Monday, November 7, 2011

Draft Posts Published out of order

I'm not sure how it happened, but in reveiwing my Blog Posts, I found a few drafts that were never published. So I published them now, even though they  are out of order. My blogging has not been very good lately as my Early Intervention Position and some personal issues have kept me very busy this fall. I apologize to my readers/supporters but especially to the children whose stories I want to tell!

Lost boys of ROMINIV, lost no more.(June 2011)

We traveled a few hours out of Kiev and met up with Oksana Shulyak who took us another hour to meet with the director of Rominv, a Level 3 internat out in the middle of nowhere. 13 years ago, Nickaychuk Vasiliy, became director of this internat for boys, ages 3-18, who had mental retardation. At that time the boys were dying at the rate of 12 per year. Conditons were inhumane. There was no heat in the winter, cold water to bathe the boys, black walls, horrific conditions. Nickaychuk addressed he sanitantion co9nditons and had built a state of the arts facility for bathing the boys, and washing their laundry which greatly decreased the rate of contamination. He built a new kitchen facility where they make their own bread, and noodles. He has livestock on the grounds for fresh milk and meat; chickens for eggs. The boys are fed healthy meals daily. They are now working on the 'day center' for the boys daily recreation and exercise. As a result the boys sleeping condtions are crowded, but clean and comfortable, but during the day they must remain outdoors. Approximately, 50 boys remain outdoors, in a fenced in basketball court, all day, with no shelter from the hot sun, no water to quench their thirst. As a result, the boys have 'shut down', many lying on the ground in the fetal position, others pacing back and forth. It is so unfair yet the director feels helpless with the assets he has to do anything else. But the positive thing is that he is asking for help! He would like me to come back and train his staff, help design a sensory room and develop an educational program. But he urgently needs funds to complete the renovations before the cold weather arises! These boys need  both an indoor and an outdoor playground which encourages movement, sensory exploration, exercise and fun! Due to a total lack of experience with toys and materials, I need to come with a plan to provide materials and activities to enhance active learning experiences, and to keep 80 boys stimulated all at the same time!! Boys who have sat all day, day after day, night after night, week after week, with nothing to look at, nothing to explore and nothing to do! Our team has ideas: a dental hygienist to treat their teeth and gum disease, MUSIC, DVD's, murals, a sensory room, a gym, an outdoor playground, visits from Almaz Church members and training for the staff.

Our visit to Znamenka (June 2011)

We had the opportunity to return to Znamenka, a level 5 orphanage, this time bringing some old and new team mebers. Dan Peters had been there previously to help Dave Daulton, from a ather's Heart, to build a playgoround a few years back. It was fun to locate their pictures hanging on the wall. This time we had the privelidge of meeting with Tatiana, t he Director, who is responsible for tturning the entire orphanage around.Whereas a few years back, they had wings with no electricity or water, now the place is cheery and homey for the children. You are able to see the love that she and the staff have for the children. These children, many who only had a twisted body, have spent their lives behind walls. When we first arived, we were treated to typical Ukrainian hospitality and offered a breakfast, which was welcomed after our 4 hour train ride. Then we were entertained by the children, who sang hymns (the first to our Mother Mary)  and folksongs, recited poetry and then posed for pictures with us. Olya and Sasha brought the littlest missionary, their baby daughter Teresa, and many of the children were in awe and wanted to hold her as they never saw a baby before! God Blessed Teresa with a great disposition and she smiled and gurgled as she was passed from one child to another. So many of the children have now become familiar faces, and we are hoping to get as many of them as possible up on site for adoption. It still amazed me everytime I heard the age of the children, as their bodies were stunted from malnutrition and lack of nuturing. I made it a point to hug and touch as many of the children as I could, and their faces just lit up with each stroke or pat.

Almaz Church ministers to Rominiv Boys!

I was so excited to get this video from Pastor Sasha Skripak whom I have partnered with in the Ukraine. His Church, Almaz, has been welcomed by the Director and just last weekend visited and brought supplies for the boys! The boys look sadder as they try to stay warm as the cooler weather of autumn descends upon this rural orphanage , but they look so happy to have visitors. So much now is happening since our visit with Oksana from Mission to Ukraine in June of 2011. There is now a wonderful woman Emily Wallace, an Occupational Therapist volunteering with the boys through MTU, teaching the boys in small groups! The barriers are down, and the boys are lost no more. Please go to this link to watch the video! It's so exciting to be involved and I am so looking forward to returning ASAP. I will be starting to fund raise soon so please follow along. If anyone has helmets to protect the head from self abuse and seizures, we desperately need six of them for specific boys there! Please contact me at

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Building a new future for Ukrainian people with Down syndrome

Building a new future for Ukrainian people with Down syndrome

It's amazing and exciting what is starting to happen in the Ukraine for people with Down Syndrome! Let's pray it spreads to other individuals who have developmental disabilities as well!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


