"Supporting those in desperate need"

Getinvolvedtitle Liz Clarke in Ukraine

OCU's Liz Clarke in Ukraine

Ocu -liz -1All through the silent night the snow fell soundlessly. In the morning a fresh brightness covered the whole Ukrainian countryside.

As we drove to Pluzhne the blanketed fields, trees and houses were reflecting the bright light from the strong sun in the deep blue sky. The roads were hazardous, the driver skillfully cautious, as we followed the mission truck to our first children's home.

Ocu -liz -2We were well wrapped up this February morning to face the minus five degree temperature outside. Icicles hung from bare trees. A latticework pattern of frozen water droplets appeared like giant icy spiders' webs between the branches.

 It was cold outside! Freezingly cold! But what kind of welcome would she receive from the director, staff and children at Pluzhne?

Ocu -liz -3Three hours later she was amazed at the work of Mission Without Borders, and the management by the home's director, Valentin Klymchuk.

MWB had recently brought Children's Bibles to the home and a Bible for this director. "This was such a good translation that I stayed up until four in the morning reading the Bible!" he said.

It is not possible to give Christian Input to a home until we have gained the confidence of the leaders. This is done by providing for material needs. Today we came to see the children were provided for.

In addition to the beautiful, many coloured blankets, all of the children were given hats, gloves, scarves, winter jackets, and boots. For our photos we dressed up two of the classes and took them outside into the snow. The bright colours contrasted starkly with the pure white snow. The children were delighted and very happy to receive such lovely gifts! The director and his staff were very satisfied to see such high quality clothes for "their" children. As the director, himself was raised by his solo mother, he has compassion for children. He is also grandfather to four small grandchildren of his own family.

Ocu -liz -4Being a lover of animals, Liz was very interested to see the thin horse with his small supply of hay. But she quickly left the pig raising project as she objected to the smell! The piglets though were kept very warm with heaters in their pens. Later in the year the children would enjoy the meat!

Visiting the doctor's room and the dentist's room was very interesting. The sewing class was studying the threads in cotton material as we toured the school while the computer room had no students for that period. This home and school was very well equipped. It is in total contrast to most orphanages in Ukraine today where most have outdoor toilets for example. Altogether it was a very impressive tour and reflected on the success of the director, of 25 years, in the way he was able to extract as many resources as possible from the authorities. Growing and harvesting their own wheat for the bread they baked daily is one example of his initiative.

But the dormitories were very crowded and the beds in need of replacement. Yet we now know that all the children will be warm every night of this long cold winter. Winter is the favourite time of year for children there love to play in the snow - if they are warm!

Gifts were presented to the visitors made by the children of the Pluzhne home. These were a symbol of their great appreciation to Liz Clarke, organiser of OCU, and to all the wonderful faithful knitters. Every family we visited profusely thanked the knitters and the mission for the support given during this cold winter. 

The MWB Ukraine staff welcomed the New Zealanders warmly during the brief week's stay. Our appreciation for the great work these dedicated people do was also an encouragement. Typical of their dedication was Oxana, a young widow and mother of two who was enthusiastically teaching a Sunday School class at the mission centre. She, with her husband, were missionaries to Russia. They suffered persecution there! On a return trip to Ukraine, to renew their visas, he was killed in a car accident. She continues to work for God despite this great grief and sorrow. We thank God for such dedication and love to Him.

Sports equipment was given out at the Chudel home where there is no indoor sports area. The sounds of joy and happiness from these deprived children in was very gratifying. The smiles and excitement as children attempted to ski for the first time was unforgetable for Liz. She couldn't catch the boy who tricked her by throwing a ball plastered with snow to her. Such innocent fun was something rare for these children.