Category Archives: Financial sponsors

February 2018

Hello family and friends,

Our winter in south central Ukraine has been a mild one. February is ending with temperatures dipping to 4 degrees F. Our daughter took her son to school on the sled and used it for shopping on the way home. March will come in like a lion. More snow is on the way before it warms up for spring. True Ukrainians like Sveta, are waiting to get out of the house and into the garden!


Mark’s Moments

As MUCH has grown in fifteen years our sponsorship unfortunately has not. The exchange rate has kept us on track. In 2002 when I moved to Ukraine, the exchange rate was 5 UAH for $1. This month it has been holding at about 27 UAH for $1. You can see the history of the exchange rate for the last five years on this chart.

MUCH support began to grow by word of mouth. Are you sharing with your friends what God is doing through MUCH? We would appreciate if you would!

When I began this mission, I was very shy to ask for support. I told my story and people responded. This seemed to be working. Something changed, maybe the economy. For the last two years, we have been under budget with our monthly contributions. In 2017, our monthly support was $500 below budget. By the end of the year, MUCH was $6,000 below budget in contributions.

Our year-end report shares all that we are doing. To overcome this deficit, we need additional monthly sponsors. If you are reading this newsletter and are not a sponsor, please consider what $10 a month would do to keep our programs on-fire.

$10 a month a ten-day massage therapy treatment for one child — 271 children/year
$25 a month would provide clothing for a child in need — 45 children/year
$33 a month provide transportation to university for one student. — 4 students/year

Donate Now!

This is how I see the work of MUCH. Yes, we are doing God’s work, we are improving the lives and health of children. And that should be enough.

I see more. I see that we are taking steps to prevent the domino theory from becoming more than a theory. We are helping to build better community through reaching out to those in need of healthcare, education, and clothing. We are setting an example of strengthening individuals and family.

Ukraine is a pivotal country. We are helping it grow toward the EU and the West, away from Russian.
In 1992, Russia was part of the Joint Control Commission after the ceasefire agreement of the military conflict between Moldova and the breakaway Transnistrian territory. In 2008, Russian was involved in the Georgian conflict. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. Only months later, Russia assisted the pro-Russian separatists in the war in eastern Ukraine, the Donbass region. Many article have been written to strongly suggest that Putin and the Kremlin want their USSR countries back. I see the theory is more than a theory. The longer the time between conflicts, the less real the theory seems. Russian KGB mentality counts on that.

I believe that the more MUCH helps the people of Ukraine become more active in changing their immediate needs, the stronger the people, as a country, will become. I’m not political. I am only sharing what I see, and why I believe that you would be interested in strengthening Europe, Ukraine, and its people through the work that we are doing.

Sveta’s Journey

Children with mental disabilities experience learning difficulties. They cannot concentrate, read poorly, or have difficulty with memory. Here are a few examples of children who are breaking through their difficulties. They are battling their challenges with the technology of computers and computer tablets!

Kolya is a calm and obedient thirteen-year-old boy. He loves computer lessons. He has difficulty with remembering things, but in spite of this he learns well. In the beginning of the school year, he could not read sentences, or remember where the keyboard letters were located. Kolya studied the locations of all of the letters on the keyboard, learned to read by syllables, and type text from the textbook onto the computer. Success!

Misha studies in the 6th grade and strives to know everything and be able to do everything, but his attention is going in every direction. He always hurries, and in the end does not always succeed. But Luba is very impressed with his success in using the new keyboard program “Mouse Simulator”. Misha learns and remembers the arrangement of letters on the keyboard and simultaneously is learning the letters of the Ukrainian alphabet. He is very happy to study on the computer and often hugs Luba and says, “Thank you, I love you.” Success!

Some children, such as thirteen-year-old Nadya, have become better pupils because of their experience in the computer class. In Nadya’s other classes, her learning skills are changing. She is getting better results. Her attention is improving when she studies, her reading skills are better, and Nadya’s vocabulary is growing. Luba believes that Nadya will improve her intellectual abilities. There is a big possibility for her to begin to think and respond to unconventional situations. Luba sees potential for Nadya to achieve her future goals! Success!