For a while now I have been talking about going back to minister to the children and staff at the orphanages and had hoped to go back there this week. But I couldn't do it.  We have been asked to put  putting together another conference for families and professionals this winter. But it all costs money!!!  (Of which I have none!!!!)  We have also been gathering much needed adaptive equipment and need to ship it over and are hoping to ship a  container ahead of time so we can distribute the equipment to the neediest. There are five boys in Rominiv who are in need of protective helmets due to their self abusive behaviors. So I will begin fund raising as of today. If anyone would like to help my cause the children would so appreciate it!!
This weekend I will be starting with a YARD SALE at my house in Effort, Pa., so I need your prayers that the rain holds out and the volunteers come! I will be offering  Matryushka dolls and ornate eggs for sale along with other items from the Ukraine, just in time for the holiday season. For information and directons please email me at or call 570/350-9652

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bible Orphan Ministry: Shoes and clothes

Bible Orphan Ministry: Shoes and clothes: With big burden and sadness i`m writing this post. I told you about orphans in camp before but not all... Because i was going to tell yo...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reaching families in Ternopil

I was invited to speak with families and professionals in the wonderful town of Ternopil, approximately 8 hours by train from Kiev. Upon arriving in Kiev we were met Sasha and Olya Skripak who informed us that a driver was waiting to take us to Ternopil where they were awaiting my arrival to present a seminar and to visit the Centre "BebiKo". Pastor Vladimir Klostisinu, the father of a little boy who has hydorcephalus, had attended the conference in Kiev in January and was anxious for the staff and families of his region to have the oppoprtunity to hear it as well. Fortunately I had brought some of the conference materials with me, and had my Presentation on Powerpoint so I was as prepared as I could be after 14 hours on a plane! The Ukraine boosts the richest topsoil and something like 90% of the world's topsoil which means the roads have no sub base and were VERY heaved and the 12+ hour road trip felt like an endless  roller coaster ride! Once in Ternopil we stayed at a Christian Youth Hostel (Youth With a Mission) and were treated by the fine hospitality of Dima Amit and staff. The next morning Vladimir met us first thing and took us to the BebiKo Centre where  I met with children, staff and families. Olga the director had also attended the conference in January as was very proud to show me her center!
This little guy had no language and was reportedly aggressive and the staff had concerns that he may have autism as well. After demonstrating a few times how to get him to gesture for 'my turn' he surprised all of us by gesturing spontaneously in order to gain the desired object! I could not have orchestrated this demonstration better if I paid an actor! In the evening I would have the opportunity to explain at my seminar how exactly sign language/gestures helps to facilitate language comprehension and allows the child to express their wants and needs thus eliminating some negative behaviors that develop out of frustration! Olya the director and Teacher explained to us that the BebiKo Centre is the only "Baby School" in the area and is in need of a larger facility, and one that is handicapped accessible as it is on a second floor with no elevator and only has one classroom, a small storage area, a bathroom and an office! The school is in desperate need of funds for a larger building in order to accomadate more children and therapeutic equipment and materials. They currently pay the equivalent of $450 per month! We would like to help them get a larger center, one that has multiple rooms for therapies and classes. Currently the children only are able to come for one hour per day in order to accomadate all the children who need it. If you would like to help by donating to this cause, please contact me at Your donations will be tax deductible.

Water jet therapy
Salt 'cave' for sinus/asthma treatement
After visiting the center, Vladimir took us to see an outpatient treatment center/facility where we received a tour and learned of some therapies not readily available here in America. The first is water therapy and yes we have it here as well but they also use a variety of mineral treatments and water 'jets'. I'm not quite sure how it works but thought it might feel wonderful for my aching back! The children also were able to go in a pool with their parent who was instructed by a therapist. I was happy to see that they also had more of the therapies that we typically have here in the states with children working on core strength on balls and mats. Children with motor impairments such as cerebral palsy work on adult size equipment and they are in need of smaller childsize equipment. The Director here was very excited to share with us her hippotherapy (equine therapy) program which we unfortunately did not have time to visit. They currently have 1 horse and 1 set of equipment. Pastor Vladimir is hoping to move the program to the center of the town park to gain more awareness for it and the children it benefits. They are in need of funds and equipment in order to expand the program. They were also very excited about their new 'sensory room' which I am seeing duplicated throughout the Ukraine. Basically it is a room with mats, lights, soft sounds, various scents, etc. which is often used here for the children with significant multiple disabilities and/or autism.

After leaving there, Vladimir brought us to his Church's Ministry Center for children with special needs that they are building on donated land. Equipment is already being collected to share with families as  needed. Our ministry hopes to be able to provide them with specific equipment this fall when we send a cargo shipment of donated equipment. Vlad shared with us that the town of Ternopil had been used to hold arms during the cold wars and that over 80 'missiles' were found on the property and removed during the building. it definitely made us a little cautious as we walked outdoors!

Equipment to share!
We finally had the pleasure of meeting Vladimir's son and his his wife Olga who we all voted as making the BEST BORSCHT in the Ukraine (and it wasn't just because we were hungry! It was really good!)!

