Category Archives: Muscle imbalance

October 2020

Hello family and friends,
Sveta and I hope that this fall season will please your eyes with wonderful colors. We hope for good health for all of you and your family. Here in southern Ukraine, the temperatures are dropping to the 40s F and 50s F. The children in all of Ukraine are on fall break. We are in “red zone” for two weeks. The latest news as I write this newsletter is that the children will go back to school November 2.
As we continue to encourage the massage therapists and children from a distance, MUCH carries on, helping the children in need. Fifty-four children receive massage therapy each month. God blesses our team with good health and opportunity to love the children. See our stories below.

Mark’s Moments

MUCH children are so naturally beautiful. Even so, inside each of them are mysteries and painful memories. They function best with regular routine. Since COVID-19 disrupted the routine of the world, and their world, change began to disrupt their lives.
Every summer the children had a vacation, somewhere in Ukraine, from their orphanage environment. This summer of 2020, the true orphans stayed at the orphanage all summer.
In September, when Natasha returned to the orphanage, she resumed massage therapy for the children. They appeared different from how they had been in years past. Starved for attention, they talked all the time. Apparently, they acted as if they had been sitting in a cage (the orphanage) for six months.
One of the older boys, in need of great amounts of attention, went to one of the classrooms on the upper floor. Alone, he pulled out some matches to play with. When he realized that he start a fire, he ran to another room and hid. After being evaluated, the boy was hospitalized for psychological care.
The fire was contained, but not before considerable damage had occurred. Damage was done to the classroom, and the room below where Natasha gave massage therapy to the children.
When Natasha was given another room to work in, she faced new problems. Since there is no water in the new office, she had to go to the hallway restroom to wash her hands after every treatment.
The heat was not turned on for the season yet, so Natasha had to heat the room with a small portable heater. Things could have been so much worse. Natasha’s children are receiving massage therapy again. They are happy, and are reverting back to their previous emotional progress!
Nik is eleven years old. He has been struggling for a long time with muscle hypertonia, causing him to stoop forward. For the past two years, he has been receiving massage therapy. This is effecting all of the muscle groups in his back, improved his posture. He gladly comes for massage therapy, that also elevated his mood. In addition, exercise increased his symmetry, especially exercises for the back. Massage therapy has a positive effect on the central nervous system. Nik became more active, confident and happy.
Particular attention is paid to chiropractic therapy, which realigns the spine.
Nik participates in physical games and activities now, with less pain. Because of massage therapy treatments, his life has greater potential and more opportunities to participate in school competitions.

Sveta’s Journey

Do you think it is possible to recognize scoliosis in a child under one year old? After all, the baby cannot communicate any discomfort with words. The baby can only cry.If parents are attentive, they may notice something is wrong. Any asymmetry in the folds on the child’s body and limbs may indicate that the baby has a problem.
When Alex’s parents discovered asymmetry of the folds on the legs of their four-month-old baby, they turned to the pediatrician. The pediatrician also discovered that the child was lagging behind in physical development. Alex could not hold his head up, hold a toy in his hand, or roll over. All these are symptoms of muscle dystonia, shortening of muscles that pull on the spine, leading to scoliosis.

After the first course of massage therapy, the results were visible! Alex began to hold a toy in his hand. He turned from stomach to back and vice versa. Three months later, our massage therapist, Oksana, did a second course of ten-day massage therapy. Now, the baby is seven months old; he holds his head up with ease. The folds of the skin on his legs are symmetrical!

The common cause of infant scoliosis is muscle dystonia. In the initial stage, scoliosis is not dangerous. But if you do not consult a doctor in time, the vertebrae will become more and more misaligned. This will lead to muscle asymmetry, pinching nerve endings. With age, headaches, back pains, and malfunctions of internal organs will begin.
Because of you, dear friends, massage therapists of Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope help children in early intervention avoid becoming disabled at an older age.
How wonderful that Alex received two ten-day massage courses in time!



Living my dream,

Sveta

Sveta and I are so grateful to our partners, sponsors, and those who share our stories with friends. After living through two revolutions, a coup, an occupation, and a war that continues in eastern Ukraine, we look at the children. They are, many times, lost in the shuffle.
The goal of MUCH is to help the Ukrainian people help their own people. Thanks to all of you for helping us help Ukraine help their children.


You can see our Youtube site http://www.youtube.com/user/smmuch

Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta

When You Find a Heart for Children, Nourish it!

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

“Last year, when Mark and I went to the village of Froonza, to visit our massage therapy program, we met with the director of the kindergarten because she asked for our help. The problem is that the kindergarten does not have a speech therapist. The government authorities do not provide money in the yearly budget for a speech therapist at this kindergarten. In the kindergarten, there are 104 children: in each of the four groups of 26 children, 25% of the children have a problem with the spoken language. The administration of the kindergarten has a great desire to have a speech therapy program for the children.”

“There is a young woman who lives in Froonza who wants to work with children as a speech therapist. Angelina is already working in this kindergarten as a teacher and in addition she gives private English lessons at home. Angelina is a beautiful young woman, the daughter of the MUCH manager in the village of Froonza. She grew up in a big wonderful Christian family where there is much love. This family has five children and eight foster children. See Fourteen Days with Thirteen Children. Angelina has a teacher’s degree and will begin studying speech therapy in the graduate program at the university in September 2013. Her heart burns for the children and she has already started the independent study portion of the program.”