Vova has a diagnosis of alalia-hypoplasia of speech. He cannot speak sentences, only individual sounds. Vova has learned to play on the computer tablet in logic games and therefore it helps him to improve memory, attention, thinking, and fine motor skills of the hands. Success!

Some children are not interested in learning on the computer but only want to play different games. To find unity with these children, Luba created a rule. “After you finish the task that I give you, then and only then, you may play a computer game.”

Yura, has difficulty with his attention span. He quickly looses interest, tears up his lessons, and is constantly distracted. To focus, he had to make a great effort. After massage treatment and exercises, he has good results. Positive impulses increase, aggressiveness decreases, and his psycho-emotional state of mind improves. Computer training together with massage therapy brought a very good result. Success!

Thank you very much Luba, our computer teacher, and our massage therapists Natasha and Paul! Your great patience and love for these special needs children helps them feel accepted and loved. Their work reveals the individual abilities that each child has. For the children in the orphanage, it is very important to have support from people who are nearby. Luba, Natasha and Paul are like loving parents investing in the hearts of the children with love, knowledge, example, rules of behavior and other character building attributes.

Living my dream,


If you see value in what we at MUCH are doing,
If you see the value of Ukraine in the European overview,
Step up to the plate and Donate!

The children thank you! Ukraine thanks you! MUCH thanks you!

You can see all of our videos at our Youtube site

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

September 2016

Hello family and friends,

Our search for God-led people to join our mission continues. We are looking for people to fill the positions of children’s ministry and tech support ministry. If you or someone that you know has a passion for children, please share our website with them. We can be contacted at [email protected]

Sveta and I traveled in September. We rode in the train for nineteen hours from Mykolaiv to Lviv, northwestern Ukraine. There, we met the director of an orphanage for children with disabilities that is located in the village of Veleeky Lubin. He and his driver took us to the orphanage to investigate their needs in respect to the philosophy of MUCH. From there we rode in a bus to Cambir where we changed buses to continue on to Dobromel, a total of two more hours. After spending five days with the children of the Dobromel Orphanage, we rode in a bus to Lviv, and then in the overnight train to Kiev. There we stayed two days with friends who coordinate the Ukraine Challenge mission. It is always good to talk with our friends and other Americans who are visiting on short term mission trips.

Mark’s Moments

Veleeky Lubin
Stepan Yoceepoveech, the director of Veleeky Lubin Orphanage, showed us classrooms, their medical rooms, a fully functional dental room, and the playground. He and his wife, who is the nurse, shared a small lunch with us. Sveta’s and my goal was to see if they had needs similar to dscn3884those at the Dobromel Orphanage. It was very clear to us that they had all of the material equipment that they needed. So, how could MUCH help?

The same as the Dobromel Orphanage, they did not have additional teachers to teach computer classes. They have a beautiful computer room. It seems that the government likes to give the appearance of a fully operational orphanage, but in reality, they are not interested in committing money to the monthly cost of additional teachers for the program. They do not have a massage therapy program for the children, but they do understand the need. We are investigating different possibilities.

For MUCH to begin new programs, after they are approved by the Board of Directors, such as funding a computer teacher and/or a massage therapist, we will need more regular monthly support. The support that operated the clothing program in Marganets that we recently closed will support one massage therapist at $100 per month. We would need an additional $62 per month to support a computer teacher. If you have friends who are passionate about children, particularly children in Ukraine, please share our story with them.

Sveta will share about our time with the children at the Dobromel Orphanage in Sveta’s Journey.

dscn4150Our time in the Kiev area, north central Ukraine, was centered in Voronkiv, at a church camp. The church provides camp for three weeks in the summer for children with disabilities.

Buddy and Janada, coordinators (and much more) of Ukraine Challenge (UC), took us to visit three other churches that UC is sponsoring. These churches are in the process of being built or expanding. It was exciting to see hunger for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these villages and small communities on the edges of cities.
dscn4168 dscn4171 dscn4173
We talked about many things with Buddy and Janada. Most important to me, we talked about our purpose as missionaries in Ukraine. Their twenty-one year of service to Ukraine and our fourteen year of service to Ukraine approach the same goal. We are helping the people of Ukraine help themselves to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ through action and word. It is an honor for me to be a missionary in Ukraine, being part of this country in the midst of change.

