March 20, 2017
The buds on the trees are bulging. Tulips are beginning to poke fresh leaves through rain-drenched soil. The hope of spring is in the air as many people are raking winter debris off flower beds and garden plots. Garden soil is being prepared for planting. Some onions and potatoes are already in. We are sorry that we will miss the amazing display of spring tulips and irises!
Despite these signs of hope we know that the war continues. People express uncertainty about the future, because they know about the tragic losses of life and property that their fellow Ukranians have experienced in the eastern war zone. Will it escalate?
We had the privilege of attending a Sunday service in the Schoensee Church, the church which the Faith and Life choir visited. It was a chilly morning because the heat was turned off to save money, but it was obvious that the people came to worship and pray in reverence. Many times we heard the phrase: "Lord, have mercy."
Another occasion that reminded us of our choir tour in fall was a visit with Tanya and Yarislav of the Zaporozhye Music College. Their warm welcome and their gratitude for the opportunity to join the choir with violin and cello in October, was evidence that this had been a highlight for them as well. They told us of the cutbacks that the government is implementing in the music schools and we all lamented that too often it is the Arts programs that are affected first. Anyone who has attended music concerts in Ukraine can attest to the high quality of instruction and performance that abounds here.
Mennonite Centre functions with a Canadian and a Ukranian board. We met with our board here last Wednesday. Unfortunately, some were unable to attend. The members are pleased to be involved in an organization that seeks to assist their people. We look to them for advice and feedback.
Prometei, the education program that assists children with autism and cerebral palsy, is expanding their influence. Other schools are making inquiries. Some of the students who entered the Prometei program at age 2 or 3 are now being integrated into regular school programs. Observing the interactions of the staff with the students is heartwarming to see, and parents are deeply grateful that their children are able to develop their potential.
A new venture for Mennonite Centre is the gifting of start-up funds for a business project. A refugee family from Crimea is purchasing a village property for honey production and growing roses. This was their livelihood in Crimea until the invasion and they were forced to flee. We are pleased to help them become re-established and provide a living for their family. His hopeful face expresses their gratitude to Canadian donors.
This blog will be the last one of our time in Ukraine. As always, we along with many people in Ukraine remain grateful for the generous donations of our North American supporters. For further information and opportunities to contribute please refer to the Mennonite Centre website: www.mennonitecentre.ca.