a negative manor. I love my country, and God has put love in my heart to help Ukrainian women and men of retiring age when Mark and I retire. We will help them find hope for the future, because it is usually the time when the Post-Soviet people retire to a meaningless life. Children are grown, the grandchildren are adults, and they have no work or hobbies. There is no further purpose in life, having completed all previous goals (attending university, having a good job, a family, a baby, raising grandchildren) the people are at a loss – how to live on?
Mark and I are thinking about the time when we will retire. We want to help these people regain confidence that life can be rich and fruitful, even after the person has retired. We already have a plan to do it. While in America, I saw a perfect example of people in the retirement age having an active and productive life.
All the people we met in America were eager to know about the children in the orphanage. I know many stories because I know many of the children. Each child has their own unique story; they have experience with big blows of fate for their young age.
R. (to my right) is a boy from the Dobromel orphanage. He looks older than his years.
Maybe it is because he was found on the street many years ago when he was a little boy. He could not say his name, age, or give any information on who his parents were. R. was given his name by the boarding school, along with some created identity where they recorded the year of his birth. Police were looking for a long time to find his family, but did not find anything. The boy is an orphan only in words. Because of the lack of true documents, he cannot have the financial help benefits of being an orphan, as there is no proof of the death of his parents, or their rejection of this child.
Last autumn, R. (to my right) finished boarding school and now attends trade school as a builder.
He lives in a dorm and gets a very small $30 monthly stipend. Since the law does not considered him for an orphan pension pensioner, after he finishes all of his education, he will no longer be entitled to the stipend, much less any other government aid. The director asked us to help him. We know a Christian family that has experience working with children and helping them adapt to life after the orphanage. We think that they will help R.
K., (left) 7 years old, has cerebral palsy. He can say only one word “mama”. K. has respectable parents, but they are very busy and very seldom visited the child, and of course, the boy misses them and has become very closed.
When the massage therapist gave massage for him, the first few days he was very stressed and did not want to be touched. Now K. is gradually beginning to open up and blossom like a flower that was drooping for a long time without water.
Two brothers, I. and P. (right) are special. I love them very much. When Mark and I come to the orphanage, the elder brother is always beside us; the youngest brother is shy and follows us at a distance of several meters.
They cannot speak well. Their parents are alcoholics. When it is vacation time, parents take these boys home, but it is really better for them to stay at the boarding school. The boys told me they do not like their mom, and they do not like to be at home.
Every adult has a destiny that he can change. Children are dependent on their parents or other adults who are involved in their lives, whether positive or negative. Particularly dependent are the children with physical and mental limitations. These children have little ability to change their own destiny, but their parents or other adults in their lives may have big influence on their future.
Thank you very much for your financial support of the computer program that will operate for a minimum of one and a half years at the Dobromel Orphanage-Boarding School. After having more than 20 computers sit idle for more than a year, the children will now embark on a new adventure in learning. It is all because of your generous contributions that this has become a reality.
Your love, prayers, and financials support, our friends and partners, help us perform many projects to help children. Thank you very much!
Living my dream,
As we enter 2013, we see change happening in Ukraine that will affect the children. The government is closing many of the orphanages, mainstreaming the children into regular schools. Our focus on health care, education, and clothing will remain our objective. Our ability to reach out to more children this year and next will depend upon people with hearts for the children.
If God is nudging you to make a monthly commitment to help our children, please understand that $5 or more dollars a month will make a difference in the lives of our children.
As we work together to build a stronger Ukraine through caring for its children, we work together to build a stronger world! Thank you for taking an interest in our children who look to us for help.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta