Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mission trip August 2016

I have finally returned to Ukraine, to the orphanages to continue the work I felt called to do over 7 years ago when I met a tiny little boy names Volusha in a Baby House in Vorzel. I had not returned in 4 years due to the was occurring in Eastern Ukraine and my grief over my son Lee's death.

After much pray and support from my parishioners at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, I was determined to return and pick up where I had left off. This meant that I would be traveling to 5 different orphanages: Zaluchchia, a level 3 orphanage in Western Ukraine, Nivranda, a Baby House in the Ivano-Frankovic region, Znamenka, Vorzel, and another level 3 orphanage in Kyiv where some of the babies from Vorzel had been transferred.

So I packed one very large suitcase with over 200 toys sorted into large ziplock bags each label for a different orphanage. The toys were donated from caring parishioners, family and friends and were mainly rattle and crib toys so that I would have plenty to stimulate the children.

Luckily I packed my clothes and personal supplies in a carry on,  since my luggage got lost somewhere between New York and Lyiv. If I understand correctly, it never made it to Munich in time to be transferred to Lyiv. The important thing is that I made it one time, although they DID have to page me in Munich as I was late for boarding. If you know me, being late is just one of my annoying habits!

But I am here in Ukraine waiting to meet my driver to take me to Nivranda. SO FAR, all my connections have worked out just fine. At the airport, I was met by Vera and we then traveled by foot, bus, and trolley around Lyiv which is a beautiful little city in Western Ukraine and the port way to Europe, before boarding our train for a five hour ride to Synatyn where we were met by Helena and her husband and driven to Zuluchchia. SO in one very long day I traveled on a plane, a train, a trolley, a bus and a car!! And you better believe it, I fell asleep with no problem once settled into my room at the orphanage!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Passion Of Sandie Flannery

I have been a Parishioner at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church for 29 years.  During that time I have grown in my Faith and have come to know and Love many here in our wonderful parish.  For those who know me, they are aware of my passion for Special Needs Children.  After receiving my Masters Degree in Early Childhood Special Education, I applied my studies by working with Colonial IU 20 which services many of the School Districts here in Pennsylvania assisting them with the Special Needs Children in their schools.  I spent my entire Career at CIU 20 and have just recently retired after 25 years.  I loved my career and the many children that filled my days and heart.

Approximately 6 years ago, I accompanied a friend and her husband to the Ukraine on their journey to adopt special needs children with Down Syndrome.  While there I had the opportunity to tour an Orphanage that housed special needs children.  It was then that I knew God’s plan for me.  From that time to the present I have made multiple trips back to the Ukraine in order to assist the Orphanage in the training of their staff and caring for the many “unwanted” special needs children there.  Many of these children have been brought to the orphanages at a very early age because of the expense and strain on the family to raise them.  I am not judging these families for what they have done.  However, the Ukrainian Orphanages do not get enough government assistance to provide the necessary care that is so desperately needed  in raising these children.  Many of these children, because of their disabilities are never adopted.

Over the past few years I have been sponsoring events (Tricky Tray) to raise money that is sent to the Orphanage in order to buy the bare necessities required in the caring of these children.  The money is used for items as basic as Diapers, but often is used for special equipment required in assisting the children.  In the up-coming months & years I will be launching new initiatives to support these special needs orphans.  I hope that you will join me in demonstrating to these children that they are loved and are truly God’s gift to us.  Your prayers & donations will help do this.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Our Lady Queen of Peace Adopts Orphan Outreach Ministry!

I have so much to share and really feel badly that I have ignored this blog for so long. I started posting on Facebook and have a FB site called Serving Special Orphans. Check it out for daily updates and postings.

After my last trip to Ukraine, I knew my ministry was not over, however, my personal life was overwhelming.  Unfortunately, in May 2013 I lost my son Lee at age 26 to drug withdrawal while incarcerated. I then went into a down hill spiral and subsequently took early retirement from my Early Intervention teaching position, ended a long term relationship and concentrated on survival. My daughter was finally, at age 20, diagnosed with a syndrome, Mowat-Wilson Syndrome, and I became very involved in helping to start the Mowat-Wilson SyndromeFoundation . The marriage of my son Kris to a wonderful girl, Miki, and suddenly becoming a Grandmother to a little 6 year old, Syun, kept me busy. However, I never forgot the orphans...............

