Category Archives: Health Care

January 2020

Hello family and friends,

Sveta and I wish you a happy and holy new year. May 2020 give you direction, new adventures, compassion for others, and love that will lead your every step of each day.

We would like to begin the year with a story of hope. Jana, a mother of two boys with cerebral palsy, would not give up her search for treatment for her children. Here is her story.

Sveta’s Journey

Dan and Nik

The journey of six-year-old twins, Dan and Nik, has been a long one. Dan and Nik had a difficult birth. Both children were diagnosed with cerebral palsy of varying degrees.

For six years, Jana, the boys’ mother, has been taking her boys to every hospital, and medical and rehabilitation center that she could find. Throughout Ukraine, her experience was that each doctor and massage therapist treated her boys with the same systematic approach. They read the diagnosis, and prescribed the same treatment for the child without ever touching the child. Can you imagine the single mindedness of this post-soviet medical system?

Finally, after six years of searching for a better approach, Jana heard about “ФИЗРУК-Центр”, the facility in Chornomorsk, founded by MUCH’s Dr. Natalia. She called and set up an appointment for evaluation and treatment. Jana, Dan, and Nik, living three hundred and fifty miles east of Chornomorsk, set out on their adventure. After traveling in a couple of buses, the twelve hour over-night train, and more busses and a taxi, they arrived at “ФИЗРУК-Центр”! They were hopeful that they would find better answers here.

From the first visit with Dr. Natalia, Jana was impressed by the integrated and individual approach that the doctor had with each of her sons. The massage therapy that Dr. Natalia does is radically different from the massage therapy that Dan and Nik received in other institutions designed to treat children with cerebral palsy.

Dr. Natalia even takes into account subtleties such as: If she puts Dan on the massage table, his arms and legs will be involuntarily bent, his body muscles will be contracted and strained even more. In this position, doing massage therapy, stretching muscles or exercising joints will not have any effect. Dan is afraid of heights, even the height of the massage table. The child is fearful of many things. Fear increases the spasticity in his muscles even more. When he is on Natalia’s lap, he is calm, and she can work effectively with him. Therefore, after she found a position where Dan’s muscles were relaxed as much as possible, she proceeded with the massage therapy treatment. In this position, it is also easier to twist his spine side to side. Dan has a unique response to positioning. Dr. Natalia can cause a reaction by putting him in a certain position.
One specific therapy that Dr. Natalya is using is a preventative therapy for Dan’s feet. She is working on muscles of Dan’s feet and toes to avoid the development of high arched foot.

Nik, Dan’s brother, became friends with Natalia from the first day. After massage therapy and special exercises, he was busy collecting beans in a bowl. He also showed us how he can stand on his own. Nik was very happy to show us what he was capable of doing!

The boys’ mother shared with us her pain. She could not hold back her tears. For six years, she has been fighting for the future of her sons. We cannot fully understand her pain and the difficulties of her search for treatment for her sons. But we can support her, Dan, and Nik, with our prayers and finance.

Thank you for helping children such as Dan and Nik, and many others! See their two minute video here.

Living my dream,

Sveta

Mark’s Moments

Our Christmas fundraiser results were $1900. I had hoped for more, but maybe I didn’t explain our fundraiser very well. We anticipate our total monthly budget for 2020 to be $2,391.60 per month. My goal was to try to raise as much as possible for the massage therapy program. Beginning in March, we will have fourteen active massage therapists. The anticipated three more in a new location are not in the budget.

The MUCH goal for the massage therapy program may be different in the big picture than I have expressed in the past. I have stated previously that we want to provide examples for the people of Ukraine to reach out and care for their own people. My specific goals are playing out in the way. We provide funds to train massage therapists. Once trained, they practice their new skills with friends and family, building ability and confidence.