Sveta’s Journey
The Dobromel Orphanage is my favorite place of all the places that Mark and I visit. Maybe it is because I lived in the orphanage while I gave the twenty-day massage therapy demonstration that started the program there. I always look forward to meeting with the children and our team of two massage therapists and two teachers for the computer classes. Children greet us, and every day during the week we hug them, talk with them, and take their pictures. Whenever I hug the children, I use this great opportunity to pray for them and bless them. I see in their eyes a big need for love and acceptance.

This year, the Ukrainian Ministry of Education (MOE) has finally created an official computer class and provided a teacher. The program created by the MOE teaches theory only, and is taught only two hours a week. When the teacher began her first class, she was very surprised to see what the children already knew about the practical application of computer. Because she was hired by the MOE, she is required to teach the given curriculum.

Therefore, the two computer teachers, Olga and Luba, supported by MUCH, will continue their work. Our teachers work with the children five days a week for one hour each day. It is important for these children to learn and apply their experience every day. It is so wonderful that Olga and Luba can choose the programs which are necessary for their particular group of children and also create an individual plan for the different learning style of each child.

dscn4034Olga not only teaches children computer skills, but she also encourages each child with hugs and words of encouragement. She builds nice relationships of trust with the children.


Volodya continues to change. I was surprised when I saw this former fidgety, naughty, and wild boy in the computer class. During the whole lesson, Volodya was doing his work patiently and diligently. He was proud and happy to show us the text which he typed. It’s so wonderful to see such a huge change in the lives of these children!

Olga takes a short break in the middle of the lesson. With her fluency in English, she combines learning English words and sentences with physical exercise. The children surprised us with how quickly they grasped what they were taught, in spite of the mental limitations of some of the children. Olga has a great love to help the children. She takes an individual approach with each child.

Luba teaches her computer class in the library. She has a beautiful maternal love and patience for the children. She is instinctive about what programs will help them in the future. In her library, she uses older computers which sometimes lock-up. This causes the children to become upset because they cannot continue their work. They have to turn off the computer and reboot it, taking computer time away from them. When this happens, they look at their classmates with envy.
She also works with two computer tablets provided by MUCH. Luba uses these tablets to work with non-verbal children like Misha. We wrote about him in previous newsletters. This visit he surprised us! He learned several words and began to understand some of the actions that Luba taught him! It is not so easy to teach children like Misha. It requires patience and waiting for the results. Luba has a lot of patience!

With MUCH money we acquired a printer for the library computer class. Children learn to print text and photos with great pleasure!

Olga and Luba began the first month of the school year dsc02793with a review of what they taught last year. It is common for children to forget over the summer what they learned during the previous school year. The children surprised their computer teachers with how much they remembered. It is obvious that the children want to learn how to use the computer. They are very interested in using the computer and are showing great results.

Mark and I saw many physical changes in the orphanage at Dobromel. One example is the newly remodeled adjoining rooms that were created for the massage therapy and exercise programs. A wash basin was also installed in the room for the therapists to wash their hands between massages.

The director of the orphanage always has a vision to improve the quality of life and rehabilitation for the children. The government does not always support his vision financially. With money from MUCH, we helped move some of his projects forward. In future newsletters we will talk more about these projects.

Living my dream,

We thank all of you who make our mission a reality! Without your prayers and financial help we could not carry on with our work.

You can see all of our videos at our Youtube site

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

When You Find a Heart for Children, Nourish it!

Last year a new opportunity arose while visiting Froonza, Crimea. We have a massage therapy clinic there for children with disabilities. It operates in the Center for the Elderly and is located in the kindergarten building in the village. The director of the kindergarten met with Sveta and me, asking if MUCH could sponsor a speech therapist for the kindergarten children. [youtube][/youtube] There is a young woman with a heart to help these children, but she needs to return to university to get her masters degree in Speech Therapy. She is currently an English teacher by University diploma. This story is in our March 2013 Newsletter.

