Ukrainian tax dollars will go to cover the travel expenses of "friends of the government" who visit Europe,
I imagine few of those footing the bill consider there is much likelihood of many such “ambassadors” actually coming face-to-face with a "diasporan" in such places as
Meanwhile on the ground in
So incompetent and indifferent are these stewards of the public purse that impoverished Ukrainians have to rely on foreign charities for a leg up and a shot at a decent standard of living.
My host organization for this trip, HART (Humanitarian Aid Response Team out of
I arrived in Lviv on July 18 and have already had several jaw-dropping experiences ... both good and bad, happy and sad. My host, Lloyd Cenaiko, the founder of HART keeps assuring me that I will have very many more during the rest of our time together here.
HART raises funds in western
HART supports local organizations (primarily evangelical churches) that set up soup kitchens for street children, summer camps for orphans, and programs for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, hardened criminals, the handicapped, trafficked women, orphans, and other disadvantaged Ukrainians.
Particularly astonishing is a hugely successful prison ministry run by evangelicals. As a result of their efforts, hundreds of hardened criminals are now leading normal, productive lives and contributing to the communities in which they live.
|Fimiam Church in Lutsk, Ukraine|
They also built a playground and soccer field which is available to the greater community of some 20,000 people. It is the only recreational area for kids in the area. As in most Ukrainian cities, such civic services as parks are low on the priority list of city officials.
Sadly, those willing to do the work encounter roadblock after roadblock set up by officials and the elites who influence them.
|Inside of activity tent|
After visiting Fimiam Church in Lutsk we dropped off Canadian volunteers from Three Hills, AB at a summer Bible camp a couple of hours past Lutsk.
|Hot water shower!|
The outhouse was a hole in the floor, but they rigged up a hot water shower ... there in the middle of nowhere! We thought they were kidding when they told us about it in Lutsk. Sometime's it's hard to tell when Ukrainians are joking and when they are serious. LOL
Yet, interestingly, there were lovely flower gardens in just about every yard (planted of course by the women). And vegetable gardens, and lots of geese. A reflection, perhaps, of the enduring beauty of the Ukrainian soul struggling to survive against all odds.
Today (Sunday) I was at an evangelical church that had been a TV factory in the soviet era. Ironically, it was a originally a church that the soviets trashed and converted to a factory that ran 24/7. Miraculously, some lovely arched windows and a bit of stained glass survived the pillage.
There is much renovation left to do and the congregation has a huge vision for social outreach. Another irony – most of the money comes from a
There is a gargantuan amount of work to be done "in the trenches" to raise the standard of living in
It is ironic, and sad, how much of it is being taken up by non-Ukrainians and people of Ukrainian descent (like the founder of HART) outside the established Ukrainian community. The saddest part is how many people in the diaspora wrap themselves in the Ukrainian flag and then go hobnobbing with the very political elites whose corruption they publicly decry.
This trip, my third to
HART invited me to
The cost to sponsor a child in
I am asking Nash Holos listeners and other readers of this blog to consider sponsoring a Ukrainian child through HART.
For less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day, a Canadian or American can almost double the household income of an impoverished Ukrainian family, and give a Ukrainian child not only the gift of practical necessities, but also of hope for the future.
As Lloyd Cenaiko, the founder of HART, often points out, it is only by accident of birth that Canadians of Ukrainian descent are not experiencing the hardships and hopelessness that so many native Ukrainians do.
Please join me in sponsoring a Ukrainian child, if for no other reason than to express gratitude for the good fortune to be born in a land of opportunity – and for having the opportunity to “give back” to our ancestral homeland.
It's the least those of us in the diaspora can do.
Plus, you can be assured that every cent of your donation will end up in the hands of those for whom it is intended ... and not the ruling elite and their friends.
You can find a link to HART’s child sponsor program at the Nash Holos website.
More later ...
Next stop: somewhere in the Carpathian mountains.