Category Archives: Ukraine

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.

If you are an honest man working in the Russian government, your days are numbered. Russia has its own form of terrorism.

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.

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 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

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

May 2016

Hello family and friends,

May brings us to the end of another school year. Let’s look back and see two ways that MUCH has influenced the children through the Christmas Fundraiser.
Before we do, I will honor my mother, and the part that she played in the development of MUCH.

Mark’s MomentsApril 2016 sent
May 11, 2016, Patricia Murphy Koehler moved from this life to her eternal reward. I would like to share with all of our MUCH readers, sponsors, and friends some brief stories of how Pat, my mother, influenced what became Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope, and how it influenced her.

In September of 2000, I announced my ‘calling’ to move to Ukraine. Mom was impressed with my spiritual direction. She was very supporting of my ‘calling’, but she had the normal concerns of a mother. For the next two years, Mom shared related newspaper articles and other current information that she thought would help guide me. When I began to sell all of my possessions, Mom asked what I was going to do with my duplex. I said that I would probably sell it. Without rental management experience, she offered to manage it for me. Mom was not afraid to tackle anything.

My passion was for children in need. I believed that I would feed the homeless children in Odessa, Ukraine. One week before I moved to Ukraine, I had not developed a solid plan, and only knew one or two people in Ukraine. As Mom and I ate lunch one afternoon, she looked at me with caring eyes and great concern. She said very gently, “So Mark, what will you do, stand on the street corner and hand out bread?” I told her that if God called me, He would provide direction. It was at this point that Mom’s faith began to grow.

Toward the end of 2003, it was clear that my ministry was established. It was also clear that to continue, I needed a non-profit status to allow for tax deductible contributions. Mom realized all of the factors involved and set about creating Mission Ukraine Children’s Hope and the non-profit status without any legal help. This task was complete in March of 2004.

Until that time, Mom and I were in constant contact, moving ‘my mission’ forward. Mom was my biggest cheerleader. When she created the non-profit, MUCH, she solicited board members. Among them were my brothers and my sister. Mom was the driving force, with God as her fuel, to move MUCH forward.

Also in 2004, now under the guidance of a board of directors, we began the massage therapy program for children with disabilities. This was a great joy for Mom, having taught students to be teachers of children with disabilities at Slippery Rock University for twenty years. She was atop all of the medical details that were discussed at the board meetings.

Mom was the treasurer of MUCH, carefully watching over the financial process along with the finance committee. From the beginning, it was Mom’s conversations with friends and acquaintances that grew the support of the mission. Her own contributions grew as the mission blossomed. Until her stroke in 2014, Mom poured her heart into MUCH.

For twelve years, Mom set to the task of taking her part of God’s work in Ukraine as her personal ministry. Every couple of years Mom would tell me, “Mark, because of your faith, my faith is growing.” The truth is, her faith was growing because she engaged in the mission. Mom’s faith in God grew because she was a vessel that God was working through. This had always been the case in her many endeavors. MUCH required Mom to believe in what she hoped for and have full confidence about what she could not see. This was the faith that was growing in her over the years. And it was this faith that prepared her to meet Jesus face to face on May 11.

Sveta’s Journey
Pat, my wonderful mother-in-law, was more than I could ever have dreamed. She was a beautiful, kind, tactful, and intelligent woman, and she loved me.

My mother-in-law was an example for me. Her life was filled with helping others find their gifts and talents. I heard many stories of many people that she helped to climb the steps in their fields of study. It was so impressive to me. It was not as if she gave a one-time financial gift, but rather, she helped people see their hidden talents and opened opportunities to use them. It was a gift from God, and Pat used it fully.

Mom loved God and loved people. She believed in the Son of God and lived the golden rule: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.”

It’s hard to part with loved ones, particularly when you share a common Spirit. Mark and I believe that we will meet her in Heaven in the mansions of our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The work that Mark and Pat started in 2002 continues. God is the director, we are the vessels.

Computer TabletsDSC01941
Marganets School № 3 received a great blessing through the Christmas fundraiser. Now, all of the elementary classes use computer tablets for many lessons.

The fifteen computer tablets that MUCH bought for the school are stored in a safe, in a secure room. Each of the elementary classes is scheduled to use the tablets in their classroom at different times of the day. In this fourth grade class, two children work with one computer tablet. The children were very excited to show us the video programs that they created.

The children of grades one through six are using the computer tablets in each of the subjects to enhance their learning experience. Internet access is available throughout the school. I call this a Christmas gift that keep on giving. Thank you MUCH sponsors!

Lighted Sandbox table
The lighted sandbox was another gift from the Christmas fundraiser. The school psychologist and speech therapist use this sandbox to connect with the emotion, creative thought, and self expression of the child. They are having many great positive results.DSC01960

We saw great joy on the children’s faces when they worked in the sand. Mark and I watched as the children and School Psychologist showed us how they use this gift from MUCH.

Sponsors of MUCH, we are very grateful to you for helping the staff of this school improve their programs to connect with the children in the best ways. Your gifts are improving their education, and helping to heal the brokenness of the children. Thank you very much!

Living my dream,
Two years ago Anatoliy Vlasov, the visionary for the programs and projects in Marganets, left this life to go to his final reward. This May, Mom, the heart and soul of promoting MUCH, has also moved on to her final reward. What will become of MUCH? As always, God will provide. MUCH is ready for more missionaries. We will talk more about this in the June Newsletter.

You can see all of our videos at our Youtube site

Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta

Vika, Nursing Scholarship

Vika is our second scholarship student. She is doing well in her program at the medical college. She reported last term that her studies were challenging but she was maintaining her grades.

This young adult lead a life of uncertainty as a child. Her parents did their best to give her a positive life in the midst of their poverty in Illichevsk. She had a good relationship with her grandmother. She told me about how she helped give her grandmother injections. This was the catalyst for her interest in nursing.

I met Vika long before I saw her at Emmaus Food Program. That was in 2004. I saw her a few more times, walking in the streets of Illichevsk. She seemed to be without friends, yet calm and pleasant .Vika’s mother was not happy about her interest in the Emmaus Food Program. The Baptist Church is viewed as a sect by many people in Ukraine. This did not stop Vika from building a strong relationship with the manager of Emmaus. She saw the value and kindness of the people.
By the time I met up with her at Emmaus, she was full of enthusiasm and hope. She continues to project the same personality today. Don’t miss seeing her video. [youtube][/youtube]

Our goal for Vika in the coming school year is $760.

Will your $10 help Vika complete her nursing degree? Click here

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 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 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,

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