Category Archives: Massage for children with disabilities

August 2020

Hello family and friends,

Our long, hot, summer has come to an end. It has been the most interesting one in all of my years in Ukraine. In the July Newsletter I wrote about our long term ministry plans for the property. Our first step was to add a second story with roof. After working with two contractors, we finally found some workers who wanted to work continuously.

The front wall with three window seats and the back wall are waiting for the beltway that will be finished by September 10. The back wall will continue upward, creating a vaulted roof and ceiling. Down the road, we anticipate solar panels on the roof. This is becoming very popular here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had water damage on the first floor in June after the roof was removed. Until last night, we had very hot days. More rain visited us until this morning. A small area in the bathroom was leaking, but nowhere else.

I came down with a fever at the end of August. While caring for me, Sveta also acquired the same illness. While I continue to regain my strength after nine days, Sveta, that strong Ukrainian woman, bounced back within three days! God is good!

Mark’s Moments

COVID-19 has not stopped the work of our massage therapists. It has stopped our growth and reduced our support in the first half of 2020. We had three people ready for massage therapy training, but this has not developed because of COVID-19 and MUCH shortage of funds.

In our February Newsletter, we told about a couple working with 400 children in the Happy Family program. They were ready for massage therapists, but COVID-19 got in the way.

A friend of ours from Poltava knows someone interested in massage therapy, but MUCH funding is not available at this time.

All other activities of MUCH continued during the first half of 2020 as in every other year. It seems that this fever that Sveta and I had, is going around in Ukraine. You can pray for our manager Ira Kolosova. She has a fever at this writing.

It is difficult to say much about COVID-19 in Ukraine. The infection rate continues to climb, but new cases are requiring new rules. Our border has closed to foreigners. The regions are regulated according severity of illness. Mykolaiv region remains on the safer side of danger. I visited a virtual Home Town meeting by the American Embassy in Ukraine the other day. In general, things are better in Ukraine than many other European countries, as I understand it.

Green

Sveta’s Journey

Mark and I planned to visit several families with disabled children who receive massage therapy under our MUCH program in our city of Mykolaiv. We thought that by September COVID-19 would be under control. Parents invited us to meet them and their children. But since the quarantine was tightened, we decided to postpone our meetings.

Our massage therapists continue their work, and parents continue to open the doors of their homes, even during the quarantine period. They are seeing great results. Their children, small or big, with severe disabilities, and very high muscle tension, are in great need of help.

Many children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hemi-paresis, or tetra-paresis, receive a ten-day massage course every month. This sixteen-year-old child cannot walk and spends all of her time in bed. Her grandmother who alone takes care of her granddaughter, has a difficult time turning the girl over during the day and the child stays in one stable position for a long time. Progressive muscle imbalance can lead to dislocation of the hip in the hip joint. Blood circulation is impaired. These and many other problems can be stopped and prevented from developing through massage therapy. After the massage, muscle hypertonicity is noticeably reduced and this brings great relief from pain for our dear children.

Two brothers, eleven and seven years old, have the same diagnosis of autism and scoliosis. Victor is very calm and self-contained. Ivan is super active and fidgety. It was not easy for Anya to give him massage therapy. The boy was constantly struggling and spinning. In the middle of the ten-day course, Ivan calmed down and enjoyed the massage therapy.

Parents of children with autism notice that after massage, children’s behavior becomes more social. Language skills improve, anxiety reduces, and concentration increases. This significantly improves the quality of life for the children. And this is very encouraging for parents!

Soon after Sasha was born eleven years ago, our massage therapist, Tanya, was contacted for help. Sasha was born with a traumatic doctor error, leaving him in a vegetative state, unable to do anything for himself. After eleven years of massage therapy designed specifically to relax dominant muscles and strengthen weak muscles, Sasha continues to live. We have seen small signs of progress. In his case, the best that we are seeing is an improved quality of life.

He has a three year old brother and his family continues to love him. Life continues for this family in a positive manor, mostly because of the treatment and personal interaction of Tanya with this family.

When I read the reports and the results of the work of our massage therapists, I see even more value of massage therapy home visits. The massage therapist becomes a part of the family, opening up and releasing pain for them. Parents look forward to the arrival of the massage therapist. Their life, like the life of their children, is limited by a narrow circle of people and the walls of their apartment or house.

Together with our massage therapists, dear family and friends, you are part of these families and bring relief, expanding the lives of parents and children! Thank you very much!

Living my dream,

Green


Sveta
Please consider donating to MUCH to help the children with disabilities improve their quality of life.

Please Donate

Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta

February 2019

Hello family and friends,

February has been an unusually warm month for us in southern Ukraine. Low temperatures were in the 20s F, highs were in the mid 30s F. It is true that the post-soviet generation can be found standing outside, talking with friends, in the coldest weather. Although, as soon as the temperature is above freezing for a couple of days, many people are found to be out in their garden, preparing the soil. To my surprise, some have already completed their spring planting. As for Sveta and me, we pruned our fruit trees, grape vines, and rose bushes. We are ready for spring. Even so, there could be more snow before the spring is over. We just never know.

Mark’s Moments

In the summer of 2017, Sveta and I visited the Stepovoya Orphanage for Boys with Physical and Mental Disabilities. We were visiting with a group from our church. Since that time, the director has been replaced and we have visited a few more times. Each time, Sveta and I talked with the director about massage therapy for the boys in his facility. He was absolutely in agreement with our program, but was having difficulty understanding how to implement it.

Natasha and Ira

Finally, with all of our ducks in a row, he introduced us to Natasha and Ira. Both Natasha and Ira work part-time. Natasha works as a care taker of the children, while Ira is the social worker. As we interviewed them to participate in the massage training course, they asked questions, wanting to understand the program that we were offering. I can imagine the unasked question, “Who are Mark and Sveta, and why are they giving us this opportunity?”

After completing the course, Ira and Natasha hold diplomas from their massage therapy course posing with their course instructor.

Natasha told Sveta that this opportunity has changed her life. As a wife and mother living in the village an hour outside of Mykolaiv, she saw no opportunities in her life that could change. (The common phrase is, “This is my life, what can I do?”) Now, with a diploma, she can give more of herself to children at the orphanage, changing their lives through massage therapy.

Vlad

Ira wrote in one of her progress reports about a 17 year old boy who receives massage therapy. His name is Vlad. He was born with spina bifida (open spine) on his lower back. Both legs are unable to function normally. He also has a flat foot problem that is common to cerebral palsy, which is his diagnosis. He can stand, but cannot walk. He can pull himself along the hand rails on the walls.

Vlad likes the massage therapy very much. He pulls himself along the hand rails each day, showing up at the therapy room on time. Ira gives Vlad a full body massage. She begins with conversation about his favorite singer. While they talk, Ira begins by asking Vlad to straighten his leg at the knee. They move on to massage therapy, step by step. At the end of the treatment, Vlad always gives Ira a big “Thank you!” — I can’t wait to read about the rest of the wonderful stories from the Stepovoya Orphanage.

I am continually amazed at how God has connected the dots over the past sixteen years. Sveta and I have made ourselves available, and God has used us. (Dennis Lennon shared this phrase with me in 2000, and I have lived it ever since.) The progression of introductions for massage therapy were: Chornomorsk, Froonza Crimea, Dobromel, Marganets, Veleekey Lubin, Mykolaiv, and now Stepovoya.

See all eleven of our massage therapists on our website page.

Glory to God for the great things He has done!

