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Hello family and friends,

It was in the upper 50’s F yesterday, but summer is right around the corner. School is almost finished here in Illichevsk, and the children will be running to the beach. Ice cream stands will be rolled out to the sidewalks, and life will appear happy for all. As I walk through the streets of Illichevsk, I am thankful that I was called to live and work in this clean city. Sveta’s and my one-bedroom apartment meets our needs and is our home sweet home. We treasure it as we journey home from our fourteen-hour train and bus trips visiting the children in Dobromel, Marganets,  and Froonza.

Continuing our look at how we spend our funds, I will share two general areas: education and healthcare. Why is MUCH interested in Education? Everyone knows that education provides the building blocks for functioning in life. It shows us the road to a brighter future. Here in Ukraine, we are looking at two very specific problems: poverty and alcohol abuse. Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty. We believe that alcoholism is a direct result of poverty, although alcoholism has additional roots. We look at the family structure and see that children from poor families have little motivation and almost no encouragement to live a better life.

V. is hungry for a better life.

Five years ago, we began the Transportation Scholarship Program with two high school graduates.

As you saw in the January newsletter, one of the two graduated. The second dropped out of our program and disappeared. Over the years, three or four more students from very difficult homes were encouraged to go to college. Only one had the motivation to go. Currently, we know of two in college who are in need of help, and more who will graduate high school in the coming years. We have the opportunity to help Illichevsk break the cycle of poverty one child at a time. Currently, we have one student, V, who is in the nursing program at the medical college. The cost for one student to travel to Odessa and back (there is no dormitory system similar to the US) is about $42 a month, the cost of one taxi ride in some US cities. Currently, MUCH does not have the funds needed to help more than one student, but they are waiting.

J. begins vocal training.

At the Marganets orphanage, we support in a small way the Computer and the Music and Dance classes. The administration sees big results occurring in the children because of these two programs.

MUCH sees the same results, but why are we convinced that the programs are of value for our support. We understand that music is a central focus in the lives of children and teens all over the world. More importantly, we look at the effects on the brain. Music stimulates the brain and is documented in many studies to have multiple effects on the body and mind. More information about music and its benefits can be found on the internet or in libraries. 

J. is vocalist for the dance team.

Dance also has multiple values. It provides exercise, improves balance, flexibility, fluid movement, organized thought, team interaction, and more.

Learning computer skills provides the obvious preparation for the work world and social media, but our focus is that it teaches the children to think using logic. Using the computer is an activity that requires the developing use of logic. We support these programs with a small contribution of $25 a month. It began as an incentive to the teachers to teach new programs. The manager recently gave us a wish list, which included $250 a year to buy material to make costumes and buy dance shoes, and $125 a year to buy new library books. Currently, MUCH does not have the funds to provide these materials.  Watch J perform in national competition.

Sisters struggle together.

The second focus is healthcare. We are concentrating on two types of help. The newest type provides funds for medical treatment of children in a village transition home.

This is a small contribution, $37.50 per child for a hospital or Emergency Medical Service visit. To refill their medical box with total contents costs $62.50. This facility is only large enough to house 11 children. Since we began helping these children about five months ago, we provided all of the supplies for the medical box, which was empty. We helped two children recently, one needing an appendectomy and the second in need of an EMS visit because of her heart. This is a small program, but these children are very much in need of a program that can provide funds for medical treatment. We have a Ukrainian sponsor who is giving toward this need.

The second type of healthcare is our medical massage program. We have been providing massage treatment for children with disabilities for eight years. One massage currently costs $2.85. We manage five massage programs in three cities and one village. Twenty-one massage treatments are provided each day, costing $59.85, less, I believe, than the cost of one medical massage in America. Each month, we spend $1,197 on our massage program. There is NO overhead! The massage rooms that we use in each program are free to MUCH. The parents bring their own sheet and towel for their child, and the masseuses provide their own massage oils, if they use them in their style of treatment.

A. battles Downs Syndrome with massage.

After receiving massage for my own minor disability, we began our massage program in 2004 with enough funds to give three children massage each day for a twenty-day treatment program.

Our results have been very good since the beginning, and we have grown over the years. In Illichevsk, we have two programs totaling 12 children a day. In the village of Froonza, we provide four children massage each day. At the orphanage in Dobromel, we began a program in January for (4) children a day. When Sveta and I were there in April, the director was so excited about the results that he and his staff were seeing in the children, that he wants to have a second masseuse to treat an additional four children. At the orphanage in Marganets, the manager is very pleased with the results that the doctor and her nurse are seeing. We discussed having a masseuse from the city community come and work with the children. This is another opportunity for us to expand our massage program.