We had just enough time to go back to the YWAM hostel to find approximately 30 parents and professionals waiting for my seminar to begin. I had hoped to shower and change before hand, but there was no time. Fortunately, my Power Point came right up and I had a wonderful translator whom I had met earlier at the BebiKo Centre. I presented on the use of Early Intervention Techniques with an emphasis on alternative communication techniques. I also briefly addressed the Child with Physical Limitations and positioning techniques but a large part of the presentation came at the end when the group had the opportunity to ask questions. I thank God for the stamina that He provided me that day as I was able to remain alert and awake to answer questions right up to the time we exited for the train! What a fulfilling Mission in Ternopil- I can't wait to return. IMG_7407

I was presented a tradtional painted egg with the town of Ternopil painted on it as a thank you gift and rememberance by Olga (on my left) with Yulia, a translator (on my right).IMG_7421
Boy do I look exhausted after day 1 of the Mission! I slept really well on the train ride  back to Kiev which actually took about 10 hours!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Lost Boys of Romaniv

Back in the soviet times, those who were 'mentally defective' were hidden from view. We traveled to one such orphanage, a Level 4 in Romaniv. After traveling down a single lane road for miles, we came to a stop in front of cement walls. Behind those walls were 80 boys ages 6 on up who were deemed untrainable. 13 Years ago the boys were dying at the rate of 12+ per year. They had no oil for heat, or hot water. The buildings were dark and stank. A new director took over, Nickolaychuk Vasily who knew he had to first create a safe and healthy environment for the boys in order for them to live. He built a state of the art sanitation facility for bathing and laundry. He created a new kitchen where they make their own bread and noodles, and a dining hall for the boys to eat at tables. Now he is creating a large day center and hopes to add an indoor gym with exercise equipment and an activity center. Meanwhile, the boys spend all the time outdoor, in a large fenced in basketball court with a few balls and staff to keep them safe. He is not proud of this but has no other options at this time. The director  invited us to Romaniv through Oksana Shulyak from a Mission to Ukraine after checking up on our credibilty  and speaking with Pastor Sasha from Almaz Church. Oksana had attended our conference in January and was anxious to have us consult there. How could we not??! The pictures in my Montage will speak for itself. These boys have had no education and the director would like our assistance setting up a sensory room and an 'intervention program'. These boys need so much more too. Our team is planning on returning and bringing playground and gym equipment, a dental team, and, I will be doing staff training and helping to set up an educational program. We are looking for people to join us! No experience is necessary but some educational experince would be a bonus! Please contact me on Facebook at Sandie Flannery for more information or go to for more ways to help. Our Mission needs your prayers and is in need of finacial assistance. WOULD YOU PLEASE CONSIDER HELPING? To start, 5 of the boys are in need of helmets to help prevent injury from self abuse.. I will include a list of more supplies in a later blog.

Our Team travels to Romaniv

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vanya having a good old time!

Please help the Earlywine's bring little Kasey home. Even though he's having fun with a favorite careworker, nothing beats a mom and dad and siblings!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Presidential order expected to allow SDA to continue processing adoptions in Ukraine

"On July 8, 2011, the president of Ukraine signed an order which extends the State Department on Adoption’s (SDA's) authority to process adoptions. We have been informed by the SDA that the order will not take effect until the order is published, likely within a few days. The SDA currently is not accepting adoption applications. According to the order, the SDA will have the authority to continue processing adoptions until the Ministry of Social policy is ready to take over as the new adoption authority in Ukraine. The Ministry does not yet know when they will be prepared to take over adoption processing.

We will continue to ask the Ukrainian government to resume adoptions as quickly as possible. We will also continue to encourage the Ministry of Social Policy to protect adoptions where U.S. prospective adoptive parents have already been approved by the SDA to adopt a particular child.

According to the SDA, there are approximately 139 U.S. families registered with the SDA, some of them already in-country. We will be following new developments closely to understand how they will affect the families currently in process and will be posting relevant updates. In that respect, we recommend that all American families that are currently in Ukraine or have appointments with SDA during the next few weeks send their contact information to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine's Adoption Unit at:
Families should contact their local adoption service provider for further updates and details

Thanks to Hospitality in Kiev for the above information!