Sveta’s Journey

In the end of February, I received a report from our two new massage therapists in Stepovoya, Natasha and Ira. This is their first month of work. From mid-February, they began to give massage therapy for boys with disability in the Stepovoya Orphanage. All boys have several difficult diagnoses. Many children cannot walk and their leg muscles have atrophied. Massage therapy normalizes the work of internal organs and stimulates blood flow to the skin and muscles, helps to avoid pressure sores, and the immunity is strengthened. Natasha and Ira use a rehabilitation Turbota table. It is difficult to work with a child who is not able to lay flat from head to toe. This table can be adjusted for angles and hold limbs in place while the child is receiving massage treatment.

Mark and I were glad to see, through the written lines of their report, that the hearts of Natasha and Ira are full of love for the children. Seventeen boys received massage therapy for 14 days. Here are excerpts from what our massage therapists wrote:

Anton

I saw small results in 12-year-old Anton. He sits in a chair all day. This lack of exercise negatively effects his digestive system. After 14 day of massage therapy, Anton had a normal stool, and his muscle tension decreased slightly. He likes massage therapy. During massage therapy the boy always gives me a big smile.

Andre

Six-year-old Andre, diagnosed with hydrocephalus, almost from the first day, liked the massage treatment. He always smiles. The boy cannot walk. He sits in the chair all day, so massage therapy has good benefits to his circulation.

Igor

Cerebral palsy on the lower limbs of 16-year-old Igor led to atrophy of the leg muscles, especially from the knee to the foot. He also has strong contractures in his joints. During the first massage treatment, he immediately relaxed and smiled. Igor especially liked the fact that I was talking to him. Igor is not able to speak. The massage experience for him was so calming, 30 minutes was like 1 minute, one breath of air. Igor spends most of the day in a sitting position and therefore massage therapy has a big effect on his circulation.

Sasha

Fifteen-year-old Sasha was nervous during the first massage treatment. On his third visit, thanks to the establishment of trusting relationships, calm music and warm massage oil, Sasha began to relax. A few days later when he saw me, he was so very happy to see me in my new job. He was looking forward to his next massage therapy treatment. Sasha can barely walk, but he can stands, holding on to the wall rail. One leg turns inside. While doing massage therapy, I paid a lot of attention to his foot. As a result, Sasha began to more confidently step on his affected leg. Unfortunately, the affected leg has contractures. My work is aimed at overcoming the spastic condition.

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The director of Stepovoya does not allow pictures of the children. As we see the progress, we will have to do our best to share vivid word pictures with you. Mark and I are very excited about Natasha and Ira in their additional positions as massage therapists! They have a great love for the children.

Thank you, dear family and friends for your prayers and financial support. These children can receive massage therapy and special attention from our massage therapists because of you. They have such a great need! Mark and I are glad that we are also partnering with you in this good deed just as you are our precious family and friends! Thank you so much!

Living my dream,

Sveta

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

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

April 2016

Hello Family and friends,

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The flowers have popped up, green has flooded our yard, and the fruit trees are all in bloom. Spring has arrived and the warm weather is not far behind.

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Mark’s Moments

What good has come from the war in eastern Ukraine? There are new laws in Ukraine created to remove all images connected with Soviet times. The statues of Lenin are being removed from all cities and communities in Ukraine. The removal of the symbol of the hammer and sickle is also a major change.

A change that you will see in our newsletter, Google Maps, and other professional references, is the name of the city of Illichevsk, the home of MUCH massage therapy. The new name is Chornomorsk, which translates as Black Sea. Illichevsk was named after Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov (Vladimir Illya Lenin), using his patronymic (from the father’s first name), Illya.

These are the first steps in changing the face and the heart of a country.

Sveta and I went to Chornomorsk recently to visit the massage therapy and transportation scholarship programs. Sveta will write about our visit to the massage therapists.

At the Thursday evening service at the Baptist church, I spoke about the MUCH Transportation Scholarship Program. We operate the program through this church. It is always a pleasure to visit with this community. We visited the two university students in our program, Nastya and Natasha. It is so great to watch them grow and mature.

