Hello family and friends,
My time in Pennsylvania was an opportunity to open new doors in my hometown churches, community and at my alma mater, Slippery Rock University. I made contact with six churches, met with key people in two and spoke at an outreach program of one. While visiting Slippery Rock University, I met with the Chairman of the Special Education Department and one of the campus ministers. In addition, I met with the Director of Campus Ministries at Grove City College, not far from Slippery Rock.
A week in Florida provided an opportunity to speak with people at a retirement community and grade school children at a Christian School. Each day I shared a meal with four to six sponsors or potential sponsors. It was a short visit, but new doors open each time I go to Florida.
With my time in America well spent, I am moving forward here in Ukraine. I will be heading to Dobromel, meeting up with Sveta, my fiancé, and spending two weeks living at the orphanage, as she is, interacting with the children and evaluating the massage demonstration project. This will be the first time that I will have the opportunity to spend more than two hours with the children on a single visit. Sveta shared with me the good results that she is seeing. She has documented these with photographs and video. She tells me there are many more children with physical disabilities than I previously thought. I knew there was a need for massage therapy at this orphanage, but it seems that some of the children were able to hide their physical challenges from plain view.
Next month Sveta will write about her time with the children in Dobromel during October. Get ready for an eye-opening story. Until then, Ira wants to share more about the children with you.
The boy about whom I am going to tell you was born with cerebral palsy and was often left alone at home by his alcoholic mother. But God had a different plan for his life. A Christian family took him into their family through the Foster Care Program when he was 8 years old. The boy’s name is Kolya. Today he is 14 years old, and this child has brothers, sisters and loving foster parents.
Foster Care Program is a little bit different system in our country than in America. A foster child may live with foster parents as many years as foster parents want, until he/she is 18, or if foster children are adopted, or if her/his biological parents correct their life and then they may take their children back. But the last thing happens very rarely in our country. I have never heard of parents who took their children back from foster family.
Being born with cerebral palsy, Kolya couldn’t walk normally. He had a severe spasticity with the knee extensors. For many years, he crawled better than he walked with two forearm crutches. It was a real challenge for him when children of his age started school. He wanted to go to school as they did, run and play football as they did, but unfortunately, he couldn’t.
More than one year ago a real help – free Massage Clinic – was provided by MUCH for Kolya and some other children with similar problems who live in that small village of Froonza in Crimea. This clinic is a real encouragement for the mothers whose children have benefited from massage program.
Kolya’s foster mother also keeps talking of his progress each time when I speak to her by the phone. She says that his masseur, Slavik, has a great hope that Kolya will walk without crutches. Today Kolya can see his good results. He is very proud of them and very thankful to those who helped this program be started.
His left leg is not as twisted as it was one year before. Now Kolya can manipulate with his left knee more freely. His legs have been strengthened – some muscles have appeared on his calves and, as a result, his legs are straighter, and he stands taller.
The masseur advised the foster mother to get an adjustable cast. That will help Kolya to make his legs straighter. This adjustable cast costs about $100 and for now, the family isn’t able to get it because of some financial needs of the other 11 children.
Now Kolya is learning to walk with the help of only one crutch and can already make several steps. It might seem for someone not to be big progress, but, for Kolya and his foster mother, it is a big victory on the way to their dream.
Until next time,
Our Christmas Fundraiser kicked off last month. To recap, our goal is to raise $5,000, enough to operate the massage programs for the next year at the Dobromel Orphanage and at the village of Froonza. The operation of these two programs is dependent on the funds raised through the Christmas Fundraiser. Each program will provide massage five days a week for children with physical disabilities. Without our help, these children have no opportunity to receive massage treatment, no opportunity to improve their physical condition. Sveta told me by phone that one boy at the orphanage comes to her door every evening to ask to be included in the massage program. Our program there is designed to help each of four children with the most severe problems with 20 massages in a month, but Sveta has already worked with an additional eleven children to some degree during her first ten days. The need is great, but we need your help to help the children. If the children’s needs are touching your heart this Christmas season, please mark your contribution “Christmas Fundraiser.”
Blessings of love and healing,