Category Archives: Transportation Scholarship

March 2020

Hello family and friends,

Our apricot trees are starting to blossom, but they hesitate, waiting for the final frost of the season.

Our church service was divided into home groups of ten people each. The busses are running less often, and limiting passengers to ten at a time. Few people are out and about. Sveta and I, our family and friend remain healthy. Life moves forward.

Mark’s Moments

Our Patricia Koehler Memorial Transportation Scholarship Program continues! In 2007, the program sponsored its first two students. Since that time, five students have graduated university through our program. Nastya, our most recent graduate, is a conductor of music. Her program required eight years of study. She married last summer! This year, MUCH sponsors three students from three villages.

Daniel, 19 years old, is in his fourth year of college, studying radio technology. He wants to expand his education. The field of anesthesiology has caught his interest. As he studies this medical application, he will also learn how to apply his college training, and advance his university training to repair anesthesiology machines. Daniel will continue his education with the help of MUCH for another four years.

Julia’s mother, Daniel, and Julia

Julia, also 19 years old, is in her second year of university. She is majoring in Economics. She is one of five children in her family. Two of her brothers are married. Julia’s parents and other siblings are living in Poland as missionaries. Her father started a church to minister to the Ukrainian labor force in one city in Poland. Julia’s mother, Svetlana, was in Chornomorsk the night that Sveta and I visited the students. She made a special effort to visit us to express how grateful she and her husband are. I met Svetlana, Valodya, and their young family in 2002. They have struggled financially all of their lives. They send MUCH sponsors a very BIG THANK YOU!

Anya is 17 years old. She is in her first year of university, studying computer technology. She rides three different busses, taking one and a half hours each way. Her goal is to be a computer programmer, and work from her home. Also, she wants to use her new knowledge to help her church with different projects. Her father is drawing his pension. He fought in the Afghanistan war. Her mother operates a personal greenhouse, but only receives a decent seasonal wage.

Sveta’s Journey


We think that you will like our 2 minute video that compliments these stories: Mentally Challenged Children Learn to read using the computer.
Julia is 13 years old. She has changed a lot over the past seven years since I first met her. This precious child arrived at the orphanage in Dobromel from a Baby House. She was diagnosed as “Mild mental retardation”. Her parents were deprived of parental rights. Julia often cried, was embarrassed by her peers, separated herself from the other children, and strove for loneliness.

For these seven years, Julia has repeatedly received massage therapy. She had flat feet and scoliosis. Our MUCH massage therapist, Natasha, achieved good physical and psychological results.

 

 

Four years ago, Julia began studying how to use a computer. This was not so easy for her and for other children with intellectual disabilities. These lessons are taught by our MUCH sponsored teacher, Luba, in the orphanage library.

Julia became sociable, looking for communication with adults and with children. In her efforts to study the computer she is very happy about the smallest results! Learning to use the keyboard helps Julia learn letters and build words and sentences. She is learning to read.

Luba works with students from the sixth to tenth grade inclusively. These children have emotional-volitional disorders and other difficult diagnoses. For girls and boys this is a favorite lesson. After all, the children not only learn, but also play on the computer. Luba uses special developmental game/programs that are “initial computer science for children.” Educational games inspire the children to learn.

Basically, all children are unable to focus on one topic for an extended period of time, so Luba motivates them to learn in various ways. At first they may play on tablets and computers, and then they have to do scholastic work on the computer or vice versa.

Mary is 13 years old. She is very emotional and impulsive. She has a mild intellectual disability. It’s hard for Mary to focus on a specific subject. Her attention is unstable and distracted. Because of her inconsistent and slow thinking, it is difficult for a her to remember the material that is taught. She gets tired quickly.

Thanks to the keyboard simulator, Mary studies the arrangement of letters on the keyboard. She is learning how to properly use and perform basic operations with the mouse. These lessons help Mary to focus and keep her attention on a given topic. Thinking through her actions, she is learning to make rough projections about her day.

Victor is 11 years old. His attention is unstable, his perception is slow, the child remembers the material after much repetition, he cannot draw conclusions on his own. But despite this, Victor knows all the letters, and reads the words. Victor cannot practically retell the contents of what he has read, but he answers the questions well. He is a very neat student. He creates clean calligraphic writing. In the classroom, Victor is calm and wants to seek new knowledge. He comes to computer class with joy and Luba is very pleased with him!