The rule in Ukraine about receiving government help is that you must be registered in day classes in the regular semester system. Graduate studies do not operate that way. The cost of her Angelina’s tuition is $380 per semester. That is less than we are paying for our Transportation Scholarship Program in Illichevsk. My desire is to offer her a scholarship.

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

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

You can help Angelina with your $10 Click here

February 2013 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,

Sveta and I enjoyed a couple of weeks of snow, but now the 35F plus weather has brought the rain. Snow may return before spring arrives, but it will not stay long here by the Black Sea. The weather changes most unpredictably. Sveta is moving my residency documents along quickly, as my Visa D will expire February 21. Life is good.

The Christmas Fundraiser has made it possible for the computer program to begin this month at the Dobromel Orphanage for special needs children. We are so pleased that we are able to offer the children massage therapy that began last January, and computer classes this year. We look forward to hearing and seeing the progress results. We have talked with the director of the orphanage, and he is very grateful. We pass this note of thanks on to you, the sponsors.

The sewing machine for the Marganets Orphange will be delivered this month. Sveta will order through the internet, it will be delivered to a shipping company in Marganets, and our manager there, Anatoliy, will pay for it and deliver it to the orphanage. Cash on delivery is quite common in Ukraine, and gives me considerable peace of mind because I don’t have to worry about my debit card being compromised. On another front, we provided the transition home in Marganets with one washing machine. I will share the rest of the washing machine story in the March Newsletter.

I want to share a story with you about one of my special children. D. was born with Cerebral Palsy. She began to receive medical attention at the age of two, which is the old Soviet mentality. I met her when she was four years old. Palsy affected her legs and feet, but she used all the muscles in her body when she would try to walk. Her inability to balance caused her to fall to one side or the other. It would soon be time for her to begin kindergarten, and then school. To do this, she would need to be able to walk on her own, maneuvering through her day independently.

Sveta and I met with her at a massage therapy session in the fall of last year. She was eight, and is winning her battle. She attends school, is walking independently, and is very happy. Her challenges will continue until she stops growing, but she works very hard combating her muscle imbalance and spasticity. I have assembled a video of her therapy and her triumphs. Take five minutes and cheer her on as you watch how far she has come. D’s Video

Sveta has some wonderful stories to share this month. Our massage therapists keep us in-touch with the progress of the children through progress reports. In Illichevsk, at the end of sessions, they invite us to take pictures and video the children, displaying their new abilities.

Sveta’s Journey

Yesterday Mark and I visited a new child; this is our first visit to him. His name is G. and he is five months old. Two months ago, he received his first treatment of ten massages. Now Tanya, one of our massage therapists, is giving him a second ten-day massage treatment. Immediately from the first days of treatment, Tanya and his mother noticed improvements in G. — relaxation of tense muscles in his neck and back, now G. can turn his head to either side. Before the massage he could only turn his head to one side.

G., things are looking up!
After the second treatment of massage, the spasticity in his right arm and leg diminished considerably. Some questionable movement in his left hand remains. We will watch as massages and special exercise may improve the operation and development of the muscles and give direction to the proper growth of the skeletal system. The problem is much easier and faster to fix in infancy than when the child is older. (I’m not talking about an extremely serious diagnosis. If a child receives massage early, the results will be greater, but if massage comes later for the child, it will take more time and more work to come close to the before mentioned results, if they will at all.)

A., is a sweet baby girl who was adopted by a lovely family. Her new parents are very caring toward their child, take good care of her, and have much patience with her. They need to work hard to help her develop properly in her body and mind. A. is one year and four months old, but she cannot walk like most children at her age. Doctors diagnosed her: mental retardation and spastic syndrome. She received her first twenty-day massage last month. These are the results that Tanya and A.’s mother saw. The girl began to crawl.

A. says,”Ok, I’m ready!
She can stand without adult support for about one minute.Now she can get off the bed by herself and she began to speak the word “mama.” When we met in the massage room, the mom enthusiastically told us what the girl is now able to do. The mother glowed with happiness. A. will have the next massage course after a month. Patience and love are winning. This is only the first step. She needs to continue to work with the muscles of her body to develop into a healthy child.
K. – Mmmm, thaaat feeels gooood!
Little K. has regularly received massage treatment from when she was eight months old; now she is two years old. Doctors and parents did not immediately find a problem in her physical development so the massage was started a little late, but even this did not interfere with the results. Before the massage, a big difference was evident; one cheek on her face was large and the other was smaller. Now, both of K.’s cheeks look the same. The muscles on the left side of her neck are shorter, causing stiff neck. Now she turns her head to either side. Tanya continues to work with K. and focuses on the left side of the body, relaxing spastic muscles of the arm and leg.
I described three children who had massages in a very short time, but received great results. All three mothers told us what their children’s problems were before the first massage, and how happy they are now, seeing such excellent results. We were also very happy with them. For me they were real miracles; whenever I see or hear about the results after the massage, my heart is filled with joy for these children and their parents. These are not the end-results; our massage therapist will continue to work with these children until our goals are met.
Living my dream,
Sveta
We are so grateful for all of your interest in our children and the love that you have for them. Your financial gifts and prayers make all of what we do here possible. Without MUCH, the children with special need, those in orphanages, and the poor wanting to attend higher eduction would be forgotten, or their needs minimized to a survival status. As you can see on the right toward the top, we have six programs that fall into three major categories. In March we will talk about the transportation scholarship program. We will give details of what is happening now and what our goals are. Until then, may God bless you and fill your lives with joy and prosperity.
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