I spoke with Nastya who is studying to be a conductor of music. I see positive change in her personality and confidence. She is very happy for the help that MUCH is giving her and thanks all of the sponsors of MUCH for providing funds for transportation to the university in Odessa each day.

Natasha has one more year of university to complete her degree in English to be a translator. She is very excited about the job that she has in Odessa. She works at the Black Sea hotel at the front desk. Her English skills are very important, as the hotel attracts many tourists. She sends her thanks to all of the sponsors of MUCH.

Children’s ministry has not been a part of the MUCH Program. We do have a great desire to add help for the children to connect with God. During our fourteen years of working with the children, we have definitely “won the right to be heard”. We are beginning a process of finding a short or long term missionary to join us in that capacity.

We were introduced to a Ukrainian at the home where we rented a room during our stay in Chornomorsk. Alla, a young woman, is a pharmacist who has a passion for children’s ministry. When I asked about sharing her passion with the children at the Dobromel Orphanage, she showed a growing interest. We have invited Alla to visit the children with us in September. Sveta and I are very excited about what God will do through Alla. We anticipate that she will travel with us once a year.

Sveta’s Journey

Spring is the time for work in the garden. This is the time when we sow seeds in the ground and expect harvest. Whenever I work in our garden, it reminds me of the children. Children, as the soil in the spring, are ready to receive all that is sown. In this great time of childhood we are able to sow good seeds for the future of children. When we focus only on our needs, it does not fully satisfy our emotions. When we see the needs of others, we enrich our inner satisfaction. I believe that your giving and prayers enrich your essence.

ANNA


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For many years, the parents of 11 month old Anna, dreamed about a second child, but nothing happened. When the wife was 44 years old, their son was 25 years old. Last year, this woman was diagnosed with a tumor in her uterus. Of course, she was very upset and even came to the idea that maybe it was her time to die. She shed many tears, and many different thoughts ran through her mind. In the process of a second opinion, it was discovered that she was pregnant! No one expected this, and no one thought it was possible.

So suddenly, everything changed! The girl Anna was born prematurely, at eight months. On examination she was diagnosed with a weakness in her complete muscular system. When she would cry, her abdomen around her belly button would protrude. Tanya began to give Anna massage therapy at the age of two months. During nine months, Anna has received five, ten-day courses of massage therapy.

The last time the child was examined by the doctor, he canceled the diagnosis originally given. The girl’s muscular development has improved. Now when shy cries, her abdominal muscles hold tightly. Anna, in all parameters, corresponds with normal development. Anna’s mother was very happy and grateful to Tanya and MUCH sponsors who fund this program.

PAUL

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Dr. Natalia always sets achievable goals and meets them. She sees potential for one-year and seven-month old Paul. The child was born with the diagnosis tetra-paresis (muscular weakness of all four extremities). Paul could not sit, crawling, or walk. But after seven days of massage therapy the child began to roll to the side with a little help. He began to take a toy with his left hand and shift it to his right hand. Dr. Natalia relaxed and strengthened his hip and shoulder joints and then increased range of motion in these joints. During work on his joints, the boy cried. This is a very painful procedure, but it is necessary. Dr. Natalia taught his mother to do special exercises at home. She said that for this baby, ten days of massage therapy is necessary, and then ten days of rest. This will develop the production of motor skills, making the proper neurological connections. This must continue for at least six months.

Living my dream,

Sveta

Massage therapy and computer classes are changing the health and education of the children at the Dobromel Orphanage. Massage Therapy and the Transportation Scholarship Program in Chornomorsk are giving new opportunities to infants, children, and college or university students. In Marganets, children’s lives are being changed in big ways in three different organizations though our Clothing Program. The children are changing from disabled to more abled, less teachable to more teachable, and poor self images to better self images.

We are grateful to God that He blesses all of these programs, and we see how He acts in His love! We also are overwhelmed at how He is providing for all of these things through you, our faithful supporters. Thank you!

