Tag Archives: Crisis in Ukraine

April 2014

Hello family and friends,

April 15 is tax day in America. In Ukraine, it has traditionally been the day the local governments turn off the heating service in the cities. This year, because of the conflict with Russia, that date was changed to April 1, not a very nice April Fool’s joke. In Nikolayev and Illichevsk, close to the sea, the temperatures are warmer than the rest of the country. Even so, we have been having temperatures in the upper 30s F and the lower 40s F. Then, there are the cities like Marganets and Borislav that have had no heat above 40 F, year round, for the past 12 or more years. Welcome to Ukraine!

Heating up the country, the presidential elections will take place in May. Click on the blue highlighted links.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_presidential_election,_2014

It appears that the top two candidates for the 2014 presidential election will be Julia Timoshenko

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yulia_Tymoshenko

and Petro Poroshenko, the “Chocolate King”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petro_Poroshenko

Let’s see what else is happening.

Mark’s Moments
It seems that Ukraine is learning that freedom is not free. Corruption over the past 23 years of freedom in Ukraine has destroyed the economy of the country. On the brink of bankruptcy, Ukraine has agreed to the terms of the IMF to receive some of the financial help needed. The terms will create difficult times for the people of Ukraine. Here are some of the changes that will take place.

Some of the developing details are a 47% to 66% increase in personal income tax rates; a 50% increase in monthly gas bills; a 40% increase on gas tariffs for heating companies; and an increase in taxes on agribusiness. In addition, while some at the IMF have speculated the currency’s devaluation against the dollar year-to-date (35+ %) is enough to satisfy the fund’s penchant for ‘correcting imbalances,’ others are maintaining that the currency needs to get even weaker. Click on the blue highlighted link.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2014/03/28/ukraine-welcomes-imf-austerity-regime/2/

President Obama and the EU have enforced sanctions against Russia a number of weeks ago. There is a second round of sanctions ready to be put into action if Russia breaches Ukrainian’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. As paid rabble-rousers are sent to Ukraine from Russia to try to get more referendums started in major eastern cities of Ukraine, the new sanctions are being voted on and readied for retaliation against Russia’s move to claim more of Ukraine for itself. What will the sanctions do to Russia; what will the sanctions do to the people of the EU? Click on the blue highlighted links.
http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/305304/Export+controls+Trade+Investment+Sanctions/A+Potential+Fork+In+The+Road+US+And+EU+Sanctions+Relating+To+The+Ukrainian+Crisis

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/09/world/europe/russia-ukraine-unrest.html?_r=0

There is no question that this Ukrainian situation over the Crimean crisis had created an international conundrum. No one wants another military war; everyone is in agreement of that, I think. Even so, sanctions will create a trade war that will have effects on all involved. International trade with Russia has created a need for Russian goods, mainly gas and oil. It will take time to replace the immediate needs of importers and exporters. For more information on this subject click on the highlighted link in blue.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26612848

Last week and this week while working at our house, I was aware of two jets flying low in the sky. This was a daily occurrence. Looking for an answer, I learned that NATO is watching the borders of Ukraine.
How will all of this affect MUCH? As Sveta suggested in the March newsletter, we no longer have access to wire money through banks to Crimea as of the end of March. Things did move very quickly in Crimea. Russian passports were being registered for all Crimean residents, while deporting all of the Ukrainian military and some other Ukrainian citizens. The ruble is now being used along with the Ukrainian grevnya until they can change the currency to only the ruble. This means that MUCH no longer can operate the Froonza Massage Therapy Program. We cannot get money to them, and we cannot get to them to visit without a visa, and maybe not even then, since Americans and Ukrainians will not be welcome in Crimea by the Russian government.

Walking in His shoes,
Mark

In the midst of the problems of Ukraine, Sveta has some good news about the children!

Sveta’s Journey
It is very sad that we stopped the massage program in the Crimean village of Froonza. Because Crimea became part of Russia, it appears that MUCH will not continue to work there. Two years ago, several mothers from Froonza whose children have disabilities wished to meet with Mark. They asked him to continue the program. Given the fact that the village is far away from the city, it is almost impossible to bring the children to the city for daily massage treatment by bus. The massage program in Froonza was a great help not only for children from this village, but also from neighboring villages. MUCH was the catalyst; we set the example. We hope that the current government will pay attention to the needs of children in the villages. We continue to communicate with Anya, who is our manager in Froonza.