In all of our massage programs, we are treating a  maximum of 252 children a year. So, how many children with disabilities are within our radar? There are about 600 children in the three cities and one village who have disabilities that could benefit from massage. MUCH is limited in providing more services by a lack of funding. In the ten years that I have lived in Ukraine, MUCH has initiated new programs and caused them to grow. We want to continue to meet the needs of more children, but we want to see growth come along slowly but surely, as we have during this last decade. In order to grow, we must see new sponsorship.

Sveta’s Journey

Welcome to Dobromel, Mark!

We visited the Dobromel Orphanage at the time when many of the children who have family were going home for a short holiday. As we traveled toward the  orphanage/boarding school, my heart began to sing a joyful song. After being away from my new little friends for six months, I wanted very much to see them again. Our visit with the children brought great joy to them. When we arrived, they came running to us, with hugs and kisses for us, asking, “Will you’ll be giving us a massage?” I replied, “We’ve come to visit you, to see how you are doing.”

All the children were eager to receive massage. The week that we lived across from the boarding school, they asked me each day to give them a massage.

Natasha, the masseuse, is educated in Sports Medicine. She gives massage and children receive exercise training directly related to the focus of the massage. When these are combined, the results are very effective. One therapist cannot give massage to a large number of children. At this orphanage/ boarding school, virtually all children need massage.

We spoke with Lydia, the manager, and she enthusiastically talked about the great results that she saw in the children during the first four months of the program. The program of massage in this boarding school started working in January 2012, and even in such a short period, all of the teachers and educators have noticed the physical and psycho-emotional changes in children for the better. Hyperactive children were less excited and more relaxed, more attentive in class, and some even improved handwriting and posture.

The director, manager, Mark, and I are very pleased that the children have a wonderful opportunity to get a massage. The director has a vision to provide progress reports on the results of the massage program for Government authorities to obtain official permission to add a position for massage in the budget of the boarding school.

We brought pictures of children who were photographed in October during our past visit. They love to be photographed, so this time we took many pictures of them and they will be looking forward to our next visit when they will receive new pictures.

During this wonderful time spent with children, God gave me new eyes to see the children. My heart ached as tears fell from my eyes, such pain as if they were my own children. I do not know why God allows me to see, filled with compassion, the children’s hearts. Of course, I pray for them. While we are visiting them, I can hug them and give them my love. I ask myself this question: “What more can I do for the children; I only spend time with them twice a year?” Familiarity with these children helps me to see their needs and guides me how to pray for them. They are in your hearts and mine, and I know that these children are in the heart of God.

Thanks for your help, O!

O has a very sweet personality. You can see the smile on his face and the joy in his eyes.

O has scoliosis and a deformity of his chest. Without massage and exercise treatment, his condition may become a more serious problem. In the February newsletter, you read about E, and saw the picture of his severe scoliosis and deformed chest. It is possible that without treatment, O could go in the same direction. MUCH is taking the time and making the effort to improve O’s life. Please help us to guide his health in a progressive direction.

Massage helps me so much!

M, a young girl, two years ago received an extensive burn on her back, abdomen, and parts of the upper arms.

Together with other children, she ignited a fire to bake a potato, the fire burned low and the girl decided to pour gasoline on the fire. Splashes of gasoline fell on her sweater, and it began to burn. M was scared, but her younger brother quickly realized that it was necessary to remove her sweater and he removed the burning sweater. Then, when she was brought to the hospital, the doctor said that it was very good that they removed the sweater; if it were not so, he would have had to remove the sweater with the skin. The girl showed us her post-burn scars. All the back and stomach wounds healed solid brown. After several days of massaging the skin, it became softer and more elastic. She is also in need for corrective surgery. M really likes when she receives massage. It also has very positive emotional effect for her.

Where else may all these children receive massage and the results of restoration of mental, emotional, and physical health? My prayer to Almighty God is for healing of mind, body, and soul for these children, for God’s mercy and salvation of their souls.

Many thanks to all of you that you keep praying for our MUCH children and financially supporting the work of all of our masseuses. God bless you!

Living my dream,

We want to share more about the children at the Dobromel orphanage with you in the July Newsletter. Until then, please keep the children and us in your prayers. Thank you for reading! 

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

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