The most difficult moment in my life - Almaz church projects

The most difficult moment in my life - Almaz church projects

Sunday, July 10, 2011

First class at Vorzel for Masha and Bogdon

I know so many of you worry about the little ones left behind and I do too. But I am so happy to announce that things are changing at Vorzel, slowly but positvely. Having met with Olga, the head teacher for the past two years, I was so happy to hear that she is finally using some of the techniques and strategies I have been sharing with her, to enhance the overall langauge and cognitive development of the children with Down Syndrome!!One of my last days there, Masha and Bogdon had their first lesson by Tatiana, the teacher in Groupa 5, who was directed by Olga to use gestures!  Yes, they used some SIGN LANGUAGE with them and were shocked when they not only understood but imitated them as well!! I was so excited that she 'got it' finally and saw it working! She intends to continue using 'gestures' to help the children communicate!!I'm so excited! We've decided that when we return in November for the 2nd Conference I will present at Vorzel as well! How wonderful that not only are the doors open, but their minds as well!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I spent the day at Vorzel today, in Groupa House 1 where I first felt God calling me to minister to these orphans. I remembered how I 'wandered' over there and met 2 young men who were working on the building with their Pastor. They told me about the children with 'big heads' and 'six fingers' and I was curious and wanted to find these children so we could find them families. It's there where I met Pastor Sasha and my ministry began. At the time, the children were never outdoors, and from what I understood, no visitors allowed. It's there where I found the children, lying in silence, no toys, no stimulation at all. There were the lowest of them all, and the children who would soon be transferred. It was a scarey and sad destiny for God's littlest ones. I knew I had to help. Today, the children have toys in their cribs and carriages, the staff laugh and sing to them. It's a very different place. Almaz is working on redoing the bathrooms which is a uplifting for the careworkers. They were delighted to see me and immediately asked about the children who were adopted. They asked if I knew about families for the children who remained. I was so glad that I could tell them that Vlad and Andrey had parents. These conversations would not have occurred in the past. The barriers have fallen and the careworkers are not sceptical about our presence. They see the fruits of our labor. Soon they will have a wonderful area to bring the children outdoors, with real benches to sit on, and overhangs to protect them from the sun. They asked for a fence so they could bring the childrn out in the walkers! What a change! And they allowed me to spend all day with one special little boy, whom I know as Do Vee Sat. This is the little Vietamiese boy with failure to thrive that I was gave them money to buy a blender so they could feed him last year. Not only did he thrive, but he has the most beautiful little full round face! This little boy has a severe case of cerebral palsy; he can not bend at the waist from the contractures in his hips. He is the size of an 8 month old, yet is 3 or even 4!  I sat and held this tiny child for over 4 hours. long after the others went inside. I held him while I played ball with SASHA; while I pushed Andrey in his stroller; and while I gave rattles and toys to the others. ANd I slowly stretched his tight little arms , and massaged his hands, and kissed his neck. And slowly he started to relax; he trasked toys and then he SMILED. The biggest and best smile I ever saw. His face lit up and so did mine! We were in love! I cooed and he cooed! The doctor brought me a therapy ball, and I gently stretched worked his stiff little muscles and he relaxed. I was hoping the careworkers saw his reaction and I brought him closer and they were amazed to see him smile and BELLY laugh! I know that I touched this child today and made him feel special. I know so when I laid him down and he started to cry. When I leaned over him and talked to him he stopped and then slowly, very slowly he reached for the toys which was hanging over his head. And he TOUCHED it! This little boys arms were stuck at his side and after a few hours of stretching he could reach!!!! And he smiled!! I thank God for this ministry he has given me! Please pray that others will continue when I leave to stretched this child so that he can sit! Please pray we can get him a family.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mission Trip Summer 2011

Well, I never packed so much into three days since leaving for the Ukraine a few days ago! I have already flown into Moscow, then Kiev, taken a 9 hour car ride on VERY BUMPY ROADS to Ternipol, visited a Babycol, a preschool program for children with Down Syndrome and other delays, consulted for some individual children and demonstrated intervention techniques, visited and toured a rehab center, a hospital center, had lunch with Pastor Vladimir and his lovey  wife Oksana and son Zacharia, visited a building being constructed for their  ministry  to children with special needs, and presented at a seminar to a group of parents and professionals in Ternipol on Early Intervention Strategies to enhance the development of young children with special needs. After taking a tour of the beautiful town of Ternipol, I boarded a train for the  8 hour trip  back to Kyiv. After being picked up at the train station and a quick meal at McDonald's,  I arrived at the Hotel Spa in Vorzel where our team decided to stay this time to offset our hectic schedule! Then it was off to the orphanage to visit with the children and start work on the playground. During a relaxing dinner, on the water edge (!) we got to meet the other members of our humanitarian team, and rest up for the upcoming week!
Our team consists of Pastor Sasha and his wife Olya, myself, an Early Intervention Specialist and Parent Advocate, Rachel Haas, a Graduate student, Dan Peters, a missionary and self proclaimed 'baby freak', who is the father of 16, whose 2 youngest were adopted from the Ukraine, a couple from Norway, and Stephen, a lawyer and President of a local Down Syndrome Group. Our goal is to provide support through the continued construction of the playgrounds in Vorzel, and services to the children and staff. We will also be meeting the Head of the local Parents group in Kyiv to begin a collaboration of support for the local families. We will be visiting a level 4 orphanage in Znamenka and distributing donated toys and materials. Our group is gathering information on specific needs of orphanages, parent groups , centers, schools and hospitals, and intention on gathering therapeutic equipment in the states and sending a shipping a cargo crate for distribution this fall! We have already had specific requests for standers, Rifton Gait trainers, hippotherapy equipment (more on this later), motorized chairs for young adults, tubchairs, and classroom materials!
More posts with pictures tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Off to Vorzel tomorrow!