“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 who lives in Froonza who wants to work with children as a speech therapist. Angelina is already working in this kindergarten as a teacher 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. See Fourteen Days with Thirteen Children. Angelina has a teacher’s degree and will begin studying speech therapy in the graduate program 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 rule in Ukraine about receiving government help is that you must be registered in day classes in the regular semester system. Graduate studies do not operate that way. The cost of her Angelina’s tuition is $380 per semester. That is less than we are paying for our Transportation Scholarship Program in Illichevsk. My desire is to offer her a scholarship.

Why is this important? Early intervention is the key to change speech problems that challenge children early in life. The bigger problem in the village is that the medical and therapeutic treatments are minimal. I believe the reason is that the village governments don’t have funding.

This kindergarten needs a speech therapist. Without that support, the optimal time for improving the children’s speech will pass, and their opportunity will be denied. For $80 a month, you can educate a teacher to help the children of the Froonza kindergarten improve their speech.

You can help Angelina with your $10 Click here

March 2013 Newsletter

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.

old on the left, new on the right

old on the left, new on the right

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.

newwBy 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. Click here to read the Vika S. story. She told me her story in 2007, when she was 18 years old.

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. Click here and take three minutes to experience shopping at the morning market.

Sveta’s Journey

P1010192AVitalik 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.

IMG_9266ALast 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.

2Jj8Xz_mVxQAThere 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. (See Mark’s Fourteen Days with Thirteen 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

November 2012 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,

The election is over and a new journey begins. Many Americans do not really understand what people in other countries think of them. I have been living in Ukraine for ten years. You cannot imagine how people would love to be in my shoes, an American citizen, the freedom that Americans have, but many take for granted. May we remember on Thanksgiving Day that as a country, we have much to be thankful for. It is because of the greatness of our country that we help those devastated in Hurricane Sandy, meet their needs, and help them rebuild their lives. The world is watching how we treat our own and how we reach out to others in distant lands.

Our 2012 Christmas Fundraiser is in full swing.

The goal of our Christmas Fundraiser is $4,550.

Boy from Baby House gets a massage
Our focus this year is to add one part-time massage therapist and one part-time computer education teacher at the orphanage in Dobromel. How the government works here in Ukraine is somewhat different from in the USA. The government of this emerging country continues to struggle, voting in laws that they do not or cannot enforce, even after 21 years. The government does understand the needs of the children whom we serve, but they are given a low or sometimes non-existent status. We began this massage program in January to prove the positive results to the director of the orphanage. He was amazed with the results. He, in turn, will share this information with the officials in the L’vov government. If we step up to the plate and open the eyes of the officials with documented evidence, they are more likely to help the children.
Please give us the tools to learn.

Computers are available, but there is not a position in the budget for a teacher. Our goal for the computer program is to provide better visual aids for teaching basic educational concepts to the children most in need. Three of the older boys have no verbal communication. The computer will open new doors for them. We visited many of the classes and have video of the children. To move these children forward, wanting to keep pace with this emerging country, we need to use computer technology to utilize the best means of communication for the educational process.

Help us change the lives of our children!

Sveta’s Journey

For six days in October, we visited the children in the orphanage and the transit home in Marganets. We communicated with them every day, and observed their lives. Mark and I have prepared games for the children to have a fun time. However, what I found out for myself is that children’s games are not so important; it is more important to communicate with them, find out their interests, their desires, and their inner world. They asked many questions, the girls were interested in my life with Mark: How did we meet? How did we interact before we married?
D. Miss Blue Eyes, chats with Mark
They very attentively watched our relationship. D. said, “I would like to find that same kind of husband as Mark for myself.” I think that Mark and I will be a small example for these children of a friendly and happy family, an example of the correct, healthy relationship between husband and wife. I rejoice when I see a positive impact on children. Boys and girls are looking forward to our visits, and with great pleasure spending time communicating with Mark. I see that for them it is very important, and the time of our visit left memories in their hearts. The time of sowing good seeds in the child’s life, which then germinate, will certainly be fruitful.
D. wants to be a hairdresser and a chef. I see that she is a girl with purpose. D. is doing it! She has no parents, she is an orphan, but she has a goal in life and it is wonderful! Mark remembers D. as a little girl and she also remembers him. During this visit, they both remembered their past meetings.

