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Kim with some of the older students at River of Life School where we taught conversational English in October of 2016.
Our mission trip this year to Kyiv, Ukraine was successful! Below, I've detailed some of the work we were able to accomplish while we were there. I am in the process of posting galleries of all of our work, which can be accessed from our toolbar menu above under "Projects". Please be patient as I upload and organize the 500+ pictures I took of each group of photos. I have also created a page on our site that sheds light on the current conditions and circumstances in Kyiv, as well as a page that has information about Ukraine's people and culture.
Right now, there are over 2 million refugees in Kyiv comprised of people who had to flee their homes and leave everything behind when the Crimean Peninsula was invaded and taken over by the Russian government and those who've had to evacuate from the eastern parts of Ukraine to escape the fighting that continues after 2 years. Refugee families are no longer living in temporary housing in Maidan, but are now integrated among the many other citizens of Kyiv and they now rely on the generosity of charities and their fellow Ukrainians just to survive from day to day. They need even the most basic necessities like soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. This year, with the assistance of Natalia Krizhanovski with Christians for Israel, we were able to contribute to this effort by visiting 6 of the Jewish families, providing all of them with some of these basic necessities and 3 of them with additional items they said they needed, like coats, warm clothing, blankets, socks, etc.
The Military Hospital:
We were also able to visit some of the soldiers in the hospital who are there as a result of the conflict and to give them bags with items like razors, shaving cream, antibacterial wipes, juice, nuts, fruit, candy, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. During our visits with them, we learned their stories and let them know they were not forgotten. Much like our soldiers in America, they have had to suffer long hospital stays, multiple operations, and the strain on their spirits from their experiences. Unlike our soldiers, they have had to fight on their homeland to retain their freedom from tyranny, oftentimes without the essential medical kits they've needed to save the lives of their brothers in arms, and without the equipment they've needed to fight with, including bullets! Most of the ones we met were volunteers from the East and several of them plan to return to the fighting as soon as they are able, even though they have already suffered amputations (they are allowed to return to combat with missing limbs in Ukraine).
As a part of our work, we taught conversational English at River of Life School and worked with the students doing English language activities. We were also able to provide English books, English teaching materials, and some much needed food supplies to a private christian school in Kyiv that allows children of refugee families, as well as orphans, to attend tuition free if they are not able to pay to attend. In addition to a rigorous and varied curriculum that approaches subjects such as science, literature, economics, marketing, etc. from the viewpoint of living a Christian life in a natural world, they also provide hot meals 4 times a day for their students, which is very important to the orphans or children of refugee families who attend and who may not be able to eat any other time.
Impoverished Children in the Kyiv area:
While I was there, we were able to bless about 60 of the many underprivileged children in the area where we served with gift bags to remind them how very precious each one of them is. These children attended a puppet show given by an area youth ministry and after it was over, we gave each child a bag with pencils, crayons, watercolor paints and paper, erasers, pencil sharpeners, chocolate, etc.
ESL Library Plant Initiative:
I was also able to take 2 suitcases filled with English books as a part of our Library Planting Initiative and distribute them to 2 different schools, the church we served with, the children of the refugee families, and various individuals. English language books are difficult to find and extremely expensive so this was a big part of our mission this year.
I hope you will take the time to look at these galleries and see what we've done this year in Kiev. It's amazing what big things God can do with very limited resources!