Well, you think I'd be resting as I am heading off tomorrow morning but I'll tell you no matter how many times I go to the Ukraine, I'm always running around last minute packing! Donations for the children continued to arrive today and Jillian and I drove around the Poconos picking up precious donations for the children! Odd Lot generously donated over 50 coloring books and crayons (wieght 13 pounds) and i have over 130 Happy Meal Toys as well! I decided this time to put my clothes in my carry on luggage,  and toss the heavy matching suitcases, so I'm packed in 2 large duffle bags each weighing around 40 pounds!That's over 80 pounds of crib toys, rattles, sippy cups, spoons, chalkboards (That's right!), bathing suits, Happy Meal toys, Mardi Gras beads, rings, puzzles, nesting cups, crib mirrors, mobiles, baby toys (one's that make music or vibrate and DON'T require Batteries)and therapy materials. It's quite a hall and I'm  not sure where it will all land, but I know that every toys will be put in the hands of a child who needs it! Other materials will be donated to Parent groups. I'm excited to be traveling by overnight train to Tornopil, to present a early intervention seminar to the families and workers there. It's always exciting to have a new adventure and an overnight train sounds exciting! But more important it is to share what is close to my heart, Early Intervention, and sharing what I know with parents, educators, and the careworkers, so that a child's potential is enhanced and the quality of their life improved. I can't thank God enough for placing me in this field and calling me to do His work in such an exciting way. I'm really looking forward to spending the time at Vorzel with the children and the workers. It will seem odd but OH SO RIGHT to not see Igor, Ivanna, Leeza, Misha, Timur, and Vlad in Groupa House 1, and Masha, Agelica and ANya in Groupa 5 A and of course Ruslan and Timur! But it is a comfort to know that all are in the loving arms of their forever family! There are the other's left behind, to love and comfort; to stimulate and encourage; whose lives I will touch! Praying we can do so much more!
Well, I better close the bags, do a last minute check on the house, make sure the bills are paid, Jillian's bags are packed, print out my eticket and go to bed! Next time you hear from me, it will be from the Ukraine!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Missionary project in Vorzel (summer 2011) -

Missionary project in Vorzel (summer 2011) -


I've decided I want to bring bathing suits for the children in the orphanage. So if you have any old suits from your kiddos please send them my way. I picked up a dozen at garage sales this weekend and have our Church TLC group collecting them! Only two weeks to go! So please help me!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Donations arriving!

Toys and promises of therapy equipment started arriving this weekend! I will need to start some fast fundraising in order to transport it all. I have a wooded Rifton standing table that I can barely lift! Any ideas? Any family heading over soon that is willing to take some supplies/equipment as well?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Heading to the Ukraine again and need your help!

     This June I will be heading back to the Ukraine with a team of five. I will be joining Dave Daulton from a Father's Heart whom I teamed up with this January to present the First International Conference on the Needs of Children with Disabilities. Also joining us will be Stephen Ford, an attorney and past president of a local Down Syndrome Association, Dan Peters, a Board Memeber and Rachel Haas, a student. I will be be demonstrating and teaching therapy techniques for the children at Vorzel. Stephen will be meeting with Sergey Kurianov to work out details for a possible 'sister organization' relationship with the Ukraine Down Syndrome Assocaition. Dan will be Head Engineer for building and installing playground equipment on the concrete slab at Groupa House 5. We have so much more planned this trip as well. We will be visiting Pastor Volodymyr Kostyshyn, ('Vlad'), who works with a Church outreach ministry for children with special needs in Ternopil. He traveled 9 hours by train to attend our conference! He and his wife have a son who is severely disabled like my Jillian, and we were able to provide his ministry with 2 wheelchairs and 3 gait trainers our last trip which were given to needy families. There is such a need for equipment. I am accepting donations of equipment, along with money to cover the cost of shipping. Please contact me for more details and information where you can send a tax free donation to help defer our costs. I currently have a stander, a treadmill and at least one walker! We will be traveling by train and spend two days at Vlad's church and therapy center to see what they are accomplishing and how we can best serve their ministry with the children with disabilities. In the fall we'd like to bring a therapy team to work with their staff.
     We will also be meeting with Sergey Kurianov, the President of the Ukriane Down Syndrome Association, along with several Board Members and Association Members. (More on that later.)

      We also will be traveling to Znamenka, a level Four Orphanage and a visit with Oksana Vodyanitska, the Director of the Special Needs Ministry of Mission to Ukraine, a Christian Ministry operated in Zhitomir. They minister to children with special needs and their families through a number of programs. We met Oksana at the conference and she took us aside to thank us for the presentations, saying tearfully, "We having been praying for something like this for ten years!" We will also visit the Romaniv orpahnage, a Level Three orpahnage for boys ages 5 to 16 or older with special needs, They were hidden from view for years, but Mission to Ukraine literally found them and has been working with them for about a year. The boys benefit greatly from this intervention, but need more services and equipment, so we are doing a 'recon' while there to see precisely how we can help them on future mission trips. For more information on the Romaniv orphanage or Mission to Ukraine, see their website at

     We are hoping to have enough funds raised to help with new sewage lines under Building #1 in Vorzel. The lines were installed  in  the 50's, and have totally deteriorated, under the building and are dumping RAW sewage under the building which houses some of the most involved children! We also have plans to start work on 2 new therapy rooms, and a new bathroom to replace the kitchen that burnt down last year!

