In the above photo you see (viewable if you click the link to go online) from the orphanage “ANTOSHKA” in Kramatorsk, Ukraine present a program as we brought a special needs wheelchair for the orphanage.
Today has been filled with on-site visits and assessments of the distribution of containers we have shipped into Kramatorsk, Ukraine. Our involvement in Kramatorsk has been on-going for many years. Vlad Paziy is one of the preachers at the congregation here and he has been very involved in the efforts.
In April a container was loaded out of Nampa, Idaho and shipped to Kramatorsk. The container arrived some months ago but the ridiculous requirements of paperwork have hindered its distribution until now. A number of items from that container have been distributed and the remainder should be distributed very quickly.
One of the on-site visits today took me to an orphanage that is “home” to children from birth to 4 years of age. It is called “ANTOSHKA.”
Prior to Russia’s invasion and occupation this orphanage housed 30 children with special needs. Today there are 143 children in this home with about 80% having special needs. The death and destruction of Russia’s aggression has had a devastating impact on every facet of Ukrainian life. As shocking as that evil impact has been on many aspects of Ukrainian life it is the faces of the children that show the greatest trauma. Especially is this true with the children needing special care and attention.
Dr. Anatoly is the Director of ANTOSHKA. He is a kind, pleasant personality who prides himself on always looking for the positives in life. He is the perfect one to fill the position at this orphanage. The children love him and the staff respects him. His heart is large enough so that there is always room for one more little child to be held in his arms.
Dr. Anatoly took us on a tour of the facility. In some rooms therapy was being offered to the orphans. We saw staff working with Down’s children and children with autism. Each staff member was patient, compassionate and loving with the child. In another ward there were HIV+ infants being compassionately loved and tended. There are rooms that help children with therapy for Cerebral Palsy and other physical issues.
In a room used for exercises I saw a few standing frames and Dr. Anatoly said there is nowhere to get such devices in Ukraine and the few he has came from America. I saw walkers designed for CP children.
Note: In March I was contacted by Cheryl at Easter Seals of Arkansas saying they had a large supply of special needs items they wanted to donate. We just have not had the funds to pay for shipping a container and I have not been able to find a sponsor for shipping such a container. All morning I thought of those items just sitting in North Little Rock and thinking how useful they would be for Dr. Anatoly and his staff! The compassionate Doctor thinks one standing frame is a blessing but what would he think of that multiplied 200 times?
I was shown one of the sleeping rooms. It was crammed full of cribs. I am not really sure how the staff can put each baby in its crib because of the cramped room. Dr Anatoly said that just a few years ago the room was only half full of cribs and the children had room, but now there are many children in need and the cribs are all squeezed into the sleeping rooms. As we went from one sleeping room to another he turned to me and said “Look how many there are.”
And the children continue coming. He accepts each new waif and somehow makes room for another crib to be squeezed into the crowded room. No child is turned away. Dr. Anatoly believes that “somehow” help and assistance for the children will come and it is that positive thinking that fuels ANTOSHKA.
The orphanage knew we were coming and the 4 year olds had prepared a program for us. It was a story of a lost kitten who was seeking its momma. As I watched the play and saw the fatherless children involved I wondered if the children could identify with that lost kitten who wanted its momma. Through life’s evil they have lost their momma and poppa. Ultimately the momma cat found her lost baby and the children clapped and danced in joy.
Following the children’s presentation Dr. Anatoly addressed the group and thanked us for sending the items to the orphanage.
We had brought one of the special needs wheelchairs that was shipped on a container and presented it at this assembly. Afterwards the children joined us in a photo as we stood around the donated wheelchair.
The innocence of the child is one of the greatest joys of life. The face of that innocent child who has suffered from his innocence being ripped from his soul is the greatest woe of life.
As we left there was a list of items the orphanage needs. I was told, “We know that it may seem improper and if it is not possible we understand. But IF you might find any of these items we would thank God for your kindness.”
As we left ANTOSHKA today, I thought of Job’s words and prayed that we would be able to affirm the Patriarch’s words, “I delivered the poor who cried for help and the orphan who had no helper” (Job 29:12).
Thank you for your prayers and concerns on this mission trip.
John L. Kachelman, Jr.