Category Archives: Orphanage

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

September 2016

Hello family and friends,

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

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

Mark’s Moments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living my dream,
Sveta

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

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

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

August 2016

Hello family and friends,

We have come to the end of summer in Ukraine. We anticipate that a cool autumn will appear
Sept. 1. The change of seasons are abrupt in this part of Europe.

August 24 celebrates Independence Day in Ukraine. This is their twenty-fifth year of freedom from the Soviet Union. Children who were born in freedom, after 1991, are raising a second generation of children born in freedom. It is a great privilege for me to be here, watching the process.

We have been changing the lives of children at the Marganets Orphanage for fourteen years. August brings an end to this part of the MUCH mission in Marganets. The simplest way to 3dsc02082explain is that we are not seeing the results that we have seen over the years. The need for clothing is less, and the other goals have been met. The children have better self images, are behaving better in the classroom, and have earned the respect of the children in the community at large. Thank you for your support for these children over the years. Your contributions have changed the lives of a generation of children.

Mark’s Moments
Here is a story of how two people encouraged each other to blossom their visions to help disabled children.

In 2003, I was in great need of massage therapy. After living in Ukraine for a year and a half, stress caused my neck muscles to tighten so much that I couldn’t turn my head. I was introduced to Dr. Natalya Borisovna, a massage therapist. At the time, her patients for massage therapy were adults.

After my good results, I asked her if she was interested in working with children. She had been praying for the opportunity for three years! In March of 2004, we began the MUCH Massage Therapy program with two children a month.

Twelve years later, MUCH has blossomed the massage therapy program. We provide massage therapy for at least twenty children per month. We have: two massage therapists at the Dobromel Orphanage, northwestern Ukraine, two home visit massage therapists in Chornomorsk, and one in training for home visits in the village of Molodozjnoye in south western Ukraine. There is also a vision for massage therapy at a second orphanage in northwestern Ukraine.

For twelve years, Dr. Natalya has been on a journey of her own. When she started the MUCH massage therapy clinic in 2004, she worked part time for us and part time in her private practice. A few years later, she was hired to work at Golden Angel in Odessa, giving massage to children with disabilities who came from many parts of Ukraine for treatment.

Dr. Natalya has returned to Chornomorsk, reopening her private practice of massage therapy. She has blossomed her business into a complex treatment of full body massage, hot earth wax, facial point massage, treatment for joints, therapeutic exercise, and an ice bath. This full treatment requires about two hours and forty-five minutes for a ten or fifteen day program. MUCH sponsors six of her patients. She has a team of four massage therapist, and an office manager.

natalyas-teamDr. Natalya helped me: physically regain relaxation of my muscles, begin a clinic for children with special needs, and train our new massage therapists. God used me to: answer her prayer to work with special needs children, encourage her to continue through sponsorship, and ask for her help to train our new therapists.

This is the successful story of how Dr. Natalya and I encouraged each other to develop our visions to help children with disabilities.

Sveta’s Journey
We have made a lot of friends working at the orphanage in Marganets. Our hearts were sad when we had to stop the program. The children were always waiting for our arrival. When Mark and I entered the orphanage gate they recognized us from a distance and ran to us shouting, “Mark and Sveta are here!” We had limited time to talk and play with the children. When we told them that we had other children in their city to visit, they were jealous.

Our work continues in Dobromel. Children are also waiting for us at this orphanage. They receive massage therapy and attend computer classes because of the full sponsorship of MUCH. This is a great help that is changing their lives. The children enjoy massage therapy very much. Eagerly awaiting dscn7556their turn, they ask the therapist, “When are you going to give me a massage?”
Teachers are responsible to bring each child for massage, knowing the appointed time. Sometimes Paul takes a child for massage therapy and returns him/her at the end of the massage. Because the education building is across the street, sometimes the therapist will take two children. While waiting for their turn, they are happy to spend time in this magical room, running on the treadmill, playing on a massage mat, and using other exercise equipment. Some children are so interested in the procedure of massage therapy, they cannot look away from the working hands of the therapist.
We have written several times adscn7555bout children who came to the orphanage from a Baby House (orphanage from birth to first grade). What enormous changes have taken place in their character and health because of massage therapy mixed with the love of people who care about them!
The boy who is watching massage in the picture above came from a Baby House. When he arrived, he was wild and uncontrollable. He has been receiving massage therapy for three years. We are so happy to see the great changes that have occurred in his life during this time.
For me, this boy is a living example of how a child may change through the love of the people around him, and as the love of God unites hearts of Americans and Ukrainians! Thank you for your part in changing the lives of these children!
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

September 2013 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,

The first of September fell on a Sunday this year. Even so, the school system brought in the ceremonial First Bell where the children dress in their best clothes or school uniforms and honor the teachers with flowers. The ceremony includes music and speeches, kicking off the school year with enthusiasm and new energy.