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

 

August 2013 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,

July brought sunny weather and many guests. It was very pleasant to visit with family and friends. The August evenings are becoming cool, but the days remain hot. I look forward to September 1, which will bring an immediate change of season, and the first day of school for the children.

Our midyear fundraiser was successful. Thanks, to the many MUCH sponsors who came to our aid. With the 500 + children that we serve, we have a big budget.

getImage (3)A

Excursion to the Geographical
Center of Europe
This part of Ukraine is the
center of east/west Europe

What happens to the children of the orphanages during the summer months? They go to camp! There are many government-owned camps remaining from Soviet times. The children are sent to camp according to age groups. This year, Natasha, the massage therapist at the Dobromel orphanage, and her seven year old daughter went to camp with the children. It was a great time for all!

 

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Each week had a theme. One week was devoted to sports activities. Other weeks provided excursions, picnics, and climbing in the mountains of Carpathia. The children visited a shallow lake where they participated in the popular mud bath. Can’t you imagine the fun the children had smearing liquid mud over each other.

(Something that I missed in school was understanding that Russia is part of eastern Europe. The Ural Mountains, Ural River, and the Caucasus Mountains are the geographical land border of the eastern edge of Europe.)

Sveta’s Journey

Natalya B. is one of our massage therapists in Illichevsk. She uses multiple massage techniques combined with special exercises and medical equipment. Her individual approach for each child and her great love that she projects toward her little patients achieves great results.

Ivan is 2.5 years old and he has Cerebral Palsy. This child was born with a severe disability, with asphyxia and was in intensive care three months. Doctors said that the child was hopeless and advised parents to give him to the Baby House for children with severe disabilities. However, the parents did not agree with the predictions of doctors and took their child home. Up to age six months, the boy did not focus on or follow an object with his eyes. He could not roll over from back to stomach, and back again, and could not do what healthy children at this age do.

After three twenty-day courses of massage, when Ivan was one-and-a-half years old, he got up on all fours and began to crawl and to sit without support, but he still could not walk.

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Ivan wears the “Adele” suit

To date, after regular massage courses, Ivan has good progress: he can walk with the support of adults holding one hand, and he speaks elementary words. He is a very sociable and outgoing child. Contrary to the predictions of doctors, this child lives, grows, and develops!

Natalya B. has worked with him since he was three months old. Along with massage, she uses other devices, one which is the “Adele” suit.

 

This medical costume has adjustable elastic straps that create resistance for the muscles. This suit creates a muscular skeletal framework that holds the limbs in the correct position for movement. While wearing this medical costume, Ivan develops new reflexes and activates cells in the motor center of the brain. This improves the ability to achieve movement, coordination, and even speech. It is amazing!

To see our video of these two children, click here.

P1010062 - Copy (3)AThe second child, Jan, who receives massage therapy from Natalya B. is a wonderful girl. About two years ago, Mark and I first visited the family when they moved to Illichevsk. We wrote about her in the February 2012 newsletter. Jan could not roll over or hold her head upright. Her parents do everything possible that can be done to help their child: regular massage courses with special passive exercise, stimulation training on a horse, medication, and one time they took Jan to the Dolphinarium. It takes much time and money. Her parents have a huge appreciation for your help. Thank you MUCH sponsors for your financials support. They are very grateful and gave us a video where Jan swims with dolphins.

After two year of massage treatment, Jan began to hold her head up. She can turn her head, and follows moving objects with her eyes. She responds to voice, can do some voluntary movement, and has improved posture. Jan’s parents are immensely happy seeing these results. We saw tears in her mother’s eyes when she told us about her daughter.

Again, please accept this big appreciation from the parents and from us. Mark and I are very thankful that you support us as missionaries in the Ukraine. Let God’s blessings abundantly come into your life! God bless you!

Living my dream,
Sveta

You can see all of our videos at our YouTube site

Most times that Sveta and I visit a child receiving massage at his or her home or in one of the clinics, I am overwhelmed by the hope that I see in the eyes of the parents or grandparents. Progress is slow, but the parents are so hopeful for their children. They thank you, the children thank you, and we thank you for your loving support.