Luba hopes that the skills that children acquired in her lessons will be useful in their future lives.

Living my dream,

Sveta

Thank you for your interest in our newsletters, our children, and Sveta and me. May God keep you healthy and safe in this challenging time.

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

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

March 2018

Hello family and friends,

Southern Ukraine received a thin layer of yellow snow. It was tested and determined to be sand and clay particles from Northern Africa. On March 24, we woke up to fresh white snow. We anticipate warm spring weather next week.

Step by step, life in Ukraine is improving. New businesses pop up here and there. The tech products, gadgets, and all modern conveniences are available in stores and small shops everywhere. People must have money to buy them. Low overhead is the standard in Ukraine.

Language schools are popping up everywhere. English is the most studied language. German, French and Italian, follow. People want to travel. They will save, save, save, to see their dream.

Mark’s Moments

Sveta and I traveled to Chernomorsk this month. We met with our massage therapists, children and their parents, our manager, and the students of our transportation scholarship program. See the video of our transportation scholarship students! We see that things are going well. We have many stories to tell.

Each visit, we talk with the transportation scholarship students. This time we have a new student (left) who replaced another student no longer needing our help. His name is Vitalik. He moved to Chernomorsk from war-torn Donetsk, Ukraine. Here is his story.

Vitalik is studying safety information, protection against viruses, for computers. He is in his fourth year of university. His parents stayed in Donetsk but he moved to Chernomorsk to be able to get a diploma that is not associated with Donetsk universities. Universities and businesses in the rest of Ukraine do not want to work with people who stood behind Donetsk in the war zone. It is assumed that if you live in the Donetsk area, you are part of the problem. Vitalik is not part of the problem, he very pro-Ukrainian.

In Chernomorsk he found a good church with wonderful friends. He is involved with a ministry that further strengthens his relationship with God and his friends. All four of our students: Vitalik, Nastya, Daniel and Artur are members of the same church. They serve in one ministry to help teenagers connect with God. They are successful in education and developing a relationship with God. Each of them send words of gratitude to our sponsors. They thank you!

Dr. Natalya B, wearing the lab coat, and I moved the massage therapy concept forward in 2004. The oldest patient in the picture is fifteen years old. When she was 3 years old, she was one of our first patients. Six parents brought their children to tell Sveta and me their stories. Each child is severely disabled, abandoned by their family doctors. Each parent is very please that MUCH initiated the program and sponsors a portion of their child’s treatment. They see progress for their child and find hope for their family. They thank you!

Sveta’s Journey

Nine months ago, when Barbara came to this world, the doctors set many negative diagnoses for this girl, one of which was liver cancer. Their verdict did not give any hope for the parents. The doctors predicted that the child would not live. The struggle for Barbara’s life continued. Every day, doctors prescribed a huge list of expensive medicine. They punctured the spinal cord and brain to remove fluid for analysis. Barbara’s mother spent three months with her child in the hospital. When the doctors suspected that one of the kidneys was functioning incorrectly, they wanted to operate. The parents understood this to be only an experiment (exploratory surgery).

They decided to visit another doctor and get a second opinion. This doctor, after the examination, said that the child did not have cancer. He canceled all previous diagnoses and the list of expensive medicines. As it turned out, the source of the illness occurred during childbirth. Barbara proceeded through the birth canal for a long time. As she breathed in the amniotic fluid it had a negative effect on the lungs, creating pneumonia. This is a rare situation.

It is very important to establish the correct diagnosis and conduct appropriate treatment. The girl was treated. Now Barbara is a healthy child. Only a small problem worried her parents. Her leg muscles were very tight at the hip joints and could not spread her thighs as they should.

Ira, our massage therapist, gave her a course of massage. On the seventh day of massage therapy, the hypertonus muscle disappeared, the legs at the hip joints began to spread apart correctly. Barbara’s mother sees this good result. She is very pleased and grateful to the sponsors of MUCH. Also, Mark and I had a great opportunity to tell Barbara’s mother about God. She showed great interest and asked many questions about religion. Thank you all for your support of the MUCH massage program. The children not only receive help and recovery, but also Mark and I can visit families and talk about the Father and Jesus. The parents, and Mark and I and thank you!

