Category Archives: Knowledge

May 2017

Hello family and friends,

Spring has sprung! The gardens are green and growing very well. Grass needs cut and weeds are being pulled. Life in Ukraine is moving forward!

Mark’s Moments

The War Continues

Traveling by train from our home in Mykolaiv to L’viv, and from there to Dobromel by bus, we saw the beauty of Ukraine’s farmland. The more we traveled west, the more peaceful everything seemed. Unfortunately, the war in Eastern Ukraine continues. It takes on a different style every so often. Before the war, Russia controlled gas for home heating, trying to weaken Ukraine. Now, coal is the energy weapon, but it is Ukraine’s own coal that Russia is trying to control.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/28/gunmen-east-ukraine-occupy-donetsk-stadium-amid-standoff-coal/

If you are an honest man working in the Russian government, your days are numbered. Russia has its own form of terrorism.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/23/russia-accused-state-terrorism-ex-mp-shot-dead-ukraine/

The ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia is now in the International Court of Justice. This story is a good update on the progress of the war.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/19/ukrainian-president-says-russia-has-attitude-problem-urges-theresa/

Veleeky Lubin Orphanage


Our bus travel from L’viv to Dobromel passes through Veleeky Lubin. We stopped to visit the orphanage and meet our massage therapist who began in January. Igor has fifteen years of experience with massage therapy. We watched as he gave two of the children massage. He connects with the children very well, calming their anxiousness about physical contact.

As with all of our massage therapists, Igor gave me a massage. This helped me understand his technique. I was impressed.

Ternava Village School

The Ternava school is located three and a half miles from Dobromel. Last year MUCH provided sewing machines to enhance the experience for the children in the sewing class. Sveta and I visited the class to see the children in action. The girl in the back showed me the phone pocket that she sewed with cloth.

I asked the boy what was interesting to him about sewing. He told me in his shy manner. I encouraged him with a story about a man in Ternopol who had a dream to have a sewing factory of his own. I told the boy that this friend of mine is very successful. I saw a light of enthusiasm in his eyes.

The war continues, but MUCH helps Ukraine fight the war with education. We provide educational tools to improve the future of Ukraine. You never know who will influence Ukraine or the world in the next generation of leaders.

Dobromel Orphanage

Last year MUCH provided a number of the items for this hair care class at the orphanage. With the help of other sponsors, the class is in full operation. Although the pupils have the skills to create designer haircuts for the boys, the director forbids it. He is very careful about what may influence the fragile lives of these children.

The new focus at this orphanage is to train the children who will not go on to trade school. If special needs children do not qualify for some type of higher education, then their ability to earn money is very limited. Developing work skills while the children are in the orphanage is a vital aspect for their future.

Sveta’s Journey

Yura, 11 years old, came to the Dobromel orphanage four years ago from the Baby House. When he arrived, he was wild and uncontrollable. His diagnosis is cerebral palsy and kyphoscoliosis. During four years, he received 14 courses of massage therapy. He became calm soon after his first course of massage therapy. Our massage therapists Natasha and Paul see good results after the massage courses. More importantly, the doctors see change in Yura’s overall physical and emotional health.

For two years, Luba, our computer teacher, used a computer tablet to teach simple skills to the less able children. She used training programs designed to teach children with disabilities. Mark and I were very surprised and impressed with how well Yura coped with the tasks! Although he says only a few words, he understands very well! We see great changes in his character, health and intellectual development. This time our hearts were so full of joy for this wonderful child. God, the Defender of orphans, has touched the hearts of an American family to adopt Yura! Soon he will be a part of a family in America!

Luba does an excellent job helping 14 children learn how to use computers and computer tablets on a daily basis. Taking into account the personality and level of development of each child, she prepares tasks for each one of them. Some educational games are more complicated. Some are simple puzzles. The higher skilled children are learning to use the key board with the goal to learning to touch type.

Two years ago, as an experiment we bought one tablet for the computer class. Teaching children to use the tablet has brought tremendous results. It helps Luba give lessons to the children more easily and in an interesting way. After amazing results last year, we bought one more computer tablet for Luba’s classroom.

Last year MUCH bought three additional tablets. Oksana, the defectologist, Melany, the speech therapist, and Julia, the child psychologist each expressed a great interesting to have a tablet to enhance their progress with the children. They are very grateful for these tablets.

Oksana showed us how the children she is preparing for the first grade demonstrated good results using the tablet. Children study colors, count to ten, classify vegetables and fruits, wild and domestic animals, and much more.

Melany, is delighted with the results that children achieve through learning with the programs in the tablet. Children learn much faster and more efficiently. They are very interested in the lessons. The musical reward brings delight to the children when they complete the task correctly. This girl was so stimulated because of the tablet that she began to form sounds and speak simple words.

 

 

 

For these therapists, the computer tablets are a huge help in providing an exciting teaching technique. The children happily showed us what they had learned. They are so proud! They have the confidence that they can do it!

