Saturday, October 22, 2016

#3 - Gifts that Keep on Giving

One of the factors we consider in deciding whether or not to support a proposal is the potential long term impact.  After being here in Ukraine for 15 years, we can see more clearly which projects have had lasting impact.

This week, we came on a situation where we feel that supporting an IDP (internally displaced person) family from Crimea can also benefit the community where they plan to reside.  We became aware of this family with 4 children last spring when we were told that the youngest suffered from severe allergies.  The family had little funds for medical help and tried several unconventional methods to deal with the extreme rash on his face.  We gave funds for a proper diagnosis and treatment.  The following two pictures show the change.                

This family had a prosperous bee keeping business in Crimea prior to the Russian takeover. They all got into their old Lada and fled into southern Ukraine.  Currently they are renting and working for a greenhouse business.  Their dream is to buy a small plot of land and start growing roses for the market.  They have found nearby property in the village and for $5000 they can get an old house and a half hectare of land.  They asked us for a loan.  We cannot give out loans.  Instead we suggested that if we could find specific donors we would be prepared to consider giving them funds to purchase the house on condition that they agree to benefit the community with their property.  For example, they could consider a community garden or provide roses free of charge for community events.  This is an example of giving a gift that will continue to benefits others.  We have had similar arrangements for other farmers in the past.  

Another version of this concept can be found here in Zaparozhe.  Uri got involved in the drug scene and spent time in prison.  After his release, he became a very committed Christian who has a passion to help the homeless.  Each week he provides an outdoor soup kitchen for homeless people in  a park.  He cooks up a large stock pot of hot food together with salad, bread, and a hot drink.  His wife sets up an outdoor barbershop where the homeless sit on the concrete slab.  The hair is cut and dispatched by the wind.  At today's prices Ben was tempted to get a freebie haircut.  Another benefit of getting a haircut and a different item of clothing is that they find it easier to go into warm places like a railway station.  Meanwhile Uri is putting on his surgical gloves and cleaning and applying salve to a cut and bruised face.  We funded the costs for this meal, and the hair clippers.  People also can choose items of used clothing.  There were about 60 people that came out.  

A new look
And how does our gift keep giving? After receiving this gift, the men and women clean up the park, gathering paper and other debris.  In addition, five men have found jobs.  It is amazing what a haircut and new clothes can do for their self esteem.

Another example of a gift that keeps on giving is the rototiller that we provided for the church group in Novapetrovka, formerly Eichenfeld.  This is more than a rototiller for the church garden; it also serves as a rototiller for the larger community.  Pastor Sergei takes the rototiller to seniors and helps them get their gardens ready for spring planting.

The best way to ensure a lasting positive benefit is not necessarily to physically be here forever, but to make sure that Ukrainians are equipped to continue our legacy.

To contribute to the work of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine, you can make your donation to "Friends of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine".  All cheques should be mailed to George Dyck, Treasurer, 3675 North Service Road, Beamsville, ON  L0R 1B1.

If you wish to donate online, go to the website, key in "Mennonite Centre Ukraine", and click on the search button.  Then click on "V" for View, then "P" for profile.  Then "Donate Now".

We thank you,
Ben and Lil Stobbe


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