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

Sveta’s Story

“Poverty has many roots, but the tap root is ignorance.”
“Poverty should not be a barrier to learning, and learning must offer a way out of poverty.” Lyndon B. Johnson.

Poverty is often associated with limited access to knowledge beyond the classroom. During Soviet times all education was free, and everyone had to work or face imprisonment. Today, the Ukrainian government provides limited free assistance other than trade school or college for orphans, in preparation to enter the work force. Unemployment is high, wages are low, and fewer jobs are available. Ukraine continues to struggle to stabilize its economy even after twenty-two years of being an independent country.

Living in poverty is not living, it is survival. The main task is to earn money for food, clothing, and shelter. Education is the key to the destruction of poverty. It helps people become more confident in themselves and be responsible citizens.

In many families, fathers who were educated in professions during the Soviet system are not able to succeed in life. They are seeking to find work that is suitable for their professional training with appropriate financial compensation. It is almost impossible to find appropriate work, especially after the age of 40 years. They cannot give their children an education, and they start drinking.

I want to tell you an example from my personal life. After the death of my first husband, I raised two children alone. When my son Misha graduated from high school, he had to choose where he would study. Even though I had good income at my job at the seaport, I did not have money to pay for university education for my son. My entire salary went to pay for utilities, food, clothing and other general living expenses. He did attend trade school to study appliance repair because it was free.

Sveta’s Son, Misha, Ira, and Masha

My father, who was a highly licensed welder, was concerned for Misha’s future. He and Mom paid for my son’s five-year study of agriculture at the University. With a diploma, Misha was able to get a good job, where he now is a supervisor over thirty workers. Now his goal is to save money for his three-year-old daughter to attend higher education in her future.

 

 

Misha’s wife, Ira, also attended university, but only had funds for one year of classes. She works now and has a great desire to complete her university education as soon as they have the available funds.

Sveta’s daughter, Olga

My parents paid for a three-year education for my daughter in college. Her education cost as much as university studies. Now she has a wonderful profession as a hairdresser; she loves her work.

Many of Misha’s friends did not have the opportunity of higher education. They did not have parents or grandparents who had the interest or the means to help with their education. His friends had no motivation. Because of this, they have chosen the lifestyle of their families. They drink alcohol to excess and have no vision for their future.

You can give the four girls in our program a great opportunity to start their adult lives with the best knowledge that will help them realize the potential which lies within them. Don’t miss seeing two of the girls talk about their futures. YouTube Preview Image They will, in the future, encourage and help others. I think the hearts of these four beautiful students are filled with compassion for people who have needs, and they will encourage and support others because others encourage and support them now.

$10 will help Nastya and Natasha change their communities in Ukraine!
Click here

Crime Prevention Through Education

In 1975, I was studying Criminology as my college major. I wrote a term paper entitled “Crime Prevention Through Education” for one of my courses. I received a top grade from my teacher, but the students, many of whom were police officers, saw things differently.

In the 1970s, new approaches of preventing crime were being investigated. Of course, the general methods of crime prevention that the police officers in the class reported on were also good. The difference was that they were dealing with preventing the criminal from acting. I was writing about preventing the individual from becoming a criminal.

There are a multitude of methods used to prevent the criminal from acting. Motion-activated lights, glass windows on lighted stairwells, car alarms for theft detection, and keeping shrubbery cut and giving the property a look of being lived-in are only a few. This was the mindset of the police officers and other criminology students in my class. So much so, that one of the police officers stood up after my presentation, and challenged my “theory”.

My thoughts and the thoughts of a growing number, were that crime is the result of poor education. Not only poor education, but the lack of particular subjects in the education curriculum. Does education prepare student to know how to find employment, participate in an interview, raise a family, and become active in local community affairs? How does society, or education as a product of society, prepare teens and young adults for marriage? When should sex education be taught in the schools? That remains a hot topic. Parenthood is not something that should be a surprise. It should be desired and planned. Good education provides opportunities for students to become members of society who will be successful in life and not turn toward crime.

Why do girls turn to prostitution? Here is a video about prostitution in Ukraine which shows the result of poor education and bad family life.

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The need for higher education in Ukraine and the effect that it will have in breaking the cycle of poverty can’t be overstated. MUCH believes that higher education is one big answer to changing the future of the small cities and villages in Ukraine. That is why we continue our scholarship program. If you can believe it, transportation from Illichevsk to a university in Odessa and back per school year, cost about the same as tuition for a university degree.