Pedal-powered sewing machine
In the sewing-class, there is just one old foot-powered sewing machine. Of course, there is not time for every girl to learn to work on the sewing machine. Most of the lessons are studying the theory of cutting and sewing.

Hand crafted work of the children

It is too bad that children cannot have practice. Girls also learn to do handmade embroidery, making pictures, pillows, and cross-stitch. We have seen their work – they make very beautiful products. For children with developmental intellectual disabilities there must be an emphasis on teaching practical skills that will help them to live and establish themselves in society.

Click on YouTube in text to see performance
In the Marganets Orphanages, there are teachers who help many children who have talent, develop their gifts. Beautiful Julia has a wonderful voice. Last year, she took part in the competition between children from other orphanages. She was awarded the first place trophy and her song was put on YouTube. Her dream is to study at the School of Arts. It is wonderful that, while living at the orphanage, this girl has found a dream and a vision for her life.

When it came time to leave, and we said goodbye to the children, they did not want to let us go. We also were very sad to leave them. They said that they love us and cannot wait for our return. We told them that the most important thing to us is that they grow up and become good people. Of course, we also love them very much and will miss them!

Living my dream,

MUCH has invested deeply in the lives of the children in Marganets during the past ten years. You have read some of the results of our work above. This Christmas Season, will you help us promote similar compassionate programs in Dobromel? You can make a donation today, online or through the post office. Please help us meet our goal of $4,550 by Christmas!

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

September 2012 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,

Sveta and I have completed our first summer together. We first looked into each other’s eyes on September 5, 2010. She tells me that these two years seem like two months. We are very blessed to have each other as husband and wife, friends, and mission partners.

September 1st is best known in Ukraine as First Bell. This Day of Knowledge rings in the school year with celebration, speeches, and music. Teachers, as the educators, are the heart of education and are highly respected. Education is the heart and backbone of society and the country. The children honor the teachers with flowers and dress in formal clothes for this event. This day is most joyfully celebrated by the first grade children and those who are graduating.

As we have discussed in previous newsletters, MUCH is very concerned about educational opportunities in Ukraine. We are assisting children to attend college and university with our Transportation Scholarship Program. In addition, our efforts inspire the teachers in the orphanages to improve the education program to meet the current and future needs of the children. MUCH has a deep desire to open new doors to a new future for our children in the general education system and for the children with special needs.

Health Care has been our second focus during these fleeting summer months. In the massage programs, most of the children that we work with have some type of Cerebral Palsy. The biggest factor for these children is that as their muscles grow, the muscle imbalance grows non-symmetrically. Correcting the imbalance of the opposing muscles is the main goal, but it is not the complete solution. The weaker muscle must also have a stronger connection with the brain. The signal starting in the brain telling the muscle to move must become balanced with the signal telling the opposing muscles what to do. This remains an ongoing challenge until the child has stopped growing.

Sveta and I have been visiting the different masseuses in our Illichevsk program. Our visits included the MUCH clinic, a private clinic, and a number of home visits. We videoed the massage in progress while discussing the prognosis of the child. Of course, the mother was with the child, allowing us to learn even more about the home life and the parental support and encouragement of the child.

Some of the situations were very disheartening. Some of the children, being under the age of three, were completely immobile and mostly unaware of the environment around them. One child, completely breaking my heart, I believe suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Other children that we visited were showing some signs of progress. When we began treating D. five years ago, she could not balance enough to walk. Now, at eight and a half years old, she walks with 90% balance and attends the regular school system.

Sveta has a heartwarming story about her connection with one of the mothers and her son. I know that you will enjoy reading her story, and I think that you will feel as if you are right there with her.

Sveta’s Journey

Before meeting Mark, I had a normal private life typical of the Ukrainian women: work, adult children who have their own families, grandchildren, parents, and friends. Nevertheless, there was internal dissatisfaction within my life. I wanted something more, but I did not know what. I learned this after living with Mark as his wife. My life began to be more beautiful when I started to serve the children in the orphanage and to help my beautiful husband in his mission at large.

Before I started giving the children massage, I was not aware that special-needs children existed. At the Dobromel Orphanage, as I was introduced to many children with many different special-needs, I began having great conversations with them. I saw their lives closer and more personal, causing a deep compassion for them. I loved these children very much.

My first massage experience with special needs children was in the Dobromel Orphanage last year in October before Mark and I were married. Mark saw the needs of massage for these children on previous visits. He talked with the director of the orphanage and proposed a massage program for children. He proposed a twenty-day massage demonstration with me and another masseuse, who is also an exercise therapist. The director agreed with one condition – that he would see results. The results were almost immediate, and the new exercise therapist/masseuse of the orphanage continues to see good results. Your support of our massage program makes this possible to continue.

During the first two weeks of a four-week stay, with Mark in America, I longed for my family. The whole night I was crying in my room on an uncomfortable bed with a metal mesh spring system. (I placed a wooden shelf from the cabinet to support the spring system). I wanted to go home to my children and grandchildren. I was miserable while away from my family. At this point, the thought occurred to me, “What about the
children who live in this boarding school/orphanage, many who do not have parents? What are they feeling? I can go home and be with my family; I have hope, but these children have no hope. What is their future?” My tears dried up immediately.

God gave me the opportunity to enjoy and understand the lives of the children in the orphanage. How great is their desire to be in a family, to be loved, to have a corner with toys, a cat, or a dog. Every evening, different children came to visit me and I treated them to sweets or cookies. They sat down on my bed and I talked with the children. They asked many questions and loved being photographed.

This month, Mark and I visited a family who has a child with a disability. This boy, D., is 3.3 years old. For two years, the doctors were afraid to prescribe massage for this seriously ill child, but his mother, L., was insistent and she begged for a massage appointment. The child cannot sit, stand, or roll over. He is only making small movements with his arms and legs. He looks at us with his beautiful blue eyes and long lashes. When you start talking to him, he smiles. D. can only eat food mashed through a blender. He does not have chewing reflex and can only swallow. His mother feeds him every 4 hours.
D began receiving massage 15 months ago. L. excitedly told us about the results. After each course of massage the child becomes calmer, the intensity of his epileptic seizures is reduced, and his muscles are relaxed. The soul of this child lives in a body that has multiple developmental disabilities. He cannot move but he has emotions and feelings. D. loves when L. holds him in her arms. Now he has a new reaction. Instead of only whimpering when he is unhappy, his face has begun to express emotion. He is now able to understand. He can be offended and this emotion is expressed in his face, and he begins to cry.
The doctors offered to operate on D’s. brain now that he is older, but it is an expensive operation and they do not give a guarantee for improvement. The government provided a special wheelchair, but it is very heavy and awkward to use. It is uncomfortable for the child, so L. rarely takes D. on the street for a walk and some fresh air, and her circle of friends is limited. She spends all of her time with her child, taking care of him.

L. was happy to meet us. We made friends with her and her beautiful little boy. Because she carries D. so much of the time, holding him in her arms, she has developed a severe forward curve in her back. I gave L. a 10-day massage in our home that yielded good results. With tears in her eyes, the young woman thanked Mark and you, dear friends, for your attention to her son, and for your help. Since she cannot bring her son to the clinic, our masseuse goes to their home and gives D. a massage on the kitchen table. L. was very touched that complete strangers would help her, and although she is optimistic about the difficult situation in her life, at that moment she was crying.

Communication with other people in such families is limited. Families with healthy children have a very busy pace of life and they have no time to pay attention to such families. Mark and I have decided to share our time periodically with families who have children with disabilities, to give them our attention, care, and to support parents and children in the realization of their personal and family projects. My time will provide massage for mothers, and other helpful activities, depending on the circumstances of families.

It remains amazing to me how people from America, who certainly have their own problems and difficulties, desire to help children in Ukraine. God bless you for your participation in these good works. I believe in the power of God’s love flowing through Mark, me, and you. I thank God for all that He does.

I am grateful to the disabled children who I met in my life. They helped me develop a new heart and new eyes to see their world and to see my life with new purpose and meaning.

Living my dream,

Sveta and I will be with the children in Dobromel in the last days of September. Additional heartwarming stories will be coming your way.

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta