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Hello family and friends,

Welcome to 2015, a year of hope and change for a bright future in Ukraine. I have great faith that this year will show many positive events. Join us as we walk with the children of MUCH and build our personal commitment to living in Ukraine. Share our stories with your friends.

Mark’s Moments

I have never been so happy to live in a house that was not finished. Our 560 square foot house has four walls and a roof, two interior walls, and all utilities. The rest of the details are in process. This is our first winter living in our new house. I encounter many surprises as time goes by. The biggest surprise is that many of them are “normal” life in Ukraine.

After a big snow storm with gusting winds, water began to leak through the unfinished ceilings in the kitchen and the bathroom. Sveta’s daily communication with her mother resulted in understanding where the water was coming from.


When Sveta told me that we should borrow the neighbor’s ladder and clean the snow out of the attic, I thought that she was joking with me. When the neighbor let us borrow his twenty-foot long, solid oak ladder, I studied the expression on Sveta’s face. She had a big smile, similar to a child ready to play in the snow. When we entered the attic, I realized one more aspect of the Ukrainian mentality. Seventy years of Soviet control created a survival instinct. Spend your money on what is absolutely necessary, save the rest for emergencies, and physically fix the results of what was not absolutely necessary.


One of the changes that we made in the house when we bought it was to change the location of the kitchen to the middle room of three rooms. There was no bathroom in the house design. I put an indoor bathroom/laundry where the kitchen was supposed to be. I was very pleased that I didn’t have to use the outdoor toilet, a hole in the ground surrounded by four walls with a slant roof, that also had snow inside. This also was quite normal for Sveta when she would visit her parents in the village. Many private homes have beautiful bathrooms for their guests to use, while they use the outhouse all year around.

I have lived in southern Ukraine for twelve years. Snow was not so normal each winter, but when it did snow, I had the luxury of living in an apartment where I could hide from the elements.

Home ownership comes with much work. In some places, the snow drifted to three feet. Sveta informed me of the need to move the snow to the garden to control flooding around the house,
another “normal” activity. I have been looking for an exercise program!

Sveta’s Journey

Tanya: massage therapy home visits in Illichevsk

Many children are born every year with disabilities. A good doctor should be able to identify any differences in a child within the first month, if not immediately after birth. In Ukraine, there is a law that a child may not be diagnosed as disabled until one year of age. At that point, they may qualify for financial benefits which include healthcare. Because of this, disabilities immobilize many children in Ukraine.

A number of years ago, Mark began to focus on the possibilities of early intervention. His desire was to offer massage therapy to infants and children under five years of age. This was not happening in Illichevsk. The story that follows is one current result.

Tanya, our home-visit masseuse, was contacted by the mother of the child in the picture, Ivan. She asked Tanya to give some preventative massage treatment to her child. In the process, Tanya recognized some obvious developmental deficiencies. She advised the mother to take her child to the children’s polyclinic to be evaluated by the neurologist. After the evaluation, no differences in the child were documented.

A few months later, Ivan’s mother asked Tanya to reevaluate her child. Again, Tanya recommended that the mother take her child to the neurologist for evaluation. After the second visit, the neurologist did diagnose the difference in the child as a particular disability. At that point, the child qualified for treatment that would bring positive change to the child. We saw good results during our visit in November, 2014.

During our autumn visit to Illichevsk, we visited a number of Tanya’s home-visit patients. We saw good results in the children. All of the parents and Tanya expressed big thanks to Mark and all of the MUCH sponsors.

Dr. Natalia: massage therapy in private practice

Another massage therapist in our program in Illichevsk is Dr. Natalia. One of her MUCH patients is six-year-old Nastya. Her parents brought her from the neighboring village specifically to be treated by Dr. Natalia. Nastya has cerebral palsy. The first examination by Dr. Natalya showed that the child could not sit without support, could roll from her back to her stomach only with great difficulty, could not chew, and could not swallow water.

On the 5th day of massage treatment, the results were: Nastya’s facial muscles relaxed affecting language. There was an active articulation; the child began to speak new sounds. Chewing reflex appeared, Nastya began to swallow liquid foods and drink water! At the end of the massage therapy course, the girl learned how to crawl, and can stand with a walker taking a few steps! Her mother cries when she seeing such wonderful results of her six-year-old daughter. She sends to Mark and the MUCH sponsors very big thanks for your financial help for her daughter. Massage therapist Dr. Natalia also says, “Thank you very much for your help for our children.”

Ira: massage therapy at the clinic

In the city of Illichevsk, MUCH provides massage therapy in a small room in the Children’s Polyclinic, free of charge. When the neurologist across the hall recognizes differences in a child or infant that will develop into a disability, she directs them to have a course of massage therapy by our masseuse, Ira. Treatment at an early age can remove the problem completely. Our Early Intervention Program works with children as young as two months.

We have seen many infants and young children overcome disabilities before their bodies developed non-symmetrical patterns of growth. Many children have been spared the terrible, late diagnosis and negative forecasts for their future.

Through your financial contributions the children of Illichevsk continue to receive relief from a life of diminishing disability through massage therapy from our three MUCH massage therapists.

Our Illichevsk massage therapists and parents of children warmly thank you.

Living my dream,


Thank you for reading our stories the past 12 years and supporting us with encouragement, prayer, and financial support. Another way to support our work is to share our stories with your friends.

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