In late spring of 2015, after much prayer, I approached my Pastor, Fr. M. Quinnen of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Gilbert, Pa., the Pastoral Council and Social Justice Ministry and asked to bring my ministry to the Church. Fr. Mike agreed to allow me to form the Orphan Outreach Ministry and to raise the awareness of the orphans with disabilities in Ukraine to our parish.

After the Ministry was formed a fund raiser was planned in November , around Orphan Sunday.  The intent was to send all donations to an orphanage in need.  We choose the orphans of Zulancchia/Synatyn whom I had visited 3 years previously. With the support of a small group of woman from the Altar and Rosary Society, we went about making over 100 assorted theme related baskets and received over 40 gift certificated for a Tricky Tray. The students of the CCD classes became involved, donating items for a class basket, and various parishioners, not only donated items, but also money!

I presented at all the Masses on Orphan Sunday, sharing the plight of the orphans throughout the world and the situation in the Ukrainian Orphanages, focusing on the orphans in the Level 4 orphanages for those with disabilities.

The following Saturday , the doors opened at 12:00 in McCawley Hall were over 140 baskets and gifts certificates were available for the auction!! There were a few snags but it was quite a success with the crowd cheering, ringing bells and waving wands as their tickets were called and basket awarded! I think I was in semi shock when the doors opened, and I saw the line of people in the hallway waiting to buy their tickets and get in the door! For once I WAS SPEECHLESS! And if you know me, that doesn't happen EVER!

The day was a success! The Orphan Outreach Ministry became a reality and between Church and individual donations received, over $8,00 was raised for the orphans!  I'll add the pictures later, just want to get this posted!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Exciting news!! I'm going to Ukraine back after 3 long years!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Mission

I don't know where to begin to share all the wonderful, amazing things that happened on this trip. I'd like to apologize for not blogging sooner, but i had some 'not so good' things going on at home once I returned.

I know that God had a plan for me and I was reminded of that this trip. I'm not so sure if His plan for me has been fulfilled or just beginning. Four years ago He sent a clear message of me that He wanted me to come back and train His people in how to care and educate His special children and that is happening!!! I first went to Ukraine to help a friend and her husband bring back the children with Down Syndrome that they were adopting. While at the orphanage in Vorzel, I was curious about the children in one of the Groupa Houses who were the weakest and were NOT listed for adoption. Through 2 young men who were working on the grounds of the building through their Church, Almaz, I was told of a child in that Groupa who had si fingers and toes. Well, my daughter Jillian was born with six fingers on boths hands, and I was curious. I was introduced to their Pastor, Sasha Skripak who brought me in to meet the child. Well, little Volva did not have the same type of polydactal that Jillian had. But while holding that child, Pastor Sasha asked if I knew 'how to work with these types of children'. When I explained that I was an Early Intervention Teacher, he asked if I could come back and train his people. They had been praying that day at his church for someone to come help them work with the children. Well, right there, in that very spot, He made it clear to me that this is why He put me in special education, why my life took the course it had, and why He gave me Jillian and that I had to come back and train His people!!

That week I met with Sasha's wife Olya and a few other woman from the Church  and shared with them  strategies to enhance the children's development nd skills and vowed to be back to train .

Once home, I prayed for direction and searched the web. It is there where I found Karen Feathers, who directed me to Dave and Jane Daulton who had adopted from Vorzel. The Daultons'  joined Almaz's one week Mission Trip at Vorzel and brought some equipment. I showed up the following week and fitted the equipment to the children showing staff how to use it along with more equipment which I brought. And out of that we all started talking about holding a conference. That conference came about in January 2011 when I joined Dave, Jane and two friends of theirs, Dr. Cynthia Normandia, an Occupational Therapist and Dr. R. a psychiatrist and together we presented the FIrst Annual Conference on the Needs Of Children with Disabilities in Kiev!!

