HOPE Worldwide Kiev Activities
In Kiev orphanages are called Internats. They are not merely orphanages but schools for orphans, sick, and physically and mentally handicapped children.
Orphan English Program
This year English lessons have continued at the School for the Blind in Kiev, Internat #5.
◦ Thanks to the donations of generous disciples from the North River Church, I was able to purchase a special auditory English program that will teach the children how to speak English through CD lessons in both Russian and English.
◦ The Staff of the Internat was very grateful for the auditory program. They told us that many of the children have a very difficult time studying English from their brail books, and it is difficult to motivate them to learn. Now, with the auditory disks they are able to learn much more easily and have more fun!
◦ Our lessons expanded this year as another American English teacher has joined our ranks in Kiev. Bekah Weidner, whose mother recently visited the North River church and spoke about her new book for women, has begun teaching younger children from the 4th and 5th grades in the blind Internat.
This year I also helped take over the HOPE tennis program in Internat #3.
◦ Every weekend we visit the Internat and teach the children how to play tennis, and help them just have fun.
◦ Thanks to donations to HOPE worldwide Kiev, we were able to purchase brand new racquets and tennis balls for the children to use.
◦ The class gets bigger and bigger every week as more and more children hear about how much fun it is to play tennis!
I have also been able to participate in a great HOPE program carried out in five of the Internats in Kiev in which volunteers visit once a month to celebrate the orphans??? birthdays with them.
◦ Each month volunteers come with presents for the children who have birthdays in that particular month. With 200-300 children in many Internats, there are a lot of birthdays to be celebrated each month, and we want to make sure that every child feels special.
◦ We had a big party, put on a show, sang songs, gave out presents, ate cake, and danced the night away with the orphans.
◦ On special holidays like Christmas and New Years, we put on special holiday programs in which Santa Clause paid a visit to the Internats and sang and danced with the children.
◦ I participated in the 2006 holiday program by singing one of the children???s favorite American songs, Last Christmas. (that???s me in the suit)
The lack of donor blood for children sick with hemophilia, leukemia and other grave diseases is another acute problem for Ukraine. According to the Kyiv Municipal Blood Center the need for donors exceeds the supply by five times. This lack of donor blood threatens the lives of children and adults every day. To combat this problem HOPE worldwide Kiev has developed the largest volunteer blood donation program in Kiev.
◦ I was able to participate in our Annual Blood Drive which was held in October and I was even allowed to donate blood for the children.
◦ At the blood drive we collected hundreds of donations from our brothers and sisters in the Kiev church. It was the largest single donation for the entire city in 2006!
Our future plans include a blood bus that will travel around getting donations from various companies and individual donors, and a blood donation database that could double or triple the number of blood donations each year. I am currently helping the HOPE staff develop and write proposals for these new ideas in English so that we can raise money for them from European and American sources.
Fund Raising and Translations
Of course running a charity program means always being in need of new sources of funding and new ways to get your ideas out to the public. That???s why I have been grateful to be able to help HOPE in Kiev and in Moscow with their English business proposals and website updates.
◦ Throughout the year I have been working on various proposals for HOPE worldwide in Kiev and in Moscow, which need to be written in English in order to be sent to churches and funding sources in Europe and America. These have included proposals for the Orphan Development Programs, Blood Donation Program, and the Birthday Program.
◦ In addition, I have also been able to help write and edit the yearly and monthly reports for HOPE worldwide in Kiev and Moscow. This includes the monthly website updates and news flashes for HOPE worldwide Russia???s website.
As of now HOPE Kiev does not have a website, but we are hoping to have one up and running in the near future.
HOPE For Children Adoption Agency
I am happy to announce that HOPE for Children has officially been registered in Ukraine for adoptions this year!
◦ This is a great first step towards our goals of helping Ukrainian orphans find loving Christian families to adopt them, and of educating the churches in Ukraine on local adoptions.
◦ At one point Ukraine was #4 on the list of countries with the most international adoptions, but it had recently halted all international adoptions in order to rewrite its adoption laws and no international adoptions were allowed. Now, however, we can finally start adopting in Ukraine again and give HOPE to these hurting children.
◦ I am grateful to have been able to work with Dave Malutinok and help facilitate the registration process, and we are now in the process of making contacts in the government ministries here who will be able to help us further develop our adoption programs.
In addition to teaching orphans English, I have also had the pleasure of helping the Kiev church staff learn English.
◦ To strengthen the Kiev church???s ties to our American brothers and sisters, several of the Region and Sector Leaders in the Kiev church have visited American churches in the last year. These brothers returned to Kiev with the realization that they need to study English more so that they can communicate better with our American brothers and sisters.
◦ They are making great progress, and even some of the leaders who were not planning on visiting the US have started studying English so that they can communicate with the various international guests that visit the Kiev church each year.
◦ For one couple, Oleg and Alina, English lessons took on a whole new meaning, as Oleg was appointed to move from Kiev to Croatia to help lead the struggling church there. Oleg and his wife speak Russian and Ukrainian, but the church services in Croatia are held in English. The only way for himself and his wife to communicate with their new Croatian brothers and sisters will be in English, so our English lessons have become doubly important and I was able to personally tutor Oleg and his wife to prepare them for their trip.
◦ We now have plans to expand these lessons to teach the entire Kiev church staff by starting extra classes with our new American teachers in Kiev: John Malutinok and Bekah Weidener.
One of our most exciting new program ideas for 2007 is with the elderly in our church. We think that HOPE should not only focus on those outside the church who need help, but on those inside as well.
◦ In poor countries like Ukraine, the elderly are often left alone with almost no assistance. Often their own families abandon them and they are forced to live on tiny government pensions of less than $100 per month, and many sell food grown in their gardens on the side of the street in order to be able to make enough money to survive.
◦ In the Kiev church there are many needy elderly and we have decided to focus our energy on helping them in any way possible. We are currently collecting data from our church staff to figure out where the greatest needs are. Our goal is to find the most needy elderly in the Kiev church and help them in their daily lives.
◦ Ideas include helping them with Spring cleaning, regular visits for fellowship and encouragement, medical aid, and even apartment fixing and remodeling.
HOPE Volunteer Corps
We are going to host our first Volunteer Corps here in Kiev this June. Volunteers from all over Europe will get to visit the orphanages, play with the children, participate in HOPE programs, and possibly even help rebuild or remodel an orphanage or elderly persons??? home.
◦ I am helping to organize the Volunteer Corps and I recently created a brochure that is being sent to the European churches about the event.
◦ I will be the host for the Volunteer Corps when it comes to Kiev this summer, showing the volunteers around the city, bringing them to the orphanages, and hopefully teaching them a little Russian as well.
Impoverished Orphanage Visits
One of my goals this year has been to find a very poor orphanage that I can visit regularly and that I can build a strong relationship with, similar to the orphanage that I used to visit in Mexico. Unfortunately, the Internats near Kiev have much more money than the Internats outside of Kiev.
◦ To find a very poor Internat, I had to travel by bus 4 hours outside of Kiev to a small city called Romni.
◦ The orphanage in Romni is much poorer than those in Kiev. There were pigs and other wild animals there, and the conditions were not nearly as healthy as most Kiev Internats.
◦ The children, however, were a joy to be around and they were very happy to spend time with us, even though some of us only knew a little Russian.
I plan on visiting the Romni orphanage regularly now and I hope to find ways to improve the orphanage and meet needs for the children there. I am very excited to be able to help them in this way.
Thank you to all who have donated to the orphans and to my work with the orphans, and for all who are praying for our work here and for the Kiev Church.
God hears your prayers and continues to do great things.
With prayers and gratefulness,