Tag Archives: Healthcare

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

April 2013 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,

Mark and Sveta Koehler

Mark and Sveta Koehler

April is a funny kind of month. Many people in Ukraine are tilling the land and planting their gardens. The temperature remains cold, somewhere in the upper thirties, but warmer weather is on the way. The public transportation is filled with people carrying garden implements, seeds and saplings, on the way to their dacha (little garden in the country). After working hard all day in the dacha, they come home to warm houses or apartments in the city. Then, comes April 15. The city heating system is shut off until October 15. At times, it is colder inside than outside. Life goes on in Ukraine.

Sveta and I focused on travel in April. Two weeks on the road took us to Nikolayev to visit Sveta’s family, before continuing to Marganets. While in Marganets, we had meetings with the directors of the Transition Home, the Orphanage, and School #3. Finally, we traveled south to Froonza, Crimea.

At the Transition Home, Tatyana, the director, is finding good Christian families where the children can be fostered in a loving environment. When I suggested that I may be able to help, she quickly expressed that she had many families waiting to foster children. What great news that is!

At the orphanage, we spoke with Elena, the manager, about the status of the orphanage. The last time that we spoke, there was talk about closing the boarding school portion of the orphanage. That has changed and the boarding school will remain open. A rehabilitation facility for children with disabilities is a reality. This will serve only the children of Marganets. Elena is asking if MUCH can sponsor a massage therapist and provide a massage table, beginning in September. I will pass this request to the MUCH Board of Directors before their next meeting.

DSCN4780A We also discussed the importance of the clothing program. I assured her that it will continue.One thing that has not changed in eleven years is the connections that I make with the children. There are always children who express gratitude for the clothing that they receive. It is a joy for me to communicate with them. Their love for Sveta is quite strong also.

Because the heat in Marganets, little as it is, had been shut off and an unexpected cold front came through, classes at School #3 were cancelled during our visit. Sveta and I connected with the director, her manager, and one of the teachers. Our discussion revolved around the results of the MUCH provision of clothing. The children are responding as expected, with blossoming self-images, and new interest in learning. We also talked at great length about local and regional fund raising to remodel the school building, or only a few parts. We left them with some new ideas and hope for possible change.

Let’s see what Sveta has to share about the children after our journey to Marganets and Froonza!

Sveta’s Journey

Our visit to the orphanage in Marganets was great! As always is the case, the children ran to meet us. Each one interrupted the other one, because, of course, what they had to say was most important. It was a little bit difficult to pay attention to everybody at the same time, to listen, and to respond. In such a time, I always think about God. He does not have difficulty giving the love and attention at the same time for everyone.DSCN4871A

When Mark and I spoke with the 8-10 year-old-children, at first it was noisy and chaotic. Mark then went on to tell them stories from the Bible. The children were quiet and listened to him very attentively. Even I was interested to hear the familiar stories. Some of the stories the children already knew, some they heard for the first time. After each story, to test how they understood the narration, Mark began to ask them questions. All the children were giving the correct answers. From this, we saw that all was clear for them. Some children are poorly versed in mathematics and other sciences, but if they know God, they will have a strong foundation for their future. We are in touch with the local church, which also helps these children to learn about God. They are interested in knowing God; their hearts are hungry for His love.

P1010089AA wonderful opportunity opened up for two sisters who are now living at the orphanage/boarding school in Marganets. These girls, ages fourteen and twelve, never went to school. Now they will learn, starting in the first grade.

Through your prayers and financial support, we have the opportunity to visit the children. They are waiting for us and know that MUCH helps them to have nice clothes and shoes, which increases the children’s self-esteem. They are happy and content!

Our visit to Froonza, Crimea, was just as wonderful! It was a joy to hear from a doctor about the great results after a course of massage for the little boy, Alex. He is an orphan and lives in the family of mission manager Anna and her husband, who took custody of him and his younger sister. For the first four years, the boy lived with his mother who was not responsible for her children. Because he and his sister were on their own, they now have a strong delay in basic education and social development, compared to their peers.

During our visit, Anna took Alex for his annual medical checkup. The doctor said that she saw much progress in the development of Alex’s spoken language. Last year, Alex spoke only a few words; everything else that he P1010188Asaid was impossible to understand.The masseur, delivering massage therapy over his entire body, focused on the head, and face, improving articulation. Angelina, the daughter of Anna, (we talked about her in my last letter) is working with his speech, helping him learn to correctly pronounce sounds and words. For Alex, this has opened great opportunities and a wonderful future!

Living my dream,


I made every effort to complete my next video for this newsletter, but traveling made it impossible to finish with good content and quality. I hope that you will look forward, as I do, to next month’s video in the May newsletter. I am collecting good video of the children and focusing on life in Ukraine. Now that I am working on telling the story with video, I am learning even more about Ukraine.

As always, thank you for your prayer and financial support. God is doing great things through the MUCH team for the children of Ukraine.

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

March 2013 Newsletter

Hello family and friends,

March came in like a lion here in Illichevsk. I was wearing my deep winter duck-down coat and favorite furry hat plus layers of shirts and pants to be warm in my outdoor adventures. Indoors, layers of clothes help me stay warm as Siberian Sveta likes to open the windows and let the fresh air in. Spring is just around the corner and Sveta and I have remained very healthy all winter.

Last month, I wrote that a washing machine was provided for the Transition Home in Marganets.

old on the left, new on the right

old on the left, new on the right

Here is the rest of the story. The status of the home had changed. The volume of children passing through had increased from twenty-six to thirty, and the time that the children remained in the home had changed from three to nine months. In November, Anatoliy, our manager in Marganets, told me that their washing machine was no longer working, and the repair part was not available in Ukraine. His request was for a five kilogram and a seven kilogram washing machine for the Transition Home.

newwBy December, not having heard any positive response from me, he called and reduced his request to only the seven kilogram machine. By the time that I had found three sponsors interested in helping, another change in plans occurred.The sponsors gave money enough for both washing machines. In Marganets, there was a man about to travel to Germany to visit relatives. He agreed to buy the repair part for the old washing machine (above left), while he was there. Anatoliy was asking if he could use a portion of the money for one washing machine, a portion for the part from Germany to repair the old washing machine, and a portion to buy a new refrigerator! The part from Germany arrived and was installed, the LG washing machine (above right) and the refrigerator (left) were purchased, and everybody is very happy. Thank you Les, Buddy (UC), and Tom (CBC).

The Transportation Scholarship Program remains near and dear to my heart. While shopping for a frying pan, Sveta and I saw Vika S., our TS program’s first graduate. She is now married and has a baby. She is using her education to build and raise her family, but also she will be ready to work as a teacher in the future. I would like to share with you a brief but profound story of Vika S., from age three. Click here to read the Vika S. story. She told me her story in 2007, when she was 18 years old.

A second girl in our TS program is also named Vika. We wrote about both Vika S and Vika briefly in the January 2012 Newsletter. Vika is currently finishing her second year of medical college. There are more youth in Illichevsk who need help with funding their transportation needs to and from university in Odessa. Ira Kolosova has stepped down as my assistant, but she has agreed to manage the TS program through her church. Our goal has always been to break the cycle of poverty through higher education. With more support, we can send more students to university, college, or trade school. Even though Illichevsk is a port city, the economy does not benefit the majority of the 62,000 population. Even though scholarships are available to some students in need of help, money for transportation is not. We want to bridge the transportation gap and continue to break the cycle of poverty. For a contribution of $60 a month or two contributions of $30 a month, MUCH could offer another transportation scholarship to a bright young student.

I apologize if you had problems viewing my video last month. (If you are having problems viewing the videos, it will help if you close other programs that are using your RAM [Random Access Memory]) This month I want to share a bit about everyday life in Illichevsk. Click here and take three minutes to experience shopping at the morning market.

