Sunday, June 04, 2017

Dyakuyu, Spasiba Bol'shoy, saying Thank You

Ukrainians who receive funds from us always say "Spasiba bol'shoye", or "Dyakuyu" in Ukrainian. It means "Thanks", or "Big thanks".  This week we seemed to receive a lot of thank yous.

One of our tasks as Canadian directors is to follow up on projects. We meet with the recipients of your donations, wanting to know and see how the money was spent. This week we went east, close to the conflict zone, and northwest to the village of Nicolaipol.  We also met people in Zaporozhye. The trip to the east took us to two small towns where we met with the pastor of a church that is very engaged in social projects in their community.  The church is providing clean filtered water from their well to small villages near the conflict zone. They are also involved in a halfway house for released offenders and we helped them purchase another house for people suffering from addictions. The pastor was very happy to show us all the projects that we helped them start.
Unfortunately at this time, Ben was in the midst of getting a cold, and the pastor treated him to a genuine Ukrainian sauna with the "full-meal deal", including healthy swats with greens from the garden that had been soaked in hot water.  He still got the cold despite full immersions in a very cold pool.

But what did help was going to the neighboring town where we have supported an energetic young woman who has successfully started a bakery.  Her warm, engaging smile matched the wonderful aroma of freshly baked breads and goodies.  In getting the bakery started we provided a stove, refrigerator, and building renovations.  The bakery is committed to providing a certain amount of free goods to the poor, particularly seniors, in their community. These are villages that are close to the conflict area where they have done a remarkable job of trying to keep a sense of normalcy.

Most people in this territory work in the coal mines. The four-hour trip to this area (three hours on the road with one hour in the holes), revealed vast tracts of lush green fields, giving these residents an anticipation of very good crops.

On our way back to Zaporozhye, we stopped and visited an IDP family from Crimea who, with support from a generous donor, were able to purchase a property and start a bee-keeping operation.  They are also growing roses for commercial use. Nikolai's gentle bees are pollinating the flowering acacia trees and making honey. The roses are happy that the well produces sufficient water for the business. This is another couple that gladly says "Spasiba Bol'shoye".

We also went northwest of Zaporozhye to visit the former Mennonite village of Nicolaipol.  Usually one can expect school principals to be a rather scarred and sober lot, but in saying thank you for a wall cabinet in a classroom, Nadejda gave us an exuberant thank you.
The board just approved providing some funds to help repair the ceilings in two classroom in Nadejda's school.  One wonders how she will demonstrate her thanks when that project is finished.

Right beside the school is the former Mennonite church in Nicolaipol, which is now a school gym. This church has now had its own conversion. Slam-dunk doesn't mean baptism, a foul shot does not refer to improper behavior, and a 3-pointer does not refer to the Trinity.
The windows are thanks to the Ministry of Education and the local government.  Your donations provided protective netting for these windows.

Another genuine "Spasiba Bol'shoy" came from Yuriy and his wife Natasha, a couple who have made a dramatic change from a life of addictions and despair.  They now are leading the cause of helping the homeless in Zaporozhye. Natasha is taking a course in bookkeeping for their organization called "Love Without Boundaries".  She desperately needed a computer and printer. We met with them to tell them the board had approved their requests.  Upon hearing the good news, Yuriy broke into a huge smile, then a tear or two were visible.  Then he got up from his chair and thanked us profusely. We are sure the people in the Intourist lobby seldom see such a sincere demonstration of thanks.
Olga, with Natasha and Yuriy
As a Canadian director working in Ukraine and a board member of FOMCU, I want to say "Spasiba Bol'shoye" to you, our donors.

To contribute to the work of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine, you can make your donation to “Friends of the Mennonite Centre”.  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”, and “P” for “Profile”.  Then “Donate now”.
Please browse our new website at

We thank you,

Ben and Lil Stobbe


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