Ukraine July 2017
Ukraine July 2017 was the most extraordinary whirlwind of joy, love and abundance for all. Charles Kropke, Board of directors member for Universal Aid for Children Ukraine and myself, a medical liaison for UAC since 1995, also a board member left Miami on Friday July 7th 2017. It was a long journey ahead.
We had the most amazing greeting by UAC staff when we arrived in Odessa on July 8th. Colleagues, friends and children participating in our scholarship program were all there to assist us. There was a grand band playing traditional Ukrainian music and we were presented with special beautiful artistic bread that was prepared as a tradition to welcome us.
Our Director of UAC Irina Tishchendo and her son Alexey had a very productive schedule planned for the week. Alla Belaya, scholarship program coordinator and one of our first scholarship students orchestrated all the events with other UAC staff members assisting in any way they could to get us settled in. We enjoyed a lovely horse and carriage ride tour after checking in to the Amsterdam Hotel in Odessa’s Center and had dinner at one of my favorite famous Ukrainian restaurants.
Our UAC Ukraine founder, Clara Pascal arrived from France on Sunday July 9th for our annual Robin’s Nest Camp. This year it was held at one of Odessa’s beautiful state parks. We met a group who helps displaced people and refugees in Odessa. Over a hundred orphans, family’s and refugees attended this grand event. It was a great feast with music, entertainment and games for the children. Super Hero’s including Spider man and Snow White entertained us all throughout the evening. BOD members and UAC staff prepared all day for the event. Robins Nest 2017 was another great heart warming success bringing much joy to our children, friends and families of Odessa.
On Monday July 10th we were counting down the final preparations for the UAC annual Scholarship/Graduation Party to be held on Tuesday evening July 11th. We paid a visit to the new UAC office that day to organize and retrieve all the medical equipment, supplies and vitamins that had been shipped for our doctors that care for our orphans of Ukraine. Our amazing UAC staff prepared awards, certificates and gifts for all UAC students and graduates. Charles and I prepared toiletry bags prior to our departure for eight of the grads with all self-care and hygiene products. Two are his new sons and one mine. They loved learning about each product and its use.
On the evening of the graduation party we were greeted by hundreds of beautiful people. Including our UAC staff, students and many of the graduates since the very beginning of the scholarship program in 1998. Clara and I were given a single red rose by every other child as we descended down the stairs lined with all our children on either side of the stairway leading to the beach. Many success stories were witnessed this night of the many children who were once orphaned and now have their own family units.
Wednesday July12th we paid a visit to orphanage #1 for abandoned babies. We met with the administration and had a visit with the children while they played. The conditions at this orphanage were quite nice compared to what we use to see. There were so many beautiful babies and toddlers.
Thursday July 13th we set out to visit refugee families in the social center. The conditions there were very grim. There were several disabled children that would benefit greatly with occupational and physical therapy. Later that evening the group went to the military hospital. I did not attend this visit.
Friday July14 was our staff banquet and lunch with our Ukrainian children. It was a most memorable day. I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time with my girls and their children. They seem to be very happy in their lives. They are married to wonderful men and have good jobs. They are very grateful to UAC for helping them. Evgeny Shapocnikov, my newly sponsored son also joined us for lunch. He is interested in dentistry and will be starting at the university in September. He is interested in a possible internship with our colleagues at the dental institute. He loves working with children and will help teach them dental hygiene.
We met with our Ukrainian colleagues Dr. Gennady of the Stomatoligii Institute and Anatoliy Gulyak, MD, now in private practice, prior to the banquet. Our team gladly presented the medical equipment and supplies requested by Dr. Gennady. This equipment is desperately needed for the safety and treatment of children during emergency situations and surgical procedures. Two Pulse Oximiters with accessories/probes for children age 0-18 and a Gomco Suction unit with accessories were donated in addition to high quality vitamin D3 and probiotic supplements for the children in need. Our doctors are very happy to help Evgeny with an internship at the dental clinic. We also spoke about creating a wellness program for the children to help teach them healthy life styles.
Saturday July 15 our UAC Ukrainian team transported us to the airport and bid us farewell for our return home.