Sunday, August 26, 2012

Blog 6, 2012

Doing community service

Last year Ben found out that the neighbouring city of Tokmak had a probation office. Quickly, friendships were established and Ben met with other probation officers in the area.

Since they had no community service programs, Ben gave them some suggestions as to how to get one started. Discovering that they had only one old computer he arranged for the Mennonite Centre to give them a new computer. Armed with few resources but lots of enthusiasm, the probation officers quickly developed a community service program and had many files digitized.
Community service projects included having young adult offenders clean up monuments, do landscaping on the hospital grounds, help doing clean-up work at the Orthodox Church, and even got involved in the renovation of the case room of the maternity ward in the Tokmak hospital. While the idea was conceived at the Mennonite Centre, one could suggest that, after several months of labour, a new community corrections program was birthed in this room.

In acknowledgement for his creative work, Yuri, the supervisor of the office, was awarded the national "Probation Officer of the Year."
This week Ben held another seminar where he spoke on developing a Risk/Needs assessment tool for offenders. It has been some time since Ben was involved in this field so he was very thankful for the support of British Columbia Corrections and their Regional Director Community Corrections, Bruce Ganie. Basically, Community Risk/Assessment is an approach that differentiates levels of supervision for offenders in the community. The Ukrainian probation officers, many of whom are office managers, really appreciated the information; they want to go further in developing this tool. This is an example of relatively little money making a big impact.

On Friday Ukraine celebrated its 21st Independence Day. Our Molochansk event was also an opportunity to thank the young dancers who made such an impression at the Sorochinskiy Fair. A teacher from the music school made a public statement at the event, thanking the Mennonite Centre for their support over the past years.
The music school is particularly proud of a young accordionist we have supported, who is now performing at international competitions. Our Ukrainian Board member, Marina Romanova, sang a tribute to Molochansk which made several references to the contributions of Mennonites over the years. It is at events like these, that we realize we have many friends here.
We appreciate that many would not consider a board meeting as a highlight. Yesterday we had the meeting of our Ukrainian Advisory Board, which is in charge of administering the programs and distributing the funds received from North Americans. The Board is very conscious about operating within Ukrainian law, being accountable, and maintaining good communication with the FOMCU Board in Canada. There was a lot of healthy discussion on procedures, working with the program in Zaporozhye, dealing with tax issues, etc. It was a very productive meeting.

We also had nine young people from Elmira Mennonite Church in Ontario come to help in the local Kutuzovka Youth Camp. In addition to Ben providing a tour to neighbouring villages, the Mennonite Centre hosted a dinner for the Elmira and local youth, and provided musical instruments for the youth band. They were great kids with lots of energy.

Ben and Linda

If you wish to contribute to the work of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine make your Canadian cheques to "Friends of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine" or "FOMCU." Cheques from American donors should be made out to "MFC-FOMCU". All cheques should be mailed to George Dyck, Treasurer, 3675 North Service Rd, Beamsville, Ontario, Canada - L0R 1B1. Check our website at for information on credit card donations.





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