Sveta’s Journey

P1010192AVitalik is a nine-year old boy. He has a father, and two sisters (right). The children all live at the orphanage in Dobromel. When Vitalik was born, it was a difficult labor. The results were mental retardation and speech deficiency.

When Vitalik (left) was three years old, his mother died. His father worked hard to be a good father, raising the three children. Although Vitalik and his sisters live in the orphanage, their father takes them home to be family often. (It is not so normal for most of the children to be loved in this way.)

It is difficult for Vitalik to concentrate in the classroom. His vocabulary is limited; he pronounces all the sounds and words, but most people don’t fully understand the meaning of what he says.

His posture needed some correction, and after one twenty-day course of massage, he showed good progress. Natasha, our massage therapist, will oversee his further physical development.
Sasha (right) is 14 years old; she studies in the sixth grade at the Dobromel orphanage. She has many brothers and sisters. The children grew up in very difficult conditions; the house was cold, dirty, and there was no food for these starving children. The parents did not care about them. The children often experienced violence from their father. When authorities removed parental rights, they put the children younger than six years in the Baby House, and those that were older in several orphanages. The children had frostbite, lice and scabs; they were hungry and very thin. Some of them could not eat or drink on their own. All this had a negative impact upon the psychological development of the children.

Sasha was initially very aggressive. During the time spent in the orphanage, the support of caretakers and the teaching staff helped Sasha begin to recover. Last year, she received her first twenty-day course of massage and most clearly had noticeable changes in her personality and behavior. Natasha’s massage therapy provided love and active attention toward Sasha. This acted as a springboard to accelerate the recovery process.

Sasha became calmer. She likes to sit in the manager’s office and watch her work. The girl sometimes manifests shyness and stiffness, other times she is impulsive and irritable. Sasha needs additional help with education and health care. At this time, she has received three twenty-day courses of therapeutic massage. The entire teaching staff noticed positive changes in the behavior of this girl. How easy it is to break and injure the psychological development and emotions of a child; how hard to recover and heal the wounded.

IMG_9266ALast year, when Mark and I went to the village of Froonza, to visit our massage therapy program, we met with the director of the kindergarten because she asked for our help. The problem is that the kindergarten does not have a speech therapist. The government authorities do not provide money in the yearly budget for a speech therapist at this kindergarten. In the kindergarten, there are 104 children: in each of the four groups of 26 children, 25% of the children have a problem with the spoken language. The administration of the kindergarten has a great desire to have a speech therapy program for the children.

2Jj8Xz_mVxQAThere is a young woman (above) who lives in Froonza who wants to work with children as a speech therapist. Angelina is already working in this kindergarten as a teacher (right), and in addition she gives private English lessons at home. Angelina is a beautiful young woman, the daughter of the MUCH manager in the village of Froonza. She grew up in a big wonderful Christian family where there is much love. This family has five children and eight foster children. (See Mark’s Fourteen Days with Thirteen Children) Angelina has a teacher’s degree and will begin studying speech therapy at the university in September 2013. Her heart burns for the children and she has already started the independent study portion of the program.

The kindergarten director has asked MUCH for help to sponsor a part-time speech therapist (1000 hryvnia or $125 per month). Of course, the administration of the kindergarten will continue to ask the government for funds in their budget for this program. With the financial sponsorship of MUCH, the kindergarten will be able to express the need and document the results. Their goal is that this proof for the government will drive them to action. MUCH recognizes the importance of speech therapy for these children and will consider this request when funds become available.

Living my dream,

In 2002, I answered my calling to move to Ukraine and help the children. At the time, it was not clear how I would help the children, or how I would finance this new life, but I knew that it was my future, the ministry that I waited a lifetime to enter. Many of you have walked down the path with me these past ten years, whether as spectators, prayer warriors, sponsors, or other team members. It has been an amazing journey, and continues to be. I am grateful to all of you for your part in our ministry to the children. God continues to open the doors and we continue to walk through them. Thank you, and may God bless you abundantly.

Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta