Monday, October 31, 2016

What has Ukraine got going for it?

Here in Canada we all hear the endless litany of problems in Ukraine. Instability, corruption, unemployment etc are accompanied with sighs and headshaking. However, I have had the good fortune of getting into Ukraine annually for many years and always going back to the same villages and cities. This allows me the opportunity to see change, whether good or bad. And for 2016 I see slow but steady improvements.  The pictures show a few examples such as clergy coming together at the Mennonite Centre to share their experiences. In times past villages could be identified as being Baptist, or Ukrainian Orthodox, or Mennonite, or Ukrainian Greek Catholic or Pentecostal etc.  Now you can see more than one church and even signs of working and celebrating events together.

 It's not only the clergy who come together; it is also the babushkas who share a morning together at the Mennonite Centre on a quilting project. They are an example of the increased level of volunteerism in this society. The increasing number of NGOs, Non Governmental Organizations, which are emerging in towns and cities often are started and staffed by volunteers. Organizations to prevent cruelty to animals, to help people in hospital care, who organize sports and cultural activities are critical in developing an emerging civil society.


One such organization was started by Angelika who started working with children with developmental disabilities.  She started a project Prometei, a  group mostly made up of volunteers who would care primarily for autistic children in a very small apartment. Soon the increasing demand required two apartments and staff started to get some financial support from parents. Mennonite organizations such as the Mennonite Family Centre and the Mennonite Centre Ukraine came through with support money. Then a very generous priest who had been given significant property to be used for community benefit selected Prometei as the beneficiaries of his generosity.  Soon the children were placed in a large comfortable space with kitchen and outdoor space. Then the local school received permission to incorporate older children into their school program. Here is the School principal working together with Angelika the Director of Prometei. Now over 60 children are either in the community or school program. Amazing care and progress is being made with these children.




What Ukraine has going for it are clergy who are letting go of turf and seeing the bigger picture, seniors who come together to help, and activists who want to help the vulnerable. This country has a great future. We are privileged to be part of it.

By the way, we plan to have a celebration of our 15th anniversary of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine. The event will be in Abbotsford on Thursday, November 24 at 7:00 PM. in the Mennonite Historical Musuem, 1818 Clearbrook Road. This will be a Music and Dessert fundraising evening.

To contribute to the work of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine, you can make your donation to "Friends of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine". All cheques should be mailed to George Dyck, Treasurer, 3675 North Service road, Beamsville, ON, L0R 1B1.

If you wish to donate online, go to the website www.canadahelps.org, key in "Mennonite Centre Ukraine", and click on the search button. Then click on "V" for View and "P" for Profile. Then "Donate Now".

We thank you,
Ben and Lil Stobbe

 

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