Will you help us help the students of Ukraine? It is amazing that $80 a month will put a student through the university program in Ukraine and provide a bite to eat each day.

Your $10 will help MUCH help our university students!
Click here!

How Does Education Break the Cycle of Poverty?

What is the cycle of poverty? How does it begin? It can begin with financial crisis or it may be the person’s physical or mental abilities that limit them. There are other possibilities. However it begins, the cycle will pass from generation to generation, unless there is a desire for change. The desire for change is stifled by a number of factors. The sense of family is very strong. “If this life (poverty) is good enough for my parents, it is okay for me.” Peer-pressure pushes children into class-cliques, developing groups that accept their station in life. These are the two main obstacles, but there are others. Having a mindset for the status quo is quite powerful.

One of the downfalls of living in poverty is that abuse of alcohol and or drugs, becomes a common form of recreation or escape from life’s difficulties. Television advertisements for alcohol suggest it as a reward for hard work, or a drink to share with friends. Unfortunately, this post-Soviet society has a long history of alcohol abuse that dates back more than 200 years. In Illichevsk, wine is a major business and export product. The grocery stores have aisles of alcoholic drinks with vodka and other hard liquors.

All of these factors promote a lifestyle that is not about change. To break the cycle of poverty, there must be a desire for change; there must be change. Education is the main factor that can provide change. This is a proven fact in the history of America. Here are a number of YouTube videos from the YouthBuild program in America.YouTube Preview Image

What promotes the desire for change? Change is not easy. It takes hard work. Even more, it requires a support group, whether it be parents, friends, classmates or mentors. Even cheerleaders are important. When a student is cheered-on, his or her accomplishments take on a new value and motivation.

How does this work? In schools, teachers and guidance counselors understand the needs and potential of the student. Helping the student understand his or her own potential and interest is vital. Guiding him or her to higher education as a reality is a necessity. The student must have a dream. The dream should have achievable goals. Meet two students who have achievable goals and are moving forward.

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Help us change the poverty of Illichevsk, one student at a time!

Help send MUCH students to university with a gift of $10!
Click here!

Education Breaks the Cycle of Poverty

In 2003, I began to participate daily in the Emmaus Food Program in Illichevsk, Ukraine. Operated by a local church, this organization reached out to children from difficult homes with one hot meal a day, Bible study, a sewing club, craft activities, and lots of love. In this city of 65,000, there were 300 families where the children were identified as living in extreme need of help. Fifty of these children attended Emmaus. Many were elementary school age. Most of them attended the school for children with lower abilities. They may not have been truly limited in their ability, but their home environment lacked nurturing and had no potential as a study environment. Even more, some home environments were lice infested, or parents were alcoholics or drug users.

I interacted with these children for a number of years, eating lunch with them and participating in their other activities. When some of the older children were ready to graduate high school, I learned that they would no longer be eligible to attend Emmaus. When I asked the program manager what would happen to the children, a sad expression crossed her face. She explained that some would learn a trade, but most would remain in a negative family environment and would begin to follow the lifestyles of their parents.

I asked about the opportunities for college or university for the students who had earned high grades. The potential for being awarded a scholarship was good for those students, but they had to pay for their own transportation. Students from difficult homes who had high grades had no money for transportation. There were four students who fell into this category. One was somewhat lazy and chose to succumb to the affections of an older man. The second chose to get married to her boyfriend sooner rather than later, and passed on higher education. The third wanted to study to be a lawyer, an advocate for children. The fourth wanted to study to be a kindergarten teacher.

In 2007, I initiated the Transportation Scholarship Program through Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope (MUCH) at my Ukraine base in Illichevsk, providing funds for transportation to university in Odessa. The third and fourth students gladly participated. Both students did well during the first two years. Somewhere in the third year, one of these student disappeared from our radar. She was on her own, without any parental guidance. She may have connected with a group in Odessa and continued, but no one in our network knew what had become of her.

The first student to complete the program, Vika, is a great success story. See Vika, A Success Story in the Making. We have a second success story in the making. This student, also named Vika, is studying pharmacology in the nursing program. See her short video YouTube Preview Image.

This year we have three additional applicants.

It is amazing that tuition is about the same cost as transportation from Illichevsk to Odessa. We are interested in helping as many students as we can to break their cycle of poverty. After operating the program for 6 years, MUCH will broaden the program to offer a specific dollar figure for scholarships, either for tuition or transportation.

There are other disadvantaged children in Illichevsk who could benefit from higher education. By focusing on their need, we hope to encourage support for more of them to go on to higher education. For $80 a month, you can send a child to college or university and they will have enough to get something small to eat each day. A group of four could co-sponsor a student for $20 each per month. Imagine, you could help a child break out of the cycle of poverty in his or her life. In turn you could help stimulate the hope that it is possible to change the cycle of poverty in their community.

Your $10 will add up! Click here!

Transportation Scholarship

In 2002, I began to support the Emmaus Food Program. This program, operated by the local Baptist church, reached out to children from difficult homes. Some of the children came to eat without having showered for days; some of the children arrived with lice in their hair, and others appeared in clothes that seemed to stick to their bodies.

After interacting with the children for a few years, I realized that no matter how good the program was, the children aged out when they graduated high school and had nowhere to go for help. What was next for them? This was the big question that entered my mind. My evaluation was that the children would continue to live with their parents, and many would follow in their parents’ footsteps, using alcohol and drugs to escape the seemingly hopeless situation of their lives. How could this cycle of poverty be broken?

One very powerful answer is higher education. In 2007, I had a vision of helping students who qualified for higher education, but needed transportation funds to and from Odessa. MUCH began the Transportation Scholarship Program, beginning with two students enrolled in a four-year university program. Transportation to and from Odessa universities in 2007 cost about a $1 a day. In 2012, the cost has risen to $3.33 a day. One of our students graduated, see our January 2012 Newsletter, but it was unfortunate that the second student dropped out of our program. Our third student began university in 2010, and she is doing very well. You can also read about her in the June 2012 Newsletter.

Our first student to complete the program studied to be an English teacher. She has since married, and she has given birth to a baby girl. In the future, she will use her education to help get a good job, but for now, her education will help her to be a better mother. Our third student, still in the program, is studying pharmacology. Each student has worked through difficult times, but their desires and goals are stronger than the challenges that they faced.

I began to investigate the number of children in Illichevsk who are in need of financial help for higher education. I didn’t have to go far to learn that there are many. My current goal for the school year beginning September 2013, is to add three students to our existing program, which will total three students in Illichevsk and one in Froonza. To send these four students to university, the transportation cost will be about $80 for each student per month.

You can help a student afford university.
One year for 4 students costs only $3040

$10 will go a long way! Click here!

Education Scholarship Fundraiser

Mark Koehler, founder and Vice President in charge of Field Operations, and his wife Sveta, operate Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope (MUCH) from their base in Illichevsk, Ukraine. MUCH, a 501 (c) (3) charitable nonprofit Christian ministry has dedicated itself to helping disadvantaged children in Ukraine communities and orphanages since 2004. We focus our mission in three categories of support: Education, Healthcare, and Clothing. In 2007, the Scholarship program began. The massage therapy program for children with disabilities gave birth in 2004. The first outreach program set in motion monthly provisions of clothing for children in an orphanage in 2002.

Who Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope
What Fundraiser for Education Scholarships $6,080
Where Illichevsk, Ukraine
When August 14 – 17, 2013
Why Scholarship for 4 students, university or college
How Internet: Facebook and Twitter

A $10 contribution will go a long way!!!

MUCH is having its first internet fundraiser, using Facebook and Twitter. The focus is on education; our goal is to raise $6,080 for two years at university or college for 4 students.

This education fundraising event will take place August 14 through August 17, 2013. Each day, two or more articles will be posted on the Facebook MUCH Page www.facebook.com/smMUCH and the MUCH website www.muchhope.org . The articles will explain about education in Ukraine, some of the problems that deny children higher education, and will share about our students-in-waiting, with stories and videos.

Articles

August 14

Introduce the fundraiser

August 15

Transportation scholarship

Education Breaks the Cycle of Poverty

August 16

How does Education Break the Cycle of Poverty

Crime Prevention Through Education

August 17

Sveta’s Story

When You Find a Heart for Children, Nourish it!

Vika, A Nursing Scholarship

Final Report of the Fundraiser

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