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Hello family and friends,

April 15th has come and gone. In America, that means tax day, stress, extensions, late fees, and more stress. In Ukraine, April 15th is the day the city turns off the heat and hot water. That is, for cities that have a good enough economy to run the citywide boiler system that provide home heating and hot water for washing dishes, clothes, and bodies. After 10 years of living with this system, I still dread the cold days ahead without heat in my home. My Siberian-raised wife meets each morning with a smile as she opens the window and enjoys the fresh air. Fortunately, my life is not about my comfort. I think of the children in the orphanages and those at home with disabilities that affect their body’s regulation of temperature and blood circulation. I think of the department head at the clinic who tells our masseuses not to use the electric heater to make our little massage room warm for the children and infants. Sveta and I are here to change what we can, and to help our readers understand the conditions that we cannot change. With this concept in mind, I will share some statistics and numbers with you.

Your gifts bought these nice clothes.

A friend from Wisconsin visited us a few weeks ago. As we discussed MUCH ministries, which he has been following for ten years, I began to realize that I have not shared many of the details of how money is spent on the children to improve the quality of their lives. I have told stories of what we did, but I have failed to draw a picture, or maybe create a mathematical equation of the magnitude of what we have done with so little money.

I began my first outreach in June of 2002 in Marganets at the Orphanage for Children with Physical and Mental Disabilities. The Ukrainian government has a book for orphanage directors that schedules how many articles of clothing a child may receive each year. Two examples are that each child is entitled to one pair of shoes every two years and two pair of socks each year. The schedule continues in a similar fashion for other clothing items. It took MUCH six years to meet the basic clothing needs of all of the children, bringing the ongoing needs to a maintenance level. I allocated $100 per month to buy clothing and shoes for the children. The exchange rate at that time was $1 for every 5 grevnya. From 2002 until 2007, the economy was changing slowly and the dollar was able to buy many items of clothing for a small amount. My manager in Marganets was buying very large amounts of clothing for 500 grevnya. By 2007, we could buy a set of clothes (underclothes, socks, shirt, pants, and shoes) for a child of average age and size for $14.

The following year brought two factors that changed our buying power. To our advantage, the exchange rate rose in our favor to $1 for every 8 grevnya. This was good for MUCH but the cost of living increased also. The prices rose to parallel, and even exceed, the exchange rate adjustment. Second, the worldwide economic crisis brought a great challenge to us on both sides of the Atlantic.

You are looking at major self-image improvements!

As the years advanced, prices continued to rise. We learned early on that the quality of clothing was as important as the price. Ukrainian-made clothing is of poor quality because the machinery has not been modernized. The government still has control of part of the businesses. Our other choices of affordable clothing for our children come from China or Turkey. Our experience is that clothing made in Turkey is of a better quality and lasts longer. That brings us to 2011, when we increased our allocation to 1600 grevnya per month. Last year, we were able to clothe a child of average age and size for about $40. This suggests an increase of 13% each year for the cost of clothing during the past five years. Below is the list of clothing items that we bought over twelve months. The total cost in 2011 was $1775. Below is the list items purchased last year for the 156 children at the orphanage for children with disabilities in Marganets.

21 Jackets: $211.25
30 T-shirts: $154.50
7 Pair of Jeans: $186.25
1 Pair of leggings: $3.13
2 Dresses: $66.25
3 Pair of shorts: $20.00
2 Pair of sandals: $27.88
1 Dressy T-shirt: $6.25
2 Swimsuits: $39.37
40 Pair of shoes: $692.50
2 Jumpers: $16.25
7 Sweaters: $71.87
2 Pair of sneakers: $20.00
2 Pair of pants: $27.50
4 Pair of tights: $5.00
10 Pair of socks: $5.00
4 Ball caps: $17.50
3 Pair of boots: $125.00
2 Coats: $31.25
1 Pair of mittens: $3.25
4 Travel bags: $45.00

This is an example of how we spent the funds that we receive from our sponsors. We have five other outreach ministries that help a total of about 500 children in three cities and two villages. It is big work needing big sponsorship.

Here is Sveta’ article to share a story or two from a different angle.

