• Pantemeinolivs’ka, 76, Odesa, Ukraine, 65000

Donor Update, Wks. 16-18: A Song of Spring

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, …

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

      - C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Dear Friends,

A few opening comments. First, it is actually true that Oxford professor C.S. Lewis did not use the Oxford comma in the title of his hit novel quoted above. Second, this update comes again later than I would wish, and perhaps a bit shorter, but I am trying to return to my policy of getting them out weekly on Sundays, so stay tuned for next week when the proof will be in the pudding 🙂  Third, I’ve opened with a quote which is vaguely Christian, so for any with qualms about such things, I hope you can forgive me since it is Easter today in Ukraine. (Yes, they calculate the date differently from the Western tradition, dating Easter been a whole thing since almost the beginning of Christianity.) And perhaps I’ve included this quotation because I do hope, just as spring has come again, that the lion of freedom will shake his mane again, and that right and justice will burst forth from the dreadful wrong being perpetrated now on the battlefields of this great country.


Thank you to all of you who have donated in recent weeks. Of $7,456 collected ($4,868 on Fundly, $2,678 on PayPal), we have distributed $5,343.89, receipts for which can be found on our website at the following link:

Week 16: Three Cheers for the Americans (and a Brit 😉

One of my dearest friends here in southern Ukraine is a man named Gary Campbell, a British citizen who works for a large US-based NGO called International Medical Corps. This organization, which started with Americans training medics in Afghanistan in 1984, is now active all over the world helping to relieve suffering. In recent weeks, Gary and his team were able to receive approval for a distribution of hygiene kits and other needed items (including an idea that stemmed from Gary’s work at another organization: shopping trolleys for the elderly and disabled) in Muzykivka. And because of my extensive experience working in that village, they asked me if I would help to coordinate the distribution with the local administration. We had a blast, carrying big boxes around all day, ensuring that everything was recorded correctly, talking with locals, assembling shopping trolleys, the works. I’m so grateful to IMC, to Gary and his team, and to all the local volunteers who helped us. So many in Muzykivka are struggling to recover from Russian occupation or have fled the continuous shelling in nearby Kherson, and such help is invaluable.

L: Brilliant International Medical Corps team 

R: Muzykivka folks lined up for hygiene kits

Week 17: Muzykivka Assessment

The following week took me back to Muzykivka, about four hours from my home in Odesa. This time it was for an assessment of further needs in the region, in partnership with IMC, this time concentrating on the towns which surround our little village. The administration in Muzykivka is responsible for several other small municipalities in the area, and they take that work seriously. It was a good opportunity for me to learn more about the needs of an expanding geographical area in Kherson region as well as to have more detailed discussions about the evolving needs of people living within earshot of artillery fire. But contrasted to the hectic distribution of the previous week, it was relatively smooth. I had dinner with friends and joined their grandmother in making “vareniki” (classic Ukrainian dumplings). I went with the local shopkeeper to the nearby big city of Mykolaiv (further from the front lines) and helped them fill up large bottles of water to take back to town. It was a joy. I have so loved getting to know the Slavic people, and feel that their wisdom is increasingly getting into my bones and teaching me strength, passion, and purpose. 

L: Making “vareniki” (Ukrainian dumplings) with friends in Muzykivka

R: Muzykivkans fill up water bottles in Mykolaiv, more than an hour’s drive away

Week 18: Supporting Local Partners and the Psychiatric Hospital

Finally back in Odesa for this last week, I was able to jump into the normal flow of city life. For much of the week, I attended meetings with various local and international organizations, including Be an Angel and Manifest Mira. These meetings are continually marked by a flood of gratitude for everything that people have sacrificed for the cause of this country. Ukrainians, Germans, Czechs and Poles (and many more) have all come together to defend against the aggression of tyrants and to fight for dignity and compassion. Then, after a long week of meetings and emails, I attended our weekly visit to the Odesa psychiatric hospital. I didn’t discuss it earlier, but I have been on this trip almost every Saturday morning since my first few weeks in the city. The visit is organized by a dear friend, Elena Oiberman, who is from Odesa and has been supporting the hospital for years, and we’re always joined by a few friends from local and international NGOs. This week, we peeled bananas with the staff, handed out traditional Ukrainian Easter cakes to patients, and planted flowers in honor of spring. Never before has the hospital felt so welcoming and warm. Perhaps it was the marvelous weather, or the coming holiday, or just the joy of doing something familiar. Despite the ebbs and flows, as my father recently said, life is good.

L: Peeling bananas with the staff

R: Planting flowers with patients and staffYou, every one of you, are in my thoughts and heart as well. Some sent money in those first days when this all seemed so daunting. Some have given amounts which I am sure have stretched your budgets. Some have given of their time to help design websites, track receipts, send messages of love, or discuss plans. All have been vital to this effort. Today we have a website, an ongoing non-profit registration in the United States, and developing projects in many areas. Tomorrow? The sky’s the limit, as I dared to dream recently. That is thanks to you.

With love,