      So we have lots of ambitions for this trip this June. We are seeking your prayers and financial support for this trip to cover our costs of travel, fod, housing and interpreters. Please consider sending us a donation and committing to pray for us on this trip. Please feel free to email me with any questions or more information. And don't forget, you are welcome to join us! Thank you and God Bless you for your support!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Jewels in My Crown: Under the fluffy pajamas...

Jewels in My Crown: Under the fluffy pajamas...: "Look at those beautiful chubby cheeks! Isn't she a total doll? She's almost 4 years old. And those luscious, chocolaty brown eyes? How coul..."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Reaching the Unreached-Ukraine Orphans with Special Needs Ministry

Presented by Father's Heart and Almaz Church
Come join us for an informational meeting, slideshow and reception on Friday evening, March 18th, from 7:00 to 9:00 at Church of the Messiah, 816 Kempsville Road, Chesapeaake, VA or Saturday morning, March 19the from 10:00 - Noon at New Life Providence Church, Room 145, 1244 Thompkins Lane, Virginia Beach, VA-it could change your life!
Is God calling you to serve the Least of These? So you long to be part of the Great Commission? Come and meet Pastor Sasha and hear about his vision for the unloved orphans of the Ukraine. Then learn how you can be part of an upcoming Missions trip for onr week in June to visit with these orphans, play with them, hug and love them, and help make their world a little better, while teaching them about eh Love of a Father will will never leave them no forsake them!

You can answer God's call with: Here am I, Lord, send me!
If not you, then who?
Come out and meet Olya and Pastor Sasha Skrypak from Almaz Church, Jane and Dave Daulton of Father's Heart and Myself and Jillian from Serving Special Orphans

If you recently adopted a child from Vorzel, bring them by as we 'd love to see them again!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hospitality in Kiev: Announcing....

Hospitality in Kiev: Announcing....: "I am very excited to use this post to announce a new development in ministry here in Ukraine-- A ministry to house Adoptive families in Kiev..."

Monday, February 21, 2011

They came 9 hours by train...

This couple came over 9 hours by train to attend the conference!!! They had a daughter who was 32 years old and had Down Syndrome!! They asked to speak and were highly motivating to all! Imagine having a daughter with Down Syndrome when the country was communist! Imagine not knowing what was wrong with her, and treating her like your other children! And imagine this, she learned to speak and read and write, and that was against all odds back then! Imagine finally meeeting with professionals and other parents and getting to tell your story! This couple was so thankful to God for the opportunity to encourage other families and for their special daughter that they sang a song of praise! Imagine that!!It was hard to keep back the tears and I found myself singing along with the group in Russian praising the Lord! At a conference...

Long overdue Conference Pictures

I've been so busy that I just realized I never did post some pictures and share information from the conference! We had somewhere around 175 people between the two days and that consisted of families, orphanage workers, doctors, educators, and volunteers. We barely had time to drink some water in between sessions as there were so many people with questions! I even missed the closing as I was speaking with a few parents who needed support during that time. Luckily, I did not miss the wonderful ladies from Vorzel presenting our team with hand made presents and thanks for all that we had done for them and the children, as I was presented mine individually earlier that day!

I presented on two different topics, the first topic Early Intervention Techniques with Children with Disabilities: What to do and How to Do it, to enhance your infant and child's development!, was presented both Friday night and Saturday morning.
I t was interesting the first night, learning to present with a translator. I had a wonderful young woman, Helen, who did an awesome job! I am very casual when I present, like to joke alot and since I was presenting the medical aspect of Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy, she didn't have alot of medical terms to translate; just alot of jokes. I had brought my puppet, Alexis for demonstration purposes which was perfect. So, thank you Slyvia for not letting me leave without her! Gwen Smith was so wonderful to share pictures and videos of her adorable little son Henry whose smiling face greeted people throughout the presentation! I was also fortunate to have downloaded some great videos on infant stimulation and some toddlers with DS signing and reading which really opened the eyes and ears of everyone. Not being able to find the signs in Russian I encouraged them all to start using some signs to have basic needs met.

My second topic was Therapeutic Strategies and Equipment for the Physically Limited Child and although I am not a physical or occupational therapist, as an Early Intervention Specialist I need to incorporate appropriate strategies for positioning and transitioning children. While in the orphanages, I noticed so many children with failure to thrive, and watched as the workers struggled to feed them. So I knew I had to address  this important issue, along with positioning to prevent contractures, etc. in the children with cerebral palsy. I was so happy I had Alexis to demonstrate the positions because it is such an important issue. My dear freind Sylvia had drawn illustrations of positioning do's and don'ts which hung around the room and I had a large packet of handouts as well. I hope that they walked away with a clearer understanding of how and why you handle the child with physical disabilities in specific ways. It was great to also have equipment which we then donated  to specific families and to the orphanage at Vorzel. 
My third sessions was for Questions and Answers and was packed! And in betweeen it all, I had scheduled appointments with individual children and families!

This little guy's parents were so proud of their son and worked really hard with him at home, They traveled hours to get to the conference and just wanted to know that their son was developing as he should! They are doing a great job with him, and I expect he'll be signing for 'eat, drink and diaper change' before you know it! It was so great to meet families who decided to keep their child rather than listen to the doctors and send them to the orphanages! More on the other presenters tomorrow!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Here's Anya!

Anya couldn't wait to go back to playing with the toys that I gave her from her Mommy and Daddy! She was so excited by all the attention!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The First International Conference on the Needs of Children with Disabilites

Please checkout this link to see the TV coverage of the conference! It is my understanding that it was seen by thousands in the former USSR and is a testimony to the ministry of Almaz Church and our Misison to minister to the orphans and children with special needs! This would not have happened without God who brought our group together! Please watch it all as there are many familiar faces from Vorzel as well as other orphanages that many of the children who have recently been adopted were from!В-Киеве-прошла-конференция-посвященная-служению-детям-с-ограниченными-возможностями

Groupa House 1 Vorzel

This is where it began for me! 19 months ago, I finally undestood what God wanted me to do with my life! Why he gave me my daughter Jillian, with six fingers, and why I spent my life helping children with disabilities and becoming a special education teacher. It was here that He wanted me! Here I met Pastor Sasha Skripak from Almaz Church, an evangelisist Pastor, and me a Roman Catholic, who showed me what I must do! It's here where Serving Special Orphans was found! Only God could be this creative to bring two people from the opposite sides of the world together for the same Mission! And out of that meeting, that day in June 2009, the First International Conference on the Needs of Children with Disabilities developed!!!!

                  Pastor Sasha Skripak, myself and the Doctors and ladies from Groupa House 1!
This Groupa houses the most severely involved children and I believe those who are about to be scheduled to be transferred as it was here that Leeza, Ivanna and Igor had been this summer. And here that little Volvo had been before being transferred! It has a small infirmary as well. And it has some of the most beautiful and most involved children. But the good news is, these children are leaving soon, not to a level 4 orphanage (institution) but to families who found them and want them.When I photographed these children and inquired about their availability back in 2009, I was told these were children that NOONE would want because they were too sick! Not all of the children have been 'cleared' for adoption and we need to pray that their parents release them before it is too late: Sasha, Dmitri, 'little Mikie', and Katya and 'little Stevie" before they end up like Volvo, transferred or like little Erra, who is with God in Heaven.
Little Mikie
Little Stevie
Plase pray that these children are released for adoption before it's too late  for them!

Misha needs a family so desperately! I have seen his laugh and I have seen him lying in his crib, alone, legs and hips in a cast looking so sad and distant. Please won't someone come forward and take this little boy home?
I was finally able to whisper to Igor (Casey) that he had a Mama and Papa coming for him!
I couldn't stop squeezing Timur as I told him his family would be there soon as well.
And this little guy got the news that his parents would be there the next week!! And the Malone's are currently there visiting with their LITTLE guy and should be bringing him home soon!

My own daughter would have been in this house with her vision delays, six fingers, seizures and significant developmental delays so these children have held a special place in my heart! And these woman have too because they have cared for the weakest and their house is in the poorest shape. Hopefully, this house will receive the facelift it needs through the Almaz Missions this summer and the children will all be with their families!!!
God Bless them all!!!

Vorzel Visit

It was wonderful to visit the children and workers at Vorzel, the orphanage where I first realized that God had been preparing me for His work with the children my entire life! Since the first time I was there approximately 19 months ago, I have known 19 children with special needs who have been adopted by famlies in America and France. I have been fortunate to have been able to follow the stories of some of these children and was happy to share updated information and photos of some of the children (with their parent's permission). A few of the children I had previously brought gifts and photos from their adoptive families and immediately was questioned about these children's adjustment in America. They were a bit disappointed I hadn't brought photos of more children and promised them that I would try to bring more next time. Yes, I plan on returning in June if it is God's plan for me.
I met with the Head Doctor, along with Dave, Jane and Anya and were given permission to go to all the Groupa Houses.I also was delighted to present little Miss Anya with gifts from her Forever Family and video her also! I am not sure who felt she had Moebius syndrome, but am sure she doesn't have it after seeing her giggles when tickled!! Having known this little one for 19 months, I am so happy that she has a family! There I was distressed to find that Mr. Bougdon, who had mastered walking with the aide of a walker I had brought there is June, no longer receives visits from his father. We need to pray for this little munchkin along with all the children!

In Groupa 5 ,I was able to see all the children whom I had spent so much time with and talk with some of the caregivers regarding the children who were recently adopted from there. I'm so happy to announce that Sasha and Dmitri, along with their sister Nadia are being adopted by a couple from AlmazChurch and will be living locally. Oh, how I fretted over this sibling group! This is the  mission of the Amaz Church; local families, members of their Church, adopting the children!

How delighted I was to see the room finished that the Almaz Mission groups was working on last June. Not only do the children have new walls and a new bathroom, but the staff finally have a bathroom of their own!And the playground is now fenced in! Now..if we can only raise the funds for the equipment this spring!

In Groupa House 2, I met with Tatiana and she allowed me to visit with and photograph  Baby Boo (AKA: Hamilton/Oliver for the his family and give him his gifts and family album. What a priviledge this was! He is just so precious!