Our time spent with the children was so wonderful! The last evening when we said that tomorrow we will leave, some of the children cried. I remember how every day they pressed themselves with all their heart to us and hugged us. I miss them and love them.

Living my dream,

Sveta

Sveta and I are very grateful to everyone who makes our work possible. The children thank you! Your contributions to MUCH are helping change Ukraine. We are setting examples in healthcare and education. Many teachers and administrators had no hope for change. Now they dream of ways that they can do their job better, change the lives of the children they serve, and change their country, step by step.

Thank you for reading our stories and sharing them with your friends!

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

February 2017

Hello family and friends,

The end of February is bringing sunshine and warmer temperatures. Spring in Ukraine is just around the corner. The trees have been pruned and are beginning to bud. We have already begun a great year with MUCH. Read on to learn more!

Mark’s Moments

IMG_20170207_093010We are very pleased to share the results of the Christmas fundraiser in more detail. The Director of the Ternava Village School sent us pictures of their purchases.

1. We are very happy to have provided medical first-aid supplies that were needed for the nursing station.
IMG_20170222_121210

2. The elementary school children now have ten computer tablets to enhance their learning experience.

3. Three sewing machines and one embroidery machine have expanded the education system for the children from the three villages that IMG_20170201_134057_BURST5attend the Ternava School. Operating sewing and

embroidery machines is not only a skill for girls and women.

You can see in the picture that boys learn to operate the machines also. The textile industry is big in Ukraine.

4. They may not have the interactive board completely installed, but that doesn’t stop their enthusiasm to put the provisions from MUCH to work.IMG_20170222_131128

5. Since I arrived in Ukraine in 2002, eastern and western Ukraine have had an ongoing discussion about which language should be the official language of Ukraine, Russian or Ukrainian. The EuroMaidan conflict in 2014 had nothing to do with language conflict, but as with the Georgian war, Putin decided that language would be a good excuse to involve Russia with Ukraine’s business. At the Ternava school in western Ukraine, the official language, Ukrainian, is being taught with a vengeance. The wall charts will deepen their understanding of the Ukrainian language.
IMG_20170222_1310026. Two great writers and poets of Ukraine, Ivan Franko, and Taras Shevchenko, made powerful and political influences on Ukraine.
Ivan Franko is quoted to the right of his picture, “Language grows with the soul of the people.”
Taras Shevchenko is quoted to the left of his picture, “Learn to read, be proud of your country, learn about other counties and the world.”

IMG_20170207_150708IMG_20170207_150654
 

 

 

 

 

To all who helped make the Christmas Fundraiser a success, the children thank you! The teachers and administration of the Ternava Village School thank you! Sveta and I thank you for helping us promote education here in Ukraine.

Sveta writes some wonderful news about the progress of some of our children in the Massage Therapy Program.

Sveta’s Journey
Massage therapy is the biggest program in MUCH. We continue to pray and give thanks to our Lord for every child who is able to get this help. Through this program, parents see your compassion and participation in the lives of their children. This is very encouraging and supportive for them. In such difficult situations many parents feel lonely.

Chornomorsk
Seven-year old Andrew, (left), struggles with cerebral palsy. He is not alone in his struggle. His parents, Dr. Nataliya, and you, my dear friends walk by his side. You who pray for and sponsor IMG_20170125_110332our work with Andrew, you help him make it through his struggles.

Andrew began his first course of massage therapy in October 2016. He could barely standing without someone giving him support. He could crawl on all fours, and he could jump forward on all fours like a frog.

After a second comprehensive course of massage therapy in January 2017, Andrew learned to walk with canes. You can see his great results in this picture!

 

Dobromel Orphanage
Nick, 12 years old, (right), was diagnosed with urinary incontinence, and a delay in speech development.

Because of these limitations, Nick became very self conscious. He was almost afraid to be around his peers. This caused him to become shy, and often withdrawn, spending time alone. Sometimes he would become aggressive.

Our massage therapist, Paul, began working with Nick. He explained that God loves him and IMG_9598 - Copythat he should not be afraid of his peers. He was told that the other children are the same as him. Each one has a unique difficulty. By the end of the 20-day massage course the boy gained confidence; timidity and indecision disappeared. Paul and Nick established a good friendship. The child began to feel more confident in the environments of his peers.
Nick used to wet his pants in the classroom, and wet the bed at night. Now, such cases are very rare. Quarterly massage therapy courses will also improve his self image and speech. The bladder problem will be corrected completely in the near future.

Children, from two months of age and up to age eighteen get help through the MUCH massage therapy program. Many diagnoses are corrected. It is possible that we may not see the great end results during our part of the child’s life. We see the results that we see, and God continues to walk with each child! God bless each of you and fill your needs in each area of your life!

Living my dream,
Sveta

MUCH continues to grow. We work in five cities and one village, with two more village projects waiting for approval and funding. God continues to open doors, introducing us to the people whom He has prepared to do His work, and glorify His Name through blessing the children of Ukraine.

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