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

July 2013 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,

We Urgently Need Your Help!

It has been six trying years since the 2008 financial crisis. MUCH sponsors have dug deep during those years to keep MUCH alive and serving the children. It was a challenge each year, but this year we are facing our biggest challenge. At midyear, we are $3000 under budget. Our children are depending on us for massage services, education assistance, and clothing. Please find it in your heart to help us keep our mission alive. Every donation will help.

Help Us Make a Difference in a Child’s Life Today

 

Donate Here

 

July brings us very hot weather in the upper 80’s. Of course, everything is compared to something else. For us in Ukraine, this is hot. It is good for business at the beach where many people visit from other countries. The second week of July brought us the pleasure of our daughter, her husband, and their four-year-old daughter. They spent each day at the beach, soaking up the sun and enjoying the wonders of the waves and salty water of the Black Sea.

Since my arrival in Ukraine in 2002, two years before MUCH was established, I stepped forward in faith as God showed me the first two outreaches that He had prepared for me to initiate or support. Ukraine is a country filled with need. It was so difficult for me to see a need and not help. Even so, I learned that God was working in the lives of each individual through a number of people like me. I was not his only vessel. I learned through a few opportunities to help, that if God was not the author of my work, it would not succeed.

As MUCH was conceived In 2004, we started the massage therapy program in Illichevsk, seeing amazing results after three months of my own receiving massage therapy. In 2010, we reached out to the children in the village of Froonza, Crimea with a massage therapy program. After visiting the Dobromel Orphanage for three years, the opportunity to offer a massage therapy program for these children came to me in 2011. This year, 2013, we offer a total of 22 hours of massage therapy per day in these two cities and one village. Here is the simple breakdown:

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1 hour of massage $ 2.85
20 days for one child $ 57.00
22 children per mo. $1,254.00

When I look at the final figure of $1254, I remember my comment when the Sweet Dreams bed replacement project was set before me in 2003. With my eyes as big as fried eggs, I spoke, realizing my limitations, “This is definitely too big of a project for me, … but it is not too big for God.”

For eleven years, my work has never been short of funds by the end of the year. I continue to trust God for His provision through people like you. My words of thanks are without the power to express my deep gratitude, to say nothing of the children’s gratefulness. We thank you from the depths of our hearts!

Sveta’s Journey

DSCN4833AOur mission is to help Ukrainian children. Without your help we could not complete this work. Here are some of the result of your help: children are encouraged with scholarships to seek higher education, their improved health and socio/emotional relationships are enhanced through massage therapy, they have good clothing that improve their self images.

Your help is very important. This is indicated by the directors of orphanages, the parents of children who receive massage therapy treatment, children in the orphanages, and the children whom we met after they have completed their studies.

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Mark and I visited the children from the Dobromel Orphanage in May and observed some of the children receiving massage therapy. Natasha, the masseuse, spoke about the positive physiological and psycho-emotional outcomes for each child. We see gratitude on the children’s faces that needs no words. Their radiant eyes clearly show the change in their persona.

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Thanks to your financial support for the work in the computer class at the Dobromel Orphanage, apart from using the computers individually for lessons, the students as a group are able to view pictures of their past adventures on the interactive whiteboard. On Saturday, Mark and I watched as the children gathered in the computer room after lunch. The teacher showed the children photos of themselves taken a number of years ago. Emotion ran high in the children as they recognized each other, shouting “Look, there is Ivan, … there is Maria!”

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We brought albums for the children and photos that we took on our last visit. It is great to have a personal album where the children can collect their photos and photos of their friends! The children who were shy or did not want to be photographed on our last visit, saw the beautiful albums and photos. This time, they asked us to photograph them. Next time we will need to print more photos for a bigger number of children!

