We returned from our long journey to Ukraine very early (3 a.m) Wednesday, July 4th. The trip was wonderful, and I will give you just the highlights, as not to bore you, but do inform you of the great things that the Lord is doing in Ukraine, and how your help is so critical to the continued work in Ukraine.
We departed, June 10th, without problems, and arrived to our beloved host city on June 14th. It was wonderful to see our dear friends again, and they had arranged for us to stay in a ‘flat.’ Unfortunately, it was quite small, 1 tiny bedroom, and the living room, and tiny kitchen, and bath. We ‘farmed’ out 2 of the kids to 2 different church families, to ease the space strain of the small quarters. We had water from 6 – 9 a.m., and in the evening from 6-9p.m. Never did we have hot water. But I was able to boil huge pots of water for bathing. The weather was rainy, muddy, and cool (not cold), but many days were quite nice. Sun rose at 4:30 a.m., so each morning I was up at 6 doing hand laundry, sunset was around 9:30 p.m., thus making for very long days. Each day, we went somewhere combining the work of the church with the work of His Kids, Too! Things went quite well, and humanitarian aide was well received. The U.S. dollar remains fairly good, so funds ‘went along’ way and we were able to help many in need.
Our first visit was to the orphanage, where the director was pleased to see us. We assessed the children’s needs after the tea and ‘lunch,’ and we were off the Boarding School, where the director there was also very pleased to see us. There were 55 of the 450 children there as many had left for the summer. These 55 are true orphans, as the others come from extremely impoverished homes where the parents take them to the boarding school to be fed and taught, as they are unable to provide these basic needs. We performed a needs assessment there and ensured that the goods previously donated to this facility were being utilized to their maximum intention. After an extensive, productive meeting with the director we came away with the future needs, and had a wonderful time of sharing with the director and our family. Please keep in mind, we walked to all of these places, after arriving at the orphanage via trolley bus.
Keeping in mind that the goal of His Kids, Too! is helping orphans and widows, we have continued to find that the mentally ill are also in dire need of assistance. These often forgotten people in society are in desperate need of the basics, and we were able to provide much needed bedding and clothing. This aide has been a cooperative effort in conjunction with the local Church of Christ. The director of the mental hospital was happy to see us and graciously invited us for a short meeting in which the director stated that they were in desperate need of linens for the patients. We were able to immediately meet that need, as His Kids, Too! had previously purchased a large quantity of linens in a neighboring city. Thus, meeting the need and stimulating the depressed Ukrainian economy.
The next day, we caravaned off to another city about 1 hr. away, where we stopped at the orphanage, as it is right on the way into town, and the orthopedic children’s hospital. We visited with the children at the orphanage for well over 1 hour and didn’t have to perform a need assessment as we already had lists of needs for the facilities from our board member who lives in this city. This board members continuous contact with the director of the orphanage enables us to meet the children’s needs on a more immediate basis as most items necessary are available in this city. The needs request from the director included strollers, playpens, and other larger items. Then we were off to the Central Market to make many purchases. Personally, I’m not a big shopper, but you can get so much for so very little $, it is quite interesting. We loaded down the cars with so many items it was difficult for us to sit, but were able to get most of the list items along with the items for the needs in our host city orphanage, boarding school, and mental hospital. Additionally, all the boxes, that I had sent ahead full of humanitarian aide, awaited us at our board members flat, which we loaded and took with us back to our host city for distribution.
This is the lists of needs we were able to meet with your help:
Medicine for the orphanage for the entire summer camp (48 children)
3 huge bags of legos
2 soccer balls
10 jump ropes
several boxes of board games
several boxes of sidewalk chalk
several reams of paper
sheets for 30 beds, along with pillowcases
shoes for 48 children
clothing for 48 children
1 baby swing
socks for 48 children
underwear for 48 children
a set of new clothing for 60 mental patients
hats for 100 children
clothing for several children at the VBS
clothing, soap, and shampoo for the church members
food for 15 widows (see below)
food for many street people
I realize that the items on the above list may appear to be trivial items, i.e., sidewalk chalk, board games, etc., but if the orphanage has food provided for them, the children still have many needs left unmet. The chalk, for example, is to help with motor skills for disabled children in the hospital, and board games for the older kids in the orphanage, etc. who have NOTHING to do…….thus they get into trouble. They were really excited when they saw the games, and on another visit, they were playing them. Jump ropes may seem trivial, but when all you can do is sit all day, a jump rope is a wonderful gift.
We also left funds with our board member to continue the juice and diaper program ongoing at the orphanage. In addition to providing funds to purchase much needed cooking pots for the deaf school, 2 computers for 2 different facilities for record keeping compliance, and funds for items needed for the elderly folks home in Donetsk we left exhausted but assured we were truly making an impact on the orphans quality of life.
Departing this city, we then dropped off the items to the orphanage and children’s hospital, where they were happy and surprised we were able to work so quickly to meet their needs.
Once back in our host city we were ready with items to be delivered to several different facilities. The next day we delivered those items, and they were well received. We were also able to provide food to 15 widows at a mere cost of $1.87 per person for 1 week! Yes, that is correct, with your help we provided food for 15 widows for 1 week for less than $30.00! Each donated canvas bag consisted of: bread, salt, flour, sugar, rice, macaroni, cheese, eggs, soap, shampoo, and hand lotion. In addition, we consistently saw children, adults and the disabled in need along the streets, subways and alley’s, and we would carry with us some sort of food (bananas, juice, cheese, bread, etc.), and distributed it as needed.
Nightly we had Bible study, and Rich would teach the men, I the ladies. The church had started lessons on the gifts of the spirit, 1 Corinthians 12, so in keeping with this theme, we covered many of the gifts. The studies were well attended, and it was a great time of fellowship.
Once the rest of the team (there were 22 total on the team) arrived, we went into full swing for the VBS. It was a great outreach to the community and God moved in the hearts of many.
We departed Ukraine on June 30 and were off to Warsaw, Poland. At many stops along the way, we saw hungry children begging for money. We never give out money, but always food or clothing. We gave food, though we had little to spare; as one must bring their own food on the trains, space is extremely small (5′ x 6′ for 4 people + luggage), so the little food you take, is usually just enough for the travelers (which there were 6 of us), but we would give out bread and cheese and some of our fruit. They eagerly excepted it. When we did get to Warsaw, though we did not experience children begging, but disabled adults needing assistance. With your help, we were able to give several of them food bags, which they were very appreciative.
Overall our time in Ukraine was a rich blessing. The Lord did great things, and many, many seeds were planted. We continue to pray that the church in Dzerzhinsk will do the follow up on this planting, and ‘water’ the seeds. Of course, we extend our great thanks for your financial support of His Kids, Too! and for your prayerful support of the work in Ukraine. Only with your continued prayers, help and support can we be the ‘feet’ that delivers the aide to these wonderful, loving, but terribly deprived children, teens and adults. Thank you for the opportunity, we pray that we are Godly stewards of the funds you have entrust to us, and that God smiles on the work that is going on in Ukraine.
Teresa Fillmon and family