Hello family and friends,
October began with a pleasant visit with the children at the Dobromel Orphanage in Northwestern Ukraine. The weather was cool and the leaves of many colors were falling. October is my favorite month of the year.
This beautiful mural was painted on the wall of the children’s playroom by one of the teachers. Sveta and I stayed in this large room on our last visit and this visit, also. A bunk bed was brought for us to sleep in. I was pleased that I could stretch all of my six-foot plus inches out on this bed. My thirty-six year old sleeping bag continues to serve me well.
It pleased Sveta and me very much to see Natasha, the massage therapist, taking seven of the older children to church Sunday morning. This Greek Catholic church was packed to the door. A sound system helped the people outside hear the mass celebration. We see positive change taking place each time that we visit!
When Mark and I came to the Dobromel Orphanage, the children greeted us with joy, open arms, and the questions “How long will you stay with us? Did you bring pictures for us?”
Like last time, we lived in the children’s playroom. The new six-year-old boy from the Baby House was crying loudly and did not want to leave the playroom in which we stayed. Each time when he was close to the door at the time we returned to the room, he quickly slipped through the door, ran to the couch, and quickly jumped up on it. He sat, with his arms folded across his chest, showing that no one would move him. Two days later, he got used to Mark and me as visitors and the room would temporarily belong to us. Then we became friends and he loved to pose when we photographed him.
Mark and I lived with the children and saw their lives, their relationships with each other, and with the teachers. Early in the morning we woke to the loud voice of the caretakers saying, “One, two, one two three…” The older children help take care of the younger ones. They try to discipline the younger children, or care for them imitating grown-ups. The older girls braided each other’s hair into pretty pigtails. It is like a big family. Sometimes there are misunderstandings and conflicts, but they are quickly settled.
I really like the atmosphere in the orphanage. There is a healthy atmosphere of love and discipline. The sunny Saturday called the boys to collect the fallen leaves around the orphanage, while the girls put things in order in their rooms.
Each visit I see a change for the better in the lives of the children who came from the Baby House or other orphanages. I attribute much of this to the results of the massage program.
I have repeatedly written about a boy, now seven years old, who came to this orphanage from the Baby House last year. During this period, there have been many striking changes in the physical condition of this child, particularly in the psycho-emotional and social aspects. After several courses of massage, his hunched back is almost straight and his mind is improved. He is quiet, peaceful, and has become a very sociable boy, even though he cannot speak. Positive environment and therapeutic massage have had a large effect on him.
While we were in the orphanage, the Day of the Teacher was celebrated. One of the teachers organized a program with the children to honor the teachers with song, dance, and bouquets of flowers made from balloons. It was exciting and fun! Even the small children who were sitting in the front row were very attentive to the presentation. They gladly listened and watched everything. I liked the fact that the organizer was not noticeable, she was behind the columnand just watched, and the children led the program. It seemed that the children prepared and did everything without the participation of adults. They sang songs dedicated to teachers, recited poems, teachers were handed flowers – balloons and little hearts with candy inside, spoke words of gratitude for their work. In the eyes of a teacher near where I stood, tears were visible.
Thank you very much for your support of the massage program! It brings me great joy to the realization that during our stay at the orphanage, we can share the love of God with the children. I believe that your help also brings you great satisfaction and joy.
Living my dream,
There are many more stories to tell, and we will. Sveta’s and my life have begun a new chapter. We are adjusting to our living conditions in the village. This reminds me of something that I was told when I first came to Ukraine. I was concerned during my first year here that I didn’t have enough work. My friend said, “Mark, living in Ukraine is work!” Getting the newsletter to you this month has become a task. After working on it in Dobromel, I had it completed and ready to do a final proof when my computer crashed a day after returning from Dobromel. The last week in October, we will go to Marganets and Froonza.
I think of how worn out Sveta and I are after travel; we are not the jet-set trekkers, or rather in Ukraine, the train and bus travelers. Then I think of the faces of the children and their joy that our visits bring, and I see our lives in bright light again. Having lived with the children at the orphanage, we saw their every moment of difficulty, loneliness, discomfort, and hopelessness. The help of the new director at the Dobromel Orphanage and his staff, other sponsors, Sveta and me, and you, my friends, make it possible to change the futures of these children. It is my desire that through our newsletters, videos, pictures, and stories, you will better understand the plight of the children without your financial and prayerful help.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta