Hello family and friends,
March came in like a lion here in Illichevsk.
I was wearing my deep winter duck-down coat and favorite furry hat plus layers of shirts and pants to be warm in my outdoor adventures. Indoors, layers of clothes help me stay warm as Siberian Sveta likes to open the windows and let the fresh air in. Spring is just around the corner and Sveta and I have remained very healthy all winter.
Last month, I wrote that a washing machine was provided for the Transition Home in Marganets.
Here is the rest of the story. The status of the home had changed. The volume of children passing through had increased from twenty-six to thirty, and the time that the children remained in the home had changed from three to nine months. In November, Anatoliy, our manager in Marganets, told me that their washing machine was no longer working, and the repair part was not available in Ukraine. His request was for a five kilogram and a seven kilogram washing machine for the Transition Home.
By December, not having heard any positive response from me, he called and reduced his request to only the seven kilogram machine. By the time that I had found three sponsors interested in helping, another change in plans occurred.The sponsors gave money enough for both washing machines. In Marganets, there was a man about to travel to Germany to visit relatives.
He agreed to buy the repair part for the old washing machine (above left), while he was there. Anatoliy was asking if he could use a portion of the money for one washing machine, a portion for the part from Germany to repair the old washing machine, and a portion to buy a new refrigerator! The part from Germany arrived and was installed, the LG washing machine (above right) and the refrigerator (left) were purchased, and everybody is very happy. Thank you Les, Buddy (UC), and Tom (CBC).
The Transportation Scholarship Program remains near and dear to my heart. While shopping for a frying pan, Sveta and I saw Vika S., our TS program’s first graduate. She is now married and has a baby. She is using her education to build and raise her family, but also she will be ready to work as a teacher in the future. I would like to share with you a brief but profound story of Vika S., from age three.
A second girl in our TS program is also named Vika. We wrote about both Vika S and Vika briefly in the January 2012 Newsletter. Vika is currently finishing her second year of medical college. There are more youth in Illichevsk who need help with funding their transportation needs to and from university in Odessa. Ira Kolosova has stepped down as my assistant, but she has agreed to manage the TS program through her church. Our goal has always been to break the cycle of poverty through higher education. With more support, we can send more students to university, college, or trade school. Even though Illichevsk is a port city, the economy does not benefit the majority of the 62,000 population. Even though scholarships are available to some students in need of help, money for transportation is not. We want to bridge the transportation gap and continue to break the cycle of poverty. For a contribution of $60 a month or two contributions of $30 a month, MUCH could offer another transportation scholarship to a bright young student.
I apologize if you had problems viewing my video last month. (If you are having problems viewing the videos, it will help if you close other programs that are using your RAM [Random Access Memory]) This month I want to share a bit about everyday life in Illichevsk. Take three minutes to experience shopping at the morning market:
Vitalik is a nine-year old boy. He has a father, and two sisters (right). The children all live at the orphanage in Dobromel. When Vitalik was born, it was a difficult labor. The results were mental retardation and speech deficiency.
When Vitalik (left) was three years old, his mother died. His father worked hard to be a good father, raising the three children. Although Vitalik and his sisters live in the orphanage, their father takes them home to be family often. (It is not so normal for most of the children to be loved in this way.)
It is difficult for Vitalik to concentrate in the classroom. His vocabulary is limited; he pronounces all the sounds and words, but most people don’t fully understand the meaning of what he says.
His posture needed some correction, and after one twenty-day course of massage, he showed good progress. Natasha, our massage therapist, will oversee his further physical development.
Sasha (right) is 14 years old; she studies in the sixth grade at the Dobromel orphanage. She has many brothers and sisters. The children grew up in very difficult conditions; the house was cold, dirty, and there was no food for these starving children. The parents did not care about them. The children often experienced violence from their father. When authorities removed parental rights, they put the children younger than six years in the Baby House, and those that were older in several orphanages. The children had frostbite, lice and scabs; they were hungry and very thin. Some of them could not eat or drink on their own. All this had a negative impact upon the psychological development of the children.
Sasha was initially very aggressive. During the time spent in the orphanage, the support of caretakers and the teaching staff helped Sasha begin to recover. Last year, she received her first twenty-day course of massage and most clearly had noticeable changes in her personality and behavior. Natasha’s massage therapy provided love and active attention toward Sasha. This acted as a springboard to accelerate the recovery process.
Sasha became calmer. She likes to sit in the manager’s office and watch her work. The girl sometimes manifests shyness and stiffness, other times she is impulsive and irritable. Sasha needs additional help with education and health care. At this time, she has received three twenty-day courses of therapeutic massage. The entire teaching staff noticed positive changes in the behavior of this girl. How easy it is to break and injure the psychological development and emotions of a child; how hard to recover and heal the wounded.
Last year, when Mark and I went to the village of Froonza, to visit our massage therapy program, we met with the director of the kindergarten because she asked for our help. The problem is that the kindergarten does not have a speech therapist. The government authorities do not provide money in the yearly budget for a speech therapist at this kindergarten. In the kindergarten, there are 104 children: in each of the four groups of 26 children, 25% of the children have a problem with the spoken language. The administration of the kindergarten has a great desire to have a speech therapy program for the children.
There is a young woman (above) who lives in Froonza who wants to work with children as a speech therapist. Angelina is already working in this kindergarten as a teacher (right), and in addition she gives private English lessons at home. Angelina is a beautiful young woman, the daughter of the MUCH manager in the village of Froonza. She grew up in a big wonderful Christian family where there is much love. This family has five children and eight foster children. Angelina has a teacher’s degree and will begin studying speech therapy at the university in September 2013. Her heart burns for the children and she has already started the independent study portion of the program.
The kindergarten director has asked MUCH for help to sponsor a part-time speech therapist (1000 hryvnia or $125 per month). Of course, the administration of the kindergarten will continue to ask the government for funds in their budget for this program. With the financial sponsorship of MUCH, the kindergarten will be able to express the need and document the results. Their goal is that this proof for the government will drive them to action. MUCH recognizes the importance of speech therapy for these children and will consider this request when funds become available.
Living my dream,
In 2002, I answered my calling to move to Ukraine and help the children. At the time, it was not clear how I would help the children, or how I would finance this new life, but I knew that it was my future, the ministry that I waited a lifetime to enter. Many of you have walked down the path with me these past ten years, whether as spectators, prayer warriors, sponsors, or other team members. It has been an amazing journey, and continues to be. I am grateful to all of you for your part in our ministry to the children. God continues to open the doors and we continue to walk through them. Thank you, and may God bless you abundantly.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta