COLUMBUS–This was one of the best trips to Ukraine ever! We traveled in a group of eight: seven women and my husband George. Since he grew up with sisters, he handled it quite well and was helpful to all of us at one time or another.
Marty and Sherry stayed at the Good Samaritan Children’s Home in Dobron and they will report on their trip separately. Charlotte, Charlene, Kara, Shirley, George and I spent the first week in Mukachevo. We taught English to children at School #4 and also at St. Stephen’s Lyceum. We had open classes in the afternoons and had kids of all ages who wanted to improve their English. We mainly had fun teaching them American games as they practiced their English. Bingo and Uno were the biggest hits, but we had other activities as well. If you go to Mukachevo, it would be fun to do the “OH — IO” cheer, as a lot of children there know how to respond!
In addition to working with the children, we met with Bishop Majnek to discuss the needs of the area. We also met with Marta Popovich, who heads a program that offers counseling to women considering abortion and also women who have had an abortion and are struggling.
We spent the second week in Ra’t at St. Michael’s Children’s Home (check out their website http://stmkids.hhrf.org/) It was an awesome experience. The kids there are just learning English so, luckily, we had two great translators named Veronica and Rosa. We played a lot of games with these children as well as many other activities. The girls made necklaces with some beads brought by Shirley, and then the boys wanted in on that, so luckily her friends had supplied her with some sports ball beads. Kara, our youngest group member (and a great hit with the kids) brought balloons that could be shaped into animals and supervised the Great Sack Race competition! Charlene, our speech therapist, spent time using flash cards with English words. Charlotte, always a favorite with the kids as well, brought the sacks for the race and some musical equipment for the home. George was the sports expert and played soccer, football and basketball with the kids. One of our most fun activities was teaching them to roast marshmallows. It was their first and now we will have to mail them some as well as take more of them, as it was a great success. Our hosts and the children were great at both places, welcomed us warmly, and the food was awesome as always!
The most marvelous thing that happened was that we raised $14, 465 toward the purchase of a used minivan which they were able to buy while we were there! They put some money together with ours and got a great van for $18, 500. George also met with a Rotary Club from Lviv and the Upper Sandusky Rotary Club is going to work with them on a grant to get a van for the second house. We are all going to start working on getting one for the third house! These are greatly needed so that they have reliable transportation for the children’s medical appointments, music, Scout events, lessons and other activities as well as the ability to take family trips.
If anyone has any good fundraising ideas, wishes to make a donation toward the van or is interested in going on a trip to Ukraine, please contact me, Lana Sakash at (419) 927-2836 for more information. We are planning a trip for June 2012.