P1010034Since MUCH began sponsoring the computer program at the orphanage in Dobromel, the children have been making great advances. These lessons are the children’s favorite and most interesting subject. The children of all ages love these fascinating lessons; no one is indifferent. Two years ago when the program began, the children did not even know how to turn on the computer. The children had a great desire to enter the computer age. Volodya, a young and enthusiastic teacher, approached teaching the children with individual programs designed to advance each child according to their own ability. Using a step-by-step process, the children build their knowledge from the foundation upward according to their own readiness. Volodya wrote us that as the children acquire the skills to work on the computer, they increasing their self-confidence, and they increase their belief in their own abilities. They have a great desire to continue to study the world of education through the computer!

In Illichevsk the transportation scholarship program is continuing! Vika has been in this program for three years. She will graduate her nursing education next month. Click here to see her video from last year. We have two lovely students Natasha and Nastya, who MUCH will support beginning September 2014.

DSCN5446Mark and I rejoice with the two girls. They are very pleased to receive this wonderful opportunity to be in the program thanks to you, the sponsors. Last year Mark made a video with them, interviewing them about their education plans. Click here to see the video. Natasha and Nastya waited for a year and the day finally came! During this year, the girls were not idle, but diligently continued their studies and earned money knowing the dire financial situation of their families. The transportation scholarship pays for transportation to and from their universities and gives them a small stipend for food during the trips.

20130321_094105

 

At the Dobromel Orphanage, Natasha, the massage therapist, is doing a great job. She is seeing very good results with all of the children. Three years ago, Serozja was walking on the toes of one of his feet. This caused additional problems with his hip. After three years of massage therapy, beginning at age 14, he is walking much better. The heel of his one foot is now almost touching the ground when he walks.

 

We have written several times about two boys who had big physical and emotional problems. At the moment, both children are improved mentally and emotionally.Two Boys

Both had some degree of scoliosis. Today, there is almost no sign of scoliosis in the spines of these two boys. The staff of the orphanage, including the nurse, are witnesses to these wonderful changes!

The massage therapist Natasha continues to work with these children. This work brings her great satisfaction and pleasure. Mark and I see Natasha’s dedication to this cause. She is very grateful to the American people who support the massage program at the Dobromel Orphanage.

Living my dream,
Sveta

As I read the news on the internet about the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, it is difficult to understand what is true, real, and worth reading. There seems to be an information war in progress. We ask for your prayers for peace in Ukraine. The election will provide a new government in May. What happens between now and then remains a big question. The children are innocent. They don’t know about politics. MUCH has the passion to continue to help the children in Dobromel, Illichevsk, and Marganets. Work with us to change the futures of these children. We are living in dangerous times in Ukraine. Help us protect the children.

We want to thank our supporters for the prayers, love and support you have expressed for the children, the mission and for us personally. It means so much to know that you care about the continuation of the care for the children during this unsettled time. We do not fear for our safety; we fear only for the interruption of the programs that mean so much to the children and their families who, like families everywhere, want a bright future for their children. For those children who have no families, they need to know that despite other changes in the country, they have loving friends in the United States and other countries who care about them.

March 2014

Hello family and friends,

Winter has returned to our village with life-disrupting weather. High winds knocked out the electricity and blew out the pilot light to the on-demand water heater, causing the house to cool down gradually. Those inconveniences, along with four of five adults in the household fighting the flu, February ended leaving Sveta and me without energy, once again. Let’s see what is happening in the rest of Ukraine.

Mark’s Moments

February brought an end to violence in Kiev. As the new government has adopted the 2004 Constitution, they have put out an arrest warrant for Victor Yanukovych for the murder of more than 80 citizens in the Kiev demonstrations. The Swiss have launched a money-laundering probe (click on blue highlight) against Yanukovych and his allies. He has run to Russia for protection. You can read more here.

Politically, we have serious work to do to hold the country together. (click on blue highlight) What you will not read in the news is how day-to-day life goes on in the cities and villages that are not close to the conflict areas. For instance, in our household in the village, there are very different views. Sveta’s parents are pro-Russia and Sveta and I are pro-European Union. They see life as it was in the past; we see reality and the future of Ukraine as a free democratic country. This is typical of the older generation who grew up dependent on the Soviet government. We don’t have political conflict in the family, mostly because life keeps us too busy.

Life is always here: food, water, transportation, and work. Without electricity in the village, we have no water. Summer preserves are stored in the underground cold cellar, the chickens have to be fed, eggs collected, and chickens are killed, all for food. Trips to the store are a necessity, also. That requires cash. Those on a pension get their money at the post office bank. Others are using credit or debit cards at the ATMs, which brings me to somewhat of a current crisis. Eleven years ago, the ATMs were new to Ukraine; today everybody and their brother are using them. Eleven years ago, people kept their money under the mattress, and some still do today.