As they practice massage therapy, word of mouth advertisement begins, also sharing that they are interested in working with special needs children. MUCH helps with partial payment for four special needs children per month. In private practice, massage therapists can work out of their own homes, but for special needs children, home visits are preferred. Our massage therapists need more than what MUCH provides, so they charge the parents for the balance. The massage therapists working in the orphanages are limited to MUCH payment, but are encouraged to develop their own private practice.

Our goal of four children with special needs per month allows each massage therapist to build a clientele of four additional full paying clients. Depending on the energy level of the massage therapist, one could presumably treat sixteen clients in a month. If they receive a ten day massage treatment, eight clients for each ten day treatment, times two equals sixteen clients in twenty days.

What does this additional business have to do with MUCH? We are not only involved in bringing healthcare to children with special needs. We are inspiring entrepreneurism in heath-care service. MUCH is opening doors that are changing the face of Ukraine, one massage therapist at a time.

Most of the families that we help with our partial payments have big financial needs for their children’s medical treatment. Your contribution is a big help for the family. You are not solving their problem, but you are helping them on their way. “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat.” (Matthew 25:35)

Thank you so much for your contributions. If you don’t contribute, please consider what $22 a month will mean for a child with a disability in an orphanage. MUCH serves children with disabilities in three orphanages and a transition home: Dobromel, Veleeky Lubin, Stepovoya, and Marganets. Your $22 gift will provide a ten-day massage treatment for one child! Thank you! The children thank you!

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

You can see all of our videos at our Youtube site http://www.youtube.com/user/smmuch

July 2017

Hello family and friends,

Sveta and I are working on many projects as the summer races by. Our eight-year-old grandchild, Sonya, enjoys helping Sveta harvest the onions and green beans. I am making progress on the exterior insulation. The other morning I went to the church that we attend and help stack wood for the winter heating system. We have a circulating hot water heated floor system. The cost of gas is too high, so few years ago, the church turned to wood heating.

Mark’s Moments

In last month’s newsletter, I shared some of the process of how MUCH has grown over the past fifteen years. On a more personal and spiritual level, the grassroots process is like this. I listen for the voice of God. When I am clear that it is His voice, His direction, then I do what He says.

Last year, God put three more village schools on my heart to assist with their education needs. Sveta and I investigated each school, talked with the director, and evaluated the need. We looked at the physical condition of the school, the classrooms, and the floors, to understand the governments lack of interest in the school, and the administration and teachers interest in the school.

In each of these three schools, it was clear that the teachers were investing what they could, to do the best that they could for the students. Unfortunately, the teachers don’t make enough money to make a significant contribution.

Will the next Galileo come from a Ukrainian village? Let’s invest in them and find out! This may be a three year project for each school. Fortunately, MUCH has funds to begin the project. Our first provision will be for September 1,2017. Please begin to pray for the success of these projects.

Here are some details that may help you understand the common needs that we find is each village school.

Northwest Ukraine, on the border of Poland — Migovo Village School

 

 

 

 

 

This is the building for the high school children. There are four or five classrooms in this building. If you walk further up the hill behind me, you will see Poland. — In this Chemistry classroom, the director of the school stands toward the front of the class.

The teacher who approached me about help for this school was very shy to talk with me. When she finally got up the courage to ask for help, she only asked for one computer, their greatest need. We talked some more, and Sveta and I agreed to visit the school the following day. We rode in an old car on dirt roads that were peppered with potholes.

When we visited the chemistry class, we learned that nothing had been updated or provided since Soviet times, at least twenty-six years ago. Two new windows and four desks were provided by the directors relative as a gift. The government has done nothing for this school.

South central Ukraine, northeast of our city of Mykolaiv — Shostakovo Village School

 

Between Sveta and I stands the director of the Shostakovo school. To the right of Sveta is Dasha, the first grade teacher. This school of about seventy children is a little better than Migovo. They do have a computer. The Chemistry class at this school is a big room with some technology, but no chemicals to do experiments. The gymnasium is in the “dungeon” of the school. They need sports equipment and some items as simple as jump rope. When we visited in early spring, it was very cold in the gymnasium.

I talked to the director about resurfacing the blackboards with blackboard paint. I asked if they would do a test blackboard. She looked at me with big eyes and said, “We will be happy to do it over the summer.” This school is focusing on building maintenance in the following way. At the end of last school year, the parents of each class pooled their money to buy a new door for their children’s classroom. The parents of Dasha’s first grade class of six students needed outside assistance to come up with the money for their classroom door. Dasha uses her personal computer to inspire her class.

South east central Ukraine, north of Marganets — Maximovka Village School

I first visited this school a number of years ago to talk with the children in the English class. The teacher was my translator at the time, and is now our manager in Marganets. This young woman was very aggressive about creativity for her English classes.

Dissatisfied with the English material available, Inna created her own English study book and teachers manual. Some of the teachers bring their personal computers to enhance the classroom experience.

On our last visit, I talked with the director about the education equipment needs of the school. She showed us the school, stopping in different classes in progress. It was clear that the school was not a big concern of the local government. The Chemistry class was in need of chemicals for experiments, like the other schools.

Each class on every grade level is in need of many items of education equipment and materials. It was that way with Marganets School #3 and Ternava schools that MUCH has helped in the past. This is why MUCH always has children waiting for help, whether in education or healthcare. The government is in a state of change, as is the country.

It seems that the needs are pretty much the same wherever we go. Decentralization of the government is bringing control of spending to the local government. We are seeing road repair happening, but education does not seem to be such a great need.

I see change happening in Ukraine, although it is slow. The Ukraine Economic Update – April 2017 by the World Bank shows progress of the Ukrainian economy. The article and video at the bottom are very informative.

Sveta’s Journey

In Chornomorsk, Dr. Natalia continues to show progress with the children providing wonderful results. Mark and I watched how the children worked at following all the instructions of the massage therapist and coach with great desire. Children want to walk and run as other children do. They want to be with other children in kindergarten and go to school. They want to draw and do everything that healthy children can do. We see a huge thirst in their eyes and they are ready to work to change their lives. But they need help and encouragement from their parents and others. Thank all of you for helping the children in an invisible way. God sees your works of mercy through MUCH.

Last month, the parents of six-year-old George, carried him to the clinic to receive massage therapy. The boy has cerebral palsy, increased spasm in the legs, and he cannot walk on his own. After a 15-day course of massage therapy, ozocerite (black wax) applications, and special physical training, the spastic action in his muscles decreased. George can now walk a short distance using both hands for support! This was the first course of massage therapy for him. Dr. Natalia sees that the boy has a positive dynamic and it is necessary to continue receiving massage therapy. Thank you Dr. Natalia for your passion to help children.

For five-year-old Ann with the diagnosis of cerebral palsy, massage therapy began in January 2016. During this time the girl received nine courses of massage therapy. To date, Ann is already confidently sitting in an Indian pose with a flat back. She is sitting on balance board that rocks from side to side. You can see the difficulty for her to stay sitting upright. Day by day, Ann is painfully making progress.

She grasps objects very well with her right hand, but her left hand does not open so well yet. Ann has decreased the tone of tense muscles and her speech significantly improved. In this picture her task is to raise the bar with both hands to the level that Valya requests. The exercise program that parallels the massage therapy and other treatments is one big key to Ann’s progress.

 

Do you remember when your child began to crawl? The natural process begins at about seven months old. This is not the case for many of the children that we work with. Ann is five-years-old and must be taught the process. Valya is breaking down the activity into steps. Put this hand here first, then move this knee here …

Thank you sponsors for helping make this treatment possible for Ann!

Parents are deeply grateful that their children have the opportunity to receive a massage therapy!

Living my dream,

Sveta

One of our massage therapists may retire in the near future. We ask for your prayers for provision of her replacement.

You can see all of our videos at our Youtube site http://www.youtube.com/user/smmuch

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

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