For MUCH, September brings our focus to education scholarships, and the great need for seasonal clothing for the children in the Marganets orphanage and school. In our scholarship program, Vika is in her last year of medical college. She wants to continue her medical education and become a doctor of microbiology. See her video.

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Two other girls in Illichevsk desire to continue their education. They talked about their vision for their futures in this interview.

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Moving is always a great adventure. There are seasoned movers, novice movers, and those who see it as a challenge to overcome, something like a contest. A young couple we know took the challenge. The husband said to his wife, “We can pack in three days!” When I told Sveta that we would move in April 2014, she began to pack in July 2013. It is a good thing that she did.The rent went up quite a bit in August, so Sveta looked at me and said, “I’m ready to move when you are!”

I have been visiting a language school as a guest speaker for the past two years. During my final visit, one of the students asked me why I wanted to leave Illichevsk. It is a seaside resort, and a very clean city. Soviet and post-Soviet people often remain in the same city, in the same flat or private home most, if not all, of their lives. After a moment’s thought, I realized the truth. I replied, “Sometimes we get too comfortable in our lives and need to be pushed into something new and challenging. We need something that will bring out our best selves.” There is a phrase that goes something like this “Comfort those who are bothered, but bother those who are comfortable.” I was getting comfortable.

When Sveta and I got married in January last year, we pushed ourselves from our individual lives into a life that causes us to become selfless toward each other. On September 21, we moved to a village south of Nikolayev where we will live until our house is built. Now, living with her parents and her brother, we push ourselves out of our comfort zone to become selfless toward them.

The travel distance between Illichevsk and Nikolayev is about 124 miles. Waiting for buses and travel time, usually takes us about five hours and three bus changes. We hired a truck to move us, and friends helped us load and unload. The travel time was close to four hours. It was a full day for Sveta and me. Our work has begun! In June we had started digging the foundation for our house that we will build in a year or two. Sveta and I began by moving the Together 2topsoil from the foundation area to the back of the property where we will have a garden. (Sveta and I are pulling a two-wheel-wheelbarrow in this picture.) We are very excited about our new adventure.

My time and opportunity have come to expand my personal involvement in ministry. Our involvement with MUCH will remain the same. Ira Kolosova, my previous assistant and contributor of the Ira’s Insights articles for the MUCH newsletters, will manage the ministries in Illichevsk. Sveta and I will visit Illichevsk, Dobromel, Marganets, and Froonza twice a year, as we currently do. In the house that we will build, there will be a multipurpose room that will give us opportunity to minister to the village community with programs such as exercise for the elderly, Christian small group meetings, Bible study, and other social activities.

Life in the village is quite the challenge if you are used to city life. The many luxuries that were within walking distance in Illichevsk are now a twenty minute bus ride away. Any project that I may do must be very well planned to avoid spending the day traveling to and from Nikolayev.

On the other hand, our opportunities to reach out to people in the village may be greater than they were in Illichevsk. In the village, everybody knows everybody. I think that many people know about me already, even though I have only met two people from this village of Galitsinovka.

Sveta and I are pushing ourselves into the reality of the vision that we have talked about for the past year. Exercise for the elderly will begin with Sveta and me encouraging each other to exercise. Once the garden is finished, we will have a large area to exercise in. We are almost unpacked, so we will begin soon.

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The first week of October we will be in the cold northwest at the Dobromel Orphanage. It is always interesting to me to see new and old buildings beside or across the street from each other.

 

The results of Soviet times effect the buildings as well as the people. What a great contrast of these two pictures that are across the street from each other in Dobromel.

The second week we will visit the Angelina Foundation Maternity House near the city of Zhytomyr, east and bit north of L’vov. Marina narrates their story. Take a look!