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I met Ira when I lived at the orphanage in October 2011. Out meeting was very funny. I was locked in the shower area for my privacy. When I finished, to my surprise, Ira was coming out of the bathroom, adjacent the shower room. We were both locked in, waiting for the woman with the key, so we sat down and talked. From that time on, Ira and I had great conversation on each of my visits.

She shared about the problems between her parents, and the great stress it caused her. She loved her father, but the problems between her parents caused her to hate her mother. During our fall visit last year, Ira asked me to write her a letter and send photos to her. I said that I would, and suggested that she pray for her parents and love her mother. I wrote Ira a letter and sent pictures with it to her by the director. In the letter, I also encouraged her to pray for her parents.

When we arrived last time, I was very surprised to see her parents visiting her. Wow! The power of prayer is amazing. Ira showed me the letter that I wrote to her. She cherishes and rereads it often. She is very proud of this letter and showed it to her girlfriend. Another girl asked me to write her a letter, as well. This impressed me. I think this is a great opportunity to have a positive impact on the girls through writing, despite the great distance between us. It will be a chance to give them good advice and encourage them.

Thank you for your support through which we can do works of mercy! In addition, on behalf of the children, parents, teachers, and directors we say to all of you, “Thank you very much!”

Thank you for the opportunity to learn!
Thank you for massage treatment!
Thank you for clothes!

Living my dream,

Sveta

Thank you for helping Sveta and me, and all of the MUCH team serving the children, changing the future of their lives and their country.

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

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.
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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,
Sveta

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

August 2012 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,

It has been hot recently, in the mid 90s. But, then again, it is summer. Sveta has coaxed me to swim in the sea a few times this summer. The water has had a cool temperature, just right for swimming. The ½-mile long beach has been packed with vacationers from Western Europe and Russia. The Illichevsk beach remains free, although it has become very commercialized. There are many ways to spend your money.
My focus this summer is to write articles on Sveta’s and my blog about the education needs of the children. My series begins with “What About Education? – Intro,” and, if you are on the Internet, you can find it in the second article, Wednesday July 11, on this page http://tinyurl.com/bqevdjv. With each article, I am building the foundation of environment and need of the children in Ukraine. This series will come to a conclusion soon, and will be followed with a series on Health Care and how MUCH is involved.
MUCH is not an organization created to educate the children of Ukraine. It is our intent to evaluate what is current, and be a catalyst for inspiration or change to create opportunity that will improve the options of the children. Here in Illichevsk, our Transportation Scholarship Program (TSP) does this. Our long-term goal is to alter society through education. Our focus is not to teach our thoughts and beliefs, but rather to encourage and challenge the children to continue on to higher education that is already waiting for them.
I believe that this will break the cycle of poverty, giving the teenagers a bigger picture of what is available for them to do with their lives. With a picture of something more than their past lives and how they were raised, these teens will not only have the opportunity for higher education, but will realize that there are people who care enough about their future to help them. Some of the teens who do want this are not able to afford the transportation to and from Odessa every day. That amount is about $2.50 a day for an hour of travel each way! Imagine that!
In Marganets, the staff and administration are committed to the 156 children in their orphanage. It is government-run, but this one is operated so much better than others in Ukraine are. Their focus is to challenge the children to find their highest abilities and excel. For some of the children, these areas are in computer or music and dance. MUCH believes that these classes are preparing the children for their futures in a bigger perspective, developing thought processing and new patterns of thinking, which were touched on in the June Newsletter.
A third course of study that MUCH supports in Marganets is provided by a local church. In the beginning, we asked them to meet with the children and teach about morality and self- respect, with a focus on prevention of drug and alcohol abuse. For children in an orphanage system, this can be the biggest influence on their lives. Taught by loving teachers, the children can develop character that will carry them through the difficult times that they will face in their futures.
MUCH has been influencing the lives of children in Ukraine in these ways for six years. Our desire is to expand our education programs and inspire the teachers to do more. The government is not likely to add to the budget, so MUCH sponsorship may be the only way to express to the teachers that we care about what they do.