In December, I could withdraw 1500 grevnya at a time and continue to do so for as much as my bank would allow. In early March, most ATMs limited me to 500 grevnya, one time per day. Sveta went to shop in the city for food. She spent 400 grevnya (about $46) and was dismayed at how little food she had. If you live in the village, it is difficult to do a big shopping without going to town a few days in a row to collect money. If you live in town, you can walk to the ATM each day, but you still have to wait to shop.

When the ATMs crisis began, people were standing in lines ten-deep, (click blue highlight) waiting to see if they could get money. I saw no anger, but the people felt that they were being thrown back into the old mentality of oppression, “This is our life; what can we do?”

In many cities, the statues of Lenin have been torn down. (click blue highlight) To my delight, Sveta told me that the local government of Nikolayev asked our pastor and a number of other pastors what they think should be put in place of the removed statues of Lenin. Our pastor suggested, “It would be nice to have the Ten Commandments displayed.” What a turn of events that would be; can you imagine?

I am very impressed that the whole country did not go crazy during these events. The people in key cities have protested, prayed, made their point, and stood their ground. Others, for instance, in Froonza and Saki, a regional city, and one of its villages in Crimea, continued life as normal. Talking with our manager in Froonza, I was told that things were operating as normal.

Walking in His shoes,

Mark

Sveta always has a unique view on our life in Ukraine. Here is her story.

Sveta’s Journey

The current developments in Ukraine are disturbing and frightening, but it is our hope and trust in the Lord, Jesus Christ, that He will give protection and assist His people during this difficult time.

P1010175After the referendum, Crimea has begun to be a part of Russia in the eyes of Russia and many Crimean people. The main banks have closed, and Ukrainian money is not readily available. The goal of Russia is to change the money to Russian rubles. How soon that may happen is unknown. We have a massage therapy program in Crimea. The future of it is questionable for two reasons. First, the transfer of money using a banking system may not be realistic, as it is now. Second, is that the freedom for us to travel to Crimea without a visa may no longer be a freedom.

Because of your financial support, we are able to meet some of the needs of the children in the different regions of Ukraine and Crimea, and visit them twice a year. When we do visit the children, we don’t bring them physical gifts to build our relationship with them. Rather, we bring them God’s love.

DSCN7367I was looking at pictures of the children from our visit in the fall of last year when Mark and I were at the orphanage in Marganets. I re-read short notes that the children wrote for us. I gave them an assignment to write their dreams of what they want to be when they become adults. Some children did not understand the task and just wrote short wishes and declarations of love, drawing pictures of us and writing “Mark and Sveta, we love you”, “Aunt Sveta, God bless you”, “I want you to come more often, we all will be glad to see you”, “we love you”.

The other children have written about their future professions: I want to drive a tractor, be a teacher, manicurist, a taxi driver, masseuse, foreman, hairdresser…
I kept these cute little pieces of paper with the children’s handwriting and decorations with hearts. Sometimes I take them out and reread them. It brings me joy and delight.

I see that the children, who are serious about their futures, wanting to be a significant contribution to society, are a little worried about their future. Will their dreams materialize into reality, the stark reality of life, and lead them on the waves of life’s storms? DSCN6860

I trust God that He will be always near to these children, and His assistance and protection be with them when they enter the adult world.

Every evening during our visit, the children accompanied us to the gate, and we have long goodbyes, hugging and wishing each other all the best. — We miss them.

Help for children should not stop due to the situation in the country. They continue to DSCN6734need our help. According to a conversation that I had today with the manager at the orphanage in Marganets, the government is giving less of the basic cleaning supplies for the children. MUCH makes a big contribution at this orphanage each month. Even so, not all of the needs of the children are being met.

Your sponsorship for the children of Ukraine meets their basic needs of clothes and shoes, improved education, and some medical conditions. Thank you for your constant care, showing your love and mercy.

Living my dream,

Sveta

Ukraine is building a new government. It is cleaning house of corruption and Russian influence. During this time, those who will be in greatest need will be the elderly and the children. Let’s help Ukraine influence its children, the future leaders of Ukraine. Maybe our children will not be the future leaders of Ukraine, although, how we care for them will influence the society that they live in, and thosewho will lead their local government. The ripple effect is far reaching.

You can see all of our videos at

http://www.youtube.com/user/smMUCH

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta