Tag Archives: Education

January 2017

Hello family and friends,

We reached our Christmas fundraiser goal! Director Lyesya of the Ternava village school is making purchases as I write to you. We will share more next month.
to ALL who made this fundraiser a success!

We are beginning January 2017 with a number of new programs. You may have read about them in previous newsletters. Here is a list of what we are doing in 2017.

New Programs
Veleeky Lubin Orphanage — one massage therapist for children with disabilities

Mykolaiv — two massage therapists for children with disabilities

Marganets Transition Home — one massage therapist for children from difficult homes

Ongoing Programs
Dobromel Orphanage — two massage therapists
— two computer classes

Chornomorsk — three massage therapists
— transportation scholarship – 4 students
School #3 — clothing program
Transition Home — clothing program

Ongoing projects, and new projects that Sveta and I want for 2017

Marganets School #3 — improving education equipment

Ternava village school — improving education equipment
Ovidiopol village center — massage therapy for children with disabilities

Shostakova village school — improving education equipment

Maximovka village school — improving education equipment

Mark’s Moments

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Read on to learn about some of our programs through Sveta’s eyes!

Sveta’s Journey

DSC03448The Transportation Scholarship Program began in Chornomorsk in 2007. We currently have four students in college and university programs. Your help for our students is HUGE! We met with them and each of them has a big reason to say thanks to you, dear friends! They are standing in the picture right to left.

Three years ago Nastya’s father died, and it was at this time that she began to participate in our program. Nastya told us, “Without your financial support, it would be impossible for me to continue my education.” She is studying to be a music conductor.

Anya has five brothers and sisters in her family. Some of them are also college students. She asked us to thank you. Because of your financial help, Anya can continue her education. She is studying to be an elementary school teacher with a focus on the English language.

For the family of Daniel, your financial gift is also a great help. He needs extra lessons in mathematics. Help with the cost of his transportation to Odessa and back makes a big difference for his family. He, his sister, and parents are very grateful for your help. Daniel is studying at the college of radio and mobile instrumentation. He has a big heart. He shares his meager lunch with his friend who has even less.

Arthur’s parents have a small salary. Their situation was very difficult, but their choices were simple. They had money to pay for utilities and food or education, but not both. You gave them a third choice. Arthur is more thankful than words can say. He is studying at the college of music studies. Listen as he plays the violin very well.

This year we closed the clothing program in the orphanage, but God opened a new door in another facility. In January we started a massage therapy program for children at the Transition Home. The children in this program live at this facility for nine months. Massage therapy is very important for these children. For them it is a stressful period in their lives. They have been taken from their family for their own safety, but it is never-the-less a very perplexing time. The children need supportive relationships and healing experiences for the body and soul.

Through massage therapy, step-by-step, the children will receive emotional, social, psychological, and physical rehabilitation. Our massage therapist, Yana, with her ten years of experience, has a great love for these children. She is happy to give massage treatments to the children in the Transition Home!

All who read our newsletters, thank you for your interest in what we do! To our American team, those who pray, encourage, volunteer administrators, and financially support MUCH, you are the heart and soul that God works through to continue to move God’s work forward. Thank each of you from the bottoms of our hearts.
Living my dream,

2017 is going to be a very productive year for MUCH. Readers, share our stories with your friends, and be a part of the MUCH adventure!

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

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]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-NGTPT3a-Y&feature=c4-overview&list=UU7wsKHT3uX4x-VzXgDH8gUw[/youtube]

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

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

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]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFEMAc2Hh_8&feature=c4-overview&list=UU7wsKHT3uX4x-VzXgDH8gUw[/youtube] 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.


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]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8JDdmqYObQ&list=PL1zQtU7glYWmEC_S28-imfz0UwzuSvQLG[/youtube]

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.


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]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-NGTPT3a-Y&feature=c4-overview&list=UU7wsKHT3uX4x-VzXgDH8gUw[/youtube].

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.


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

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:


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.


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.


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!”


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!


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,


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!


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.


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.


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.


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,

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