Several months have passed since we met with the parents and their daughter, A., in their home. This time, while visiting the massage clinic and the doctor/masseuse Natasha B., Mark and I saw good results from A. Her parents give a lot of attention to the child. Four times a year A. is being treated in a children’s multi-therapy clinic called “Golden Angel” in Odessa. She receives medical treatment and massage therapy, and during the summer, the parents bring A. daily to an Equine Therapy program near the town, where she rides a horse in a small walking circle.

Sveta’s Journey

Contact with the horse gives A. many positive emotions, helps relax her spastic muscles, and builds tone in her legs. Contact with the horse warms up the muscles and joints of the legs and pelvis, and also develops coordination. The girl is very patient and she is accustomed to numerous procedures, training, and massage. Her parents are actively involved with the child at home. They use a special suit that holds the muscles of the extremities in the correct position. We reported on A. in the February Newsletter that she could not raise her head. During this visit, she is able to raise her head and hold it in a raised position for a count of 60 seconds or more. This is great progress.
D., an eight- and-a-half year old, is a very interesting and clever girl. She is an extraordinary child! When she learned that Mark would be at her massage treatment, and that he would be taking pictures of her, she carefully prepared for the meeting. She wore her best dress, jewelry, and her grandma braided her hair beautifully. D. met Mark about 4 years ago, and she loves him very much. When it came time to say goodbye, it was clear that D. did not want to part with Mark.

She has Cerebral Palsy, but she goes to a regular school and has almost no free time. She regularly receives massage treatments and visits a dance choreographer for lessons in stretching muscles. The stretching exercise is very hard work for her. Currently, D. is interested in working with beads. She showed us her work, a beautiful bracelet for her wrist. D. loves animals, especially horses and dreams of working with them in her future.


Two years ago, D. underwent surgery to lengthen the muscles in her left heal cord and her right hamstring, behind her knee. Before, she could stand only on her toes. After the operation, she is now able to stand with her foot almost entirely flat on the floor. She receives a single injection of a medication called Disport, to relieve spasticity of her leg muscles once or twice a year, depending on the results. It costs 1500 grevnya ($187.50) per dose for her. Currently, MUCH is not involved with the cost of this injection treatment.

It is very important when doctors and parents notice the child’s deviation from the norm in infancy. Actions taken in time, especially before the child reaches the age of one year, can greatly alter the development of the baby. M. began receiving massage treatments when he was one month of age. He is now 1 year and 8 months. During this time, his muscle tone has been restored. His mother is delighted with the good results, and understands the importance of massage for him.

V. (right) has hemi-paresis, and he began to receive massage at the age of three months. Now he is two years and four months old. During this time, he has received massage treatments and also has good results.
Our hearts were saddened when we learned the story of this next boy. I. (below) has a very rare disease and has already suffered a complicated surgery to remove his colon. Mark and I visited him at home. I. is now a patient of our masseuse, Tanya. The doctor caring for I. has prescribed
massage as mandatory. He states that it is very necessary to receive massage as an important means to help restore the function of his body. He is a beautiful child!

Thanks for your help! You are sincere and good people. You are well aware of the complexity of situations and in the past have been ready to provide much needed assistance. Charity is one of the most important works in society. With your help, needy children receive timely assistance and can always count on your support. People involved in charity, by helping others, get moral satisfaction from their work.

Living my dream,

Sveta

You will be hearing more about our efforts toward education and health care as we enter the fall season. MUCH is made up of many different people. I am only one here in Ukraine who moves things forward. There are thirty-one people of Ukraine, in three cities and two villages, who are involved to some degree in making the work of MUCH happen. In America, the MUCH board of directors guides my financial decisions here in Ukraine, and the sponsors of MUCH make it possible to carry out the work that God guides me to do. Finally, but equally important, are those who lift us up in prayer in America and here in Ukraine. The children thank you all!

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta