We have had another successful trip to Odessa, Ukraine this year. Linda Terry and I were gone from April 11 to April 30, 2008. We left Modesto, CA at 5am and arrived in Odessa, Ukraine on April 12th at 2pm. We were met by several of the UAC staff that we work with and taken to the apartment with our 6 suitcases filled with crafts supplies, gifts for the people there and donated items to pass out, plus a bit of space for our clothes.
The day after we arrived in Odessa we went shopping. This year we were able to help with copy books and pens for a couple of orphanages. We went shopping to buy supplies for some of our crafts projects and also bought some sanitary pads and laundry detergent that is always needed there. The budgets of the many orphanages never seem to be enough so we try to add to the basic hygiene needs. This year we were able to help with copy books, pens for a couple of orphanages, sports equipment for Fontanka( Boy’s Prison), sanitary pads for 4 orphanages, toilet paper for the shelter, took juice and cookies to 5 orphanages, even helped out a couple of scholarship students buy some needed supplies for their classes.
This year we even got to participate in a Russian Orthodox Easter service, which started at 11:30 pm Saturday night and went to about 2 am Easter Sunday morning. The Orthodox Easter was April 27 this year. The service continued until sunrise, but we were able to leave at 2 am thankfully. This was quite an experience and showed us how seriously Ukrainians believe Easter is in their life. The week before we celebrated Willow Sunday, which is similar to Palm Sunday, only Odessa doesn’t have Palm trees so they use willow branches.
This year we wrapped stones with wire to make some pretty necklaces at #4 orphanage and also worked with the children drawing and then eating Hershey Kisses. They enjoyed that class! It was tasty!
At Lastochka we took Polaroid pictures again as well as worked on Dream Catchers with the kids. We also colored some pictures with the kids at Slobodka Mental Hospital and Alexandrovka Orphanage.
I also took many packages of Foam shapes to create fun things with the kids at three orphanages. We painted kids hands with paint and made angel wings at Alexandrovka as well. They honored us by singing us many songs accompanied by one of the staff on piano. We passed out Easter breads to many, many kids.
This year because of the devaluing American dollar and increase in prices of everything from food to gas to hygiene products our dollars did not go as far as they have in past years. We were able to buy a lot of items for the kids with the money that UAC gave us as well as the money I received from donations here in CA. We also bought buckets, stuffed Easter bunnies, candy, toy cars and bubbles to pass around to the many orphans in Odessa. At #5 Orphanage we even had Pastor John O’Dean, from The Vineyard Church in Maryland, help us and give a wonderful Easter prayer on Easter Sunday, April 27. Dr. Vincent Rosini, of Frontier Horizons, was also there with some people from America interested in adopting and/or hosting kids from Odessa.
All in all, it was a good trip again. We achieved a lot, kept very busy, had a lot of fun with the kids, and enjoyed seeing old friends again. The Directors at the many orphanages have gotten to know us so it is always enjoyable to reconnect with them again. We thank UAC for asking us to go to Odessa these last 10 years. They do so much for the many orphanages in Odessa, Ukraine.