Sveta’s Journey

For eight years running, one of the programs of MUCH helps children with disabilities using massage. Special attention is paid to the early intervention of children from the age of one month old. This is the time to start doing massage; you can fix many of the children’s problems. Close collaboration with the child neurologist, the masseuses of MUCH mission have shown excellent results. We call this early intervention, when the doctor sees the problem, she immediately prescribes a course of massage for the baby. The formation of the skeleton in its infancy is the most active and massage makes it possible to correct the defects of the bone and muscular systems, to send the physical development of children in the right direction.

Many children are placed on special observation in the clinic because they have a congenital dislocation of the joints or other problems. After the age of one year, doctors removed the children from the observations as they have received a full recovery. This is a great help for future productivity in the lives of the children.

N. has made great progress.

We recently met with a woman in Illichevsk whose granddaughter, N., was one of the first patients of the MUCH massage program in 2004. Her mother was living in the Chernobyl area during the disaster of 1986.

N. has struggled with a brain tumor, leaving her with a form of Cerebral Palsy. Now, she is18. Her grandmother told me enthusiastically that she will finish college this spring and will study at the university. The woman’s face shone with happiness and she is very grateful to Mark. Through massage, Nastya recovered balance in her muscular system and only a small difference in her physical condition is visible. She blends in with the other girls well. When Mark and I walk through Illichevsk, we meet grandmothers or mothers whose children were or are receiving massage courses. I can see in their eyes the gratitude for the fact that there is a person who cares about their children.

Mark has a photo archive of the children who received massage during the years. I looked through the photos and videos for all the years of the mission to see the results of many of the children. After years of work, the masseurs were very fruitful with many of the children.

During the birth of twins, one of them, Di., suffered a birth trauma – the result was a 4th degree hearing loss and as a consequence, the child is lagging behind in development. After several courses of massage mom sees improvement – the girl began to hear better, repeats vowel sounds, murmurs, she has become calmer, and has improved sleep and appetite. – In December 2011, Di. received the first course of treatment for hearing loss at the institute in another city. It cost $1,000. The second and third phase of treatment requires an additional $1000 each. This is a very large sum for this family. Her mom asked Mark to help her, but currently the mission is unable to allocate these large sums.

Only one of the problems this child will face.

D. , age 11 months, was born with his left ear incompletely formed – the ear canal is closed, his head slightly miss-shaped, and perhaps these problems will affect the development of the child’s speech and mental development.

Doctors recommend surgery when the child is 3 years. Until that time, massage will help the normal development of the child, stimulating the brain. We can evaluate the child during this time and divert other possible developmental problems.

We all begin life needing a helping hand.

L. is 1 year and 5 months old. Even at this age, she has disabilities: psychomotor delay, hemiplegia, diabetes, insulin dependence of the first degree.

L. cannot sit or walk, one leg is shorter than the other by 1 centimeter, and her head is slightly deformed. The girl’s father left the family. The grandmother cares for the child. This young mother sits in her office with an indifferent eye; she is in despair and depression. All her dreams of a beautiful life collapsed with the birth of this disabled child. A lot of money and time is required to see progress in the life of this child. They have visited an osteopath, for a treatment that cost $100. Because of the great number of procedures, the family has no money. The grandmother is looking at massage as an affordable treatment at the MUCH clinic, with hope that they will see some results.

My dream is that all children will be healthy. When I see a disabled child, the question arises in my heart: What can I do for them? How can they be helped? Help for them is a prayer to God. I want to show them God’s love through our hearts. I dream that you, my dear friends, will see a little part of the lives of these children, that you may allocate a place in your hearts for these precious souls.

Thank you that you have supported this program for eight years. Because of this, many children receive full recovery; massage brings a partial recovery to others. We see good progress because children begin to do what they could not do before the massage (such as: better walking, talking sitting, standing, range of motion and speech, to mention the most obvious).

Your support helps us provide these and other services for more than 500 children across Ukraine. Twice a year, we visit the children in the programs in Dobromel, Marganets, and Froonza. Because we live in Illichevsk, we have greater opportunity to see the needs of those children. I feel great joy at the thoughts of what we do, what our teams do, and the growing mission because of God’s grace. The most important thing – it is priceless to every human soul. Remember and think about the happiness and welfare of others.

Living my dream,


Sveta and I visited the children at the Dobromel Orphanage in the end of April. Next month’s newsletter will share exciting news about the children and the massage program. It is the fifth massage program that MUCH initiated, beginning in January of 2012. – As always, thank you for your prayers and financial support!

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

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