Back in 1999, a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in going
to Ukraine as I had mentioned a desire to teach spinning to children overseas.
I said "yes" and the rest is history.
In May 2003, I went on my 5th great trip to Odessa, Ukraine. I go to the Ukraine through the Universal Aid for Children, UAC, who have
a website where you can learn more about them: www.uacadoption.org.
This year, I went with my friend, Linda Terry, again. She is a talented artist and jewelry designer. We had collected lots of beads for the children to create their own jewelry with. We also worked with the children stitching together puppets and painting on canvas and denim coin purses and small bags with fabric paint. We have most of our crafts classes with the children in Orphanage #4. This time, though, we had a puppet making class at one of the mental institutes (Alexandrovka), and a fabric painting class at Shelter #2. The shelters are where many children are taken right from the streets. Unfortunately, there are too many children in too small of a place with not enough money and supplies to meet their basic needs.
Orphanage #4 needed help with 6 of their sewing machines. The motors needed repair, so we gave money to the sewing teacher to call a repairman to fix the sewing machines. The children also use old singer treadle machines. It was great to see the girls learning how to sew. The kitchen that the teachers used to teach cooking though is in need of repair-the electrical wiring is horrible. In Ukraine, girls need to know how to cook and sew to help with their families when they marry. Now they make clothing for themselves and many items for the orphanage, like tablecloths for the cafeteria. Not many boys care to join the classes. They are more interested in their welding/shop classes. Without parents to teach these children, many teachers try to fill the void.
Linda and I gave out some of the blankets the ladies from Sonora, CA. (The Sonora Stitchers) had made. They will help the children stay warm in the drafty rooms especially if they have another bad winter this year like they did last year, many places had no heat at all. The ladies also made hats, scarves, sweaters, etc and as it was too warm in May to pass any of these out, the staff I work with in Odessa will pass them all out in the fall.
We saw the need for summer shoes and sandals; many kids had shoes with holes or winter shoes- too hot for summer. With donated money, we were able to buy many children new summer sandals or shoes. They were so happy and, of course, more kept coming up to us to tell us they needed a pair! There were still too many children who did not get shoes. $3000.00 had been donated, also, for mattresses. What a treat for the 300 children in #4 that would get new mattresses to sleep on. Now all they need are warmer blankets for the winter. The ones they have are so very thin!
Clara Pascal from UAC was there for the first week we were there. What a whirlwind she is! I got a great picture of her and all the graduating class from #4. She spent time alone with each young person from the graduating class while she was there. They are a great group of kids. The UAC has made such a difference in their lives. Many come back and work in the orphanages after finishing University or a trade school. I see more and more improvements each time I go, unfortunately, for each improvement there are many more problems. They are in need of money all of the time. Since the end of Communism, the country is not able to help the children in the orphanages and so many more children fill them up.
We saw many places that need repair work, including many bedrooms and bathrooms in #4. I was able to get some new linoleum for one of the orphanages, but so many more places need their floors replaced as well as many other items (like blankets, mattresses, cupboards for clothing etc.). For so many children there never seems to be enough money to go around. Clothes and shoes are always needed, and money for vegetables, fruits, and some meats for the children. There are some good places to buy clothing, like the flea markets where I picked up shoes. With the cost of postage it may be better to let the staff who work for UAC buy items needed with your donated money. When I am able to take money with me that has been donated, it is so wonderful to be able to get the children what they need. Working closely with the staff, who keep on top of what is needed at all of the orphanages, it always gives one a warm feeling to be able to help.
While Clara was there, we bought some sports equipment for a few of the orphanages. The kids have little of their own, as many are picked up off the streets and taken to shelters or other places to be evaluated and then placed in orphanages. We delivered some balls to Alexandrovka and had a great time playing catch with some of the children there. Clara has built a tight group of wonderful people who care very deeply for the abandoned children of Odessa. Working with the driver, Igor, and the other staff members who also interpret, Irina and Luda, we were able to go to many of the orphanages. Igor's wife, Lena, and Luda's husband, Victor, and brother, Vova, also work for UAC. We always feel very welcomed and safe there. There is still so much to do. If anyone wishes to help, please contact UAC
at www.uacadoption.org or
contact me by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you. It was a great trip and I look forward to going again. Wish I could go several times a year. By what is accomplished, it is evident more trips are needed- with your help and support. We'll continue to work on helping the children. They truly appreciate the American help they receive. Thank you.
Read about my previous trips to the Ukraine and learn more
about how to help: 2002
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