Okay, back to how I know that this is God's plan for me. This year once again we return, but this time with a team of 14 to present the 2nd Annual Conference. Before the conferencce we traveled to Ternopil and presented at the Eastern Children's regional Hospital, the Bebi and Ko Center and visited an orphanage in Syndactyn,. Well, who is one of the first children I see there: little Volvo from Vorzel!! It was the confirmation that I have no doubt that God had plans for me all along and that He is capable of doing amazing things. Imagine, the little guy I meet in Vorzel, whom I held as I received and accepted a calling from God, to be there 15 hours away, clear across Ukraine in another orphanage! When I held him, and wept in joy, he looked at me and said "Mama?"

No, God's plan for me is not to adopt. We'll have to find a family for him. God's plan for me is to bring Early Intervention Services and Supports and it's happening!!! We had representatives from thier ministry of education, from hospitals, from schools and families at our conference. we presented trainings on behavior management, sendory integration, speech development, physical developent, early intervetnion programming, parenting and more. Our keynote speaker was a young woman with Down Syndrome herself, who talked about the quality of her life. We opened eyes, and changed attitudes!! Things and people are changing in Ukraine for sure. Ukraine is fortunate in that they have us (America) to learn from. And hopefully what took the USA 50 years to reach, as far as attitudes, education, and opportunities for the our special children and the disabled will not take Ukraine that long at all!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Last minute preparations

Well, if anyone knows me, they know I am a great procrastinator! Nothing new for this trip either, but this time I got hit with a severe sore throat, and sinus infection, and was laid  up in bed for 2 days! Not good when I have so much to do! But I think I'll be able to pull it all together to catch my flight this Saturday! Last minute preparations have been compounded by the requests of professional (doctors and educators) for specific training in Ternopil. And of course I want to accomadate them all. So here all the trips plans as of last night. I will be meeting Team 1 at JFK around 1:00 on Saturday for our departure at 7:00 (not sure why we are meeting so early). Once arriving in Ukraine, via russia, we will rtavel to Vorzel and work with the children that Monday. That night we board a train for a 9 hour ride to Ternopil where we will spend a few days training presenting seminars, and conducting evals on the childre of the families who have pulled together to provide services for their children. We will also be delivering about 10 pieces of therapeutic equipment for specific children in the region. Last summer, I presented a seminar there on my own, and was warmly welcomed, so I feel like I am going to visit good friends as well!! From there we will head to Syndactyn, a level 5 orphanage which has had no humanitarian aideas of yet and we will assess their need for future help. We will then head back to Kiev, and Vorzel where we will build a playground and train staff. I am looking forward to delivering photos of the children who are living 'happily ever after' with their forever family. Some 'Vorzel' parents have sent me photo books, others sent pictures and albums to share with favorite careworkers and the doctors.  This is so rewarding for the staff to see how 'their' children faired!Thank you to the parents who have either sent me the pics or are allowing me to share! We will meet up with Team 2 when they arrive and take a day trip to Znamenka, Rominiv and Beriska.I have 85 baseball caps that say GOD ROCKS which people have sponsored for $5.00 each for the boys there. I also have pulled together some teaching activities and have made picture/name cards for approximately 50 of the boys. It's about time these boys learn to recognize their picture and their name!! I can't wait to share with the teacher how to use the cards. Everyone needs to identify a sense of self and what better way then to recognize your picture and yourwritten name!! I also have 3 helmets for the self abusive boys! For Znamenka, I have beads and embroider floss to deliver for specific children.I And for all the orphanages I have rattles, crib toys, markers, crayons, balls,and  bubbles and more.!
One of the other  exciting things I will do on this Mission trip is to deliver 300 Rosary Beads to Ternopil where there have been apparitions of our Mother Mary. A few years ago the government destroyed the shrine so I  feeled blessed to be able to deliver the Rosaries!!
On August 3-4, I will be presenting at the 2nd Annual Conference on the Needs of Children with Disabilities in Kiev!! Over 40 people have signed up for an individual session with me regarding their child. I was shocked and so pleased to hear this. I don't want to disappoint anyone, so I will try to accomadate as many as I could by 'clustering' the grouo into categories and will have two Cota's to assist me.
So I am asking for your prayers, that I am able to beat this sinus infection that has interfered with my last minute preparations. I am still short on funds, so I need your prayers for that as well.