Our goal is to better understand the lives of girls from the orphanage system, the problems that they face after leaving the orphanage, and what is available for them. It has been on my mind for about nine years as we ministered to the children at the Marganets Orphanage.

Sveta’s Journey
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I am waiting for our visit to the orphanage. I am thinking, “What can I prepare for the children when we will have meetings with them? What interesting and instructive things can I do to leave a good mark on their lives?” I remember a year ago; I prepared a few games and tried to get the children to play them. I was not successful. I was saddened to tears.

Under the terms of the game, children were divided into two teams in a competitive manner and as quickly as possible they were to bring some balloons to the finish point. I explained to them the rules of the game, but the children were focused on the fact that each of them wanted to have a balloon. There was a disappointment among the children. The children did not want to join in the game; each child wanted to have his or her own balloon.
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Mark said that I have a talent of very good communication with the children, asking about their lives, their dreams, and encouraging them. Therefore, I decided not to create games. We would bring God’s love through us, through our communication with them.

Living my dream,

Sveta

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

Thank you for continuing with us on our journey of service to the people of Ukraine, particularly the children.

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

June 2013 Newletter

Mark and Sveta Koehler

Mark and Sveta Koehler

Hello family and friends,

On May 21st, Sveta and I left Illichevsk’s summery temperature of 75 F as we headed for northwestern Ukraine, 462 mile from our seaside city. Considering that June was right around the corner, we were thinking about warm weather in Dobromel. To our great surprise, two things were not as we expected. Our train ride to L’vov was air-conditioned, causing us to pull the blankets close around our heads. When we finally arrived in Dobromel, ten kilometers from Poland, the temperature was a cold and rainy 50 F. The day after our arrival, we went shopping at the outdoor market for warm socks and wool sweaters. Most of the shopkeepers had already packed their winter items in storage. We were able to find what we needed, but our choices were few.

We reported in the May Newsletter that Mikola, the director, had died. It was strange to visit and not see him there. Most of the children didn’t understand. Lidiya, the manager, and Natasha, the massage therapist shared their sense of loss with Sveta and me. Natasha told us that the tradition that she was following in her work with the children was that for forty days she would not use music or dance in her programs. This memorial tradition is very heartfelt. He will be deeply missed.

In the February Newsletter, I expressed great thanks for a successful Christmas fundraiser. The computer program began in February at the Dobromel Orphanage. The government had provided the computers two years ago, but no money for a teacher. This visit, we met the new computer teacher, Volodya, who is sponsored by MUCH. We learned about his work. The director gave him three tasks, each with a time expectancy. First, he was to prepare the room to accommodate electricity for each notebook computer on each desk. The teacher’s computer was to be connected to the interactive board, maybe better known as a PowerPoint projector and screen. From the teacher’s computer, he or she could project the assignment for the class to work with to the screen. See the video of the children in action.

Second, he was to educate each teacher and staff member who would have need to use the computer system. The director’s plan was not to use the computer classroom only to teach computer skills to the children, but to use the computers in every way possible to enrich the children’s educational experience. What we have learned is only the beginning.

Third, he would teach the children to use the keyboard, computer, and internet to enrich their learning experience. We have seen the children in action, so engrossed in their new adventure, they barely knew that Sveta and I were there taking pictures and making videos. They also have speech therapy software to work with the children that we wrote about in the December, and January Newsletters.

We have much more to report. Let’s take a look at Sveta’s Journey, and see what good news she has to share!

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Sveta’s Journey

Children! How wonderful they are! They have different character and behavior, and are different in intellectual and physical development. They are so amazing! When Mark and I were in the Dobromel Orphanage and watched the work of Natasha, massage therapist, we saw how the children eagerly awaited their turn for a massage. Usually, Natasha comes to class and takes one child for massage, but this time there was a change and the children came running into the office in the hope that they would be allowed to stay in this wonderful room and wait for when their time would come.

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Finally, it was time for Irina, eight-years-old. She quickly climbed on the massage table and happily placed her face in the hole in the table. Irina graduated the second grade this year. She is an orphan and came to the orphanage from the Baby House. Like many children who come to this orphanage after the Baby House, Irina was an unstable and explosive child, often crying for no reason, was nervous and stubborn. After two years in the orphanage, she started to be friendly and cheerful. Irina has a wonderfully beautiful smile. When she looks at you and smiles, you cannot remain indifferent.

This is her third course of massage and massage therapist sees positive changes in her physical body and a positive change of her mentality. With relaxation of tense muscles, now the girl
has good posture and she is calmer.

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Vanya, seven-years-old, is also an orphan. In the beginning, he covered his face and did not want to be photographed, he shied away when we would try to touch him, hiding behind the massage therapist. Very quickly, Mark and I have gained his trust and he sat down on our knees and began to embrace us. The boy loves to be caressed, we hugged him and pressed the child to us. Vanya, like every child, when he feels love, he responds to it. He understands everything said to him but he cannot talk. For him, this is also the third course of the massage, but because the boy has big problems with the spine, apart from massage therapy, he requires additional treatment.

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Vanya has the strongest kyphoscoliosis and administration ordered a hard plastic corset for him to correct his back, he will soon be wearing a corset. See the video of Vanya receiving massage on Natasha’s new massage table.

 

P1010052A Julia, ten-years-old, is the fifth of eight children in her family, and all of them are in the orphanage. About two years ago, I was giving her massage. The massage therapist, Natasha, continues to work with her, and during this visit, we saw Julia’s great results. Strengthening of the muscles of her back, and relaxation of the neck muscles that were previously shorter and tight, slowed the natural growth of the cervical vertebrae. Because of massage therapy, her spine and neck muscles will grow and develop normally.

Now, Julia turned into a beautiful girl, as in the tale of “The Ugly Duckling.’’ But, this is not a fairy tale, these are real effects of massage therapy on the body of this child. Before she received massage therapy, the girl was diagnosed with kyphoscoliosis. Two months ago, after a medical examination, the doctor said that her posture has improved so much that he changed the diagnosis to impaired posture. This is great progress! We believe that in the future the doctor will also change this diagnosis!

Mark and I had meetings with the manager, Lidiya Romanovna. She talked about the many successes of the children who had received a course, or several courses, of massage therapy. Some of the results are improved posture in children, improved articulation, handwriting, and positive change of the mental attitude of children.
Natasha expressed gratitude to all those people who support the massage program, and thereby show love and care to the children and particularly the children who are orphans. In May, three of the four children who received massage therapy were orphans. We see concrete positive change for them.

We thank you!

Living my dream,
Sveta

After watching the two videos that we made of our visit to Dobromel, it brought new understanding to my eyes. Sometimes, I forget the great impact that the contributions of MUCH have on the children and the people who work with them. Natasha is doing great work through massage therapy, but it was her words of thanks that stopped me mid-thought. After thanking her for her work, she said, “Mark, thank you for coming to Dobromel, so far from any big city, and caring about the children that most people forget about.”

Please join our efforts to understand life in the different communities that we serve. Watch our videos and receive joy because of the results of your financial support and prayers. God bless you. We thank you. The children 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

July 2012 Newsletter


Hello family and friends,

July is the hottest month in the summer. A few days ago, it was in the mid 90s, but today it is back in the mid 80s. Mornings and evening are wonderful times of day to walk, strolling through the park, or walking by the sea in the cool breeze. This pleasant weather will slip away before we know it, but that is the life we live here in Ukraine, by the Black Sea.

Each month, Sveta and I share stories and pictures about the children in our newsletter. A week or so ago, I started two new ways to tell our story, using the internet. Flickr is a site that allows people to share pictures. We decided that we needed to have a system to share pictures with all people who are interested. At this point, we have 200 pictures organized in 15 sets, starting with the Marganets Orphanage in 2002. We also have sets of pictures from the Illichevsk Massage Program, the Dobromel Orphanage, and the Froonza Massage Program. You are welcome to visit our sets at http://www.flickr.com/photos/muchhope/. When you look at our pictures, if one moves you to write, please leave a comment. Tell us what you think. If you don’t have a computer, there are computers at the library and one of the clerks will be happy to help you.

Do you follow Facebook? We recently created a page for MUCH. We have pictures, not as many as Flikr, but we have them on a timeline, beginning with the creation of MUCH in 2004. If you have a FB account, you may comment on the pictures, click the Like button if you like our page, and you may write something on the status entry, Facebook’s “What do You think?” If you don’t have a FB account, which is free, you may still browse through the page, clicking on the pictures and reading the comments. You may find our MUCH Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/smMUCH. We hope to hear from you soon!

Big plans are in the works for the coming year, beginning in the fall. With our three main focus points — healthcare, education, and clothing –we want to increase the number of children that we are helping in education and healthcare. Our Transportation Scholarship Program is the heart of our dream to break the cycle of poverty in Illichevsk. Our different massage programs are showing great results. My personal vision is to add three masseuses to the massage programs, one in each city, and four children to the Transportation Scholarship Program in Illichevsk. Success of my vision will depend upon our current sponsors and new sponsors that we hope to find via the internet social media network. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Flikr, to see how we do. I will tell you more in the August newsletter.

Sveta has some interesting insights about life in the day of a child in the Dobromel orphanage!

Sveta’s Journey

In this letter, I will talk about the lives of children in the Dobromel Orphanage. Each morning, except Sundays, begins with exercise. All children, young and old, begin exercise at 7:00 AM. It’s very interesting to see how they repeat all the commands from the teacher: sit down, stand up, leaning forward, tilting back, squat. Despite the fact that the exercises are simple, many children cannot quickly figure out what is necessary to do, and therefore lag in movement and don’t all turn in unison, although they do try.

Ten tables fill the dining hall.

Then they wash and get ready for breakfast. Since the dining room is small and there is not enough room for all of the 120 children, the meal takes place in three stages: first, the small children eat; then the middle group eats; and finally, the older children. The teachers supervise the young children while they eat, and control that they eat carefully, and that they eat the entire portion.

After breakfast, all the children and the teacher go to the building that is located across the street. The whole orphanage complex consists of two parts: the kitchen and dining room, bedrooms, game rooms, and showers are located on one side of the street, while the educational building is on the other side of the street, about a block away. Without the supervision

The green building is the school.

of a teacher or educator, only some of the older children are allowed to cross the street. Although this town is small, the movement of vehicles, bicycles, and horses pulling wooden carts is intense near the school. There are no pedestrian crossings, and the road is not asphalted.

This school for children with special needs does not offer all of the advanced courses found in most secondary schools. Some of the children have difficulty with numbers and letters, so science in not even a possibility for them to learn. For the higher functioning children, mathematics, history, the Ukrainian language, biology, geography, art, and physical training are the limit to their education. In the spring, the children who have families are called home to plant the crop that will be the family food for the following year. Also, they may care for the cows or babysit the younger children in their family.

Talking between classes.

Between classes, the children go out in the yard near the school. It is equipped with a playground where they have fun, running around or just sitting on the bench and talking.

When the lessons end, the teachers and caregivers process the children back across the street where they will have lunch. While the children eat, the older children have time to pose for pictures, and they happily will ask, “Will you take our pictures?” They love to be photographed! After lunch, everyone will return to the school to do homework with a tutor who specializes in helping the children learn how to do homework.

Chit-chat after supper.

Then supper, and after supper, the children have free time to watch TV in the playroom, or play with games. Older children can spend time outside of the orphanage where they play football or sit on a bench and talk to each other. At 9:00 PM, children go to wash, brush teeth, and sleep.

Every Saturday is bath day. All are bathed in a shower. Young children are washed by a woman caretaker. These evenings are very lively; the children love to wash and are very excited and joyful, before and after their bath. The children told me about this wonderful event the day before.

In the spring, children are also involved in cleaning their rooms on Saturdays. In addition, they clean the grounds outside, learning to take
pride in their environment. In this orphanage, almost all children are under

The brooms are made out of branches.

pride in their environment. In this orphanage, almost all children are under the supervision of trainers and teachers all day – for these special children need constant supervision and control.

A piece of history in Dobromel.

We had a meeting with the Director one day during our last visit. We met outside in one of the little gazebos that is on the property. As we spoke, he pointed to a stone wall that Mark and I have often wondered about. The stone wall that the children and Mark are posing in front of in this last picture is 400 years old. He explained that this is the remains of the wall that encompassed the city of Dobromel in the 1600s. What a treasure to have this historical artifact right there in the territory of the orphanage. What an educational tool.

Living my dream,
Sveta

Speaking of great tools, the internet has given us marvelous opportunities in gathering information and communicating from the mission field through my monthly newsletter and in Emails with sponsors. Social media will give Sveta and me the tools to tell our story in words, pictures, and video. As we move through the second half of 2012, please visit our sites and tell us what you think.

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta