July brings lots of sunshine, wonderful summer rains, the never-ending sea breezes, and some wonderful stories about the children. This letter will focus upon our activities in Illichevsk, where I live. Great things are happening!
I will begin with the Massage Clinic. During the first six years of operation, there was a difference of opinion as to who would receive services and how often. With my American mentality, I wanted children with disabilities to receive the best overall treatment. But the Ukrainian mentality was to share a little bit of this wonderful American-supported provision with as many children with disabilities as possible. Two years ago, we introduced the concept of early intervention that would provide, as early as possible, massage for infants showing neuromuscular abnormalities.
It seemed that many people had conflicting ideas of how the massage clinic should be operating. Because our massage clinic is in a donated space in Illichevsk Polyclinic, and is under the authority of the doctor who manages all of the medical practice in Illichevsk, my opinion didn’t hold much water. Recently, the chain of operations changed hands. Now, the director of the Polyclinic and the head of the Rehabilitation Department will make the decisions. My natural reaction was to meet the director and talk with her about the massage clinic. Once again, the Ukrainian mentality won. Ira did meet with the director, learning that she was in full agreement with the early intervention concept. But, the children with disabilities, meaning children who had been legally identified as having a disability, would receive first opportunity.
On another subject, a wonderful group of women, The East Sunrise Quilt Guild from Florida, sent about sixteen quilts to Ukraine with me on my return trip. I had decided that these quilts would be a wonderful gift for the mothers with infants in the early intervention program. On Friday, I was at the clinic to distribute three of the quilts. I watched Tanya give massage to three girls, ages four months, five months, and one year old. As I watched during this three-hour period, I realized what a precious opportunity massage is for these girls. Through massage, they are being given treatments to their neuromuscular system before it has the opportunity to develop inappropriately. As the neurologist in this department identifies an abnormality, she will recommend treatment at our massage clinic. It is working!
Later that that day, I went to the Center for Children with Disabilities. This Center operates as a multifaceted facility providing social activity and physical therapy. A psychologist from the city is on staff, a lunch is provided every day for those who attend, and it is a respite opportunity for the parents. It continues to grow in vision and function. It is a result of MUCH influencing the city and region through the operation of our Massage Clinic. We set the example. The city of Illichevsk sat up and took notice. I distributed three more quilts at the Center. Each time that I visit, I learn more about what they are doing, how the government is involved, and how I can help to provide more equipment for them to use with the children. One woman had a vision of what should be available in Illichevsk. Six years ago, God started the ball rolling. The uphill battle is not so difficult any more. We are making great progress.
Ira has a touching story that will stir your heart and make you want to shout with joy. She tells of how the work of her church and the support of MUCH are intertwined to change the lives of children who live in difficult homes controlled by drug and alcohol addiction.
Throughout Ukraine, there are many children in need of help, care and love. MUCH is doing something about that need for about 400 children, to some degree. The problems aren’t easy to solve. It requires a long-term commitment to see long-term results. God has blessed me with direction and has provided local people with hearts for the children. If God is tugging on your heart to get involved with our efforts here, please join us in whatever way you are feeling called to participate. I have committed the second half of my life to helping the children. Thank you for reading and following my news. I will talk with you some more in August.
Blessings of love and healing,