So much more to share...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The orphans in Znamenka sing their hearts out!

These orphans have spent their lives institutionalized in the Ukraine. Yet they can sing joyously! Remember them the next time you feel discouraged!


A short trip by taxi brought us to the orphanage known as Berizka where we met with Alexander the Head Doctor/Director. We shared with him the purpose of our mission and invited him and his staff to join us at the conference. After talking with Dr. Alexander for a while, he pulled out a picture of a child with Down Syndrome who had recently been adopted from there and asked if we had any current information on her. He remarked that he was so surprised that a family who already had one child with Down Syndrome would want another one. We have so much work to do to open the eyes of the professional as to the blessings these children bring into your life! And once again, I realized that what some have perceived as a 'cold attitude' towards the children and adoptive parents is really just their coping technique for 'letting go' of the children they have cared for since infancy! Wherever we went, the careworkers were anxious for news and pictures of 'their kids'. At Vorzel, where Anya, Dave and Jane's daughter with Down Syndrome was adopted from, they produced a picture of her when she was little and asked to pose for pictures with her, fixing her hair and clothes so she looked 'just right'.I am so glad that Pastor Sasha and Olya have ministered to the workers as well as the children!
Dr. Alexander, reported that the children of Berizka were ill but he would allow us to visit with them none the less. We were delighted to see a small group of children engaged in music and movement in a large room and other children in little classrooms, actively engaged in play with educational toys. These little faces were so precious and happy, despite their little 'drippy noses'! And we met with staff who were planning on attending the conference. It was nice to see that this orphanage was recently remodeled and that quality things were happening for the children. A previous group had provided them with some current books on Down Syndrome which they were hoping to have translated. When we suggested they just use the internet and a translator site for current information, we were shocked to find that their was NO COMPUTER and INTERNET access at the orphanage. We take for granted that we can get whatever information we need at our fingertips, yet, the HEAD DOCTOR had no internet access!!! And I guess then, the individual living outside the city would have no access either!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

MIssion Trip and Conference Jan. 2011

I have so much to share about this trip that I needed time to process ( and get over the jetlag and exhauston)all the wonderful things that happened on this trip. I not only had a personal agenda, but also a group agenda and a conference to prepare for, so the week was extremely busy and the amazing thing, is that it all went off without a hitch!I arrived the day before the rest of our Mission group so that I could visit with Sasha and Olya Skripak, the Pastor and his wife from Almaz Church, the children and staff at Vorzel and friends whose child with DS was recently adopted and is in America. After visiting with the Skripak's we headed out to Vorzel where I met with Olga the head teacher and presented her with my favorite book 'Go Away Big Green Monster' which I had translated into Ukraine along with a activity related to the book for her to use with her groups. I thought this was a wonderful way to reach out and support her efforts to enhance the quality of the education for the children in her care. As a teacher, I did not see the quality of literacy/stories in the Ukraine as we have here in America and hope to change this by bringing good quality books (translated of course) for the orphanage children and staff.
That evening I was welcomed into the home of a family whom I had played a small role in helping their daughter with Down Syndrome find a family in America. I had previously 'blogged' about their situation in earlier posts. I was treated to a traditonal Ukrainian meal and was thankful that I could be there for them.

That night I met the rest of our Mission Team for the first time; Jane and Dave Daulton, from a Father's Heart, Inc., two amazing people who have adopted 7 children with Down Syndrome, Dr. Robert Rogan, a psychiatrist, Jan. B. a nurse, and Dr. Cindy Normandia, an Occupational Therapist.Together, with Sasha and Olya, we were committed to make a difference for the children with special needs and their families, both in the orphanages and at home.

The nest day, we rose early and boarded a train for Znamenka, a four hour ride. I have to admit, I was impressed with the train station and the train itself. Znamenka, is a Level Four Orpahange where many of the children from VOrzel could have been tranferred to, had they not been adopted. Ten years ago the Daulton's, had gone to Znamenka, and reported that then much of the building had no electricity or running water and they had returned on a few Humanitarian trips. They were so impressed to see the changes in the orphanage which had received help from a group in Belgium . I was delighted to see children actively engaged in therapies, educational and recreational activities. Yet I was saddened to see many children still lying in beds, blankets holding them down so they could not roll over, and no stimulation at all. Yes, the walls were brightly colored and some rooms had televisions, but some of these children spent years, lying in beds. Their bodies were stunted in growth and had we not seen adult teeth, sometimes two sets of teeth, in their mouths, or their names and birthdates on a card on the wall above them, we would have thought they toddler age or significantly younger then they really were. Two boys will forever be engraved in my heart. These boys were 27 and 24 years old, the age of my sons, yet their contorted bodies were the size of 6 year olds. They quivered and smiled as I stroked their hair; one clung to me as he 'softly cooed 'like a baby. To think that these boys were the ages of my sons and probally never left their beds; never went to school, never played with toys, never snowboarded, never went to the beach, never, never, never did anything my boys had done, left such a lump in my throat and a pain in my heart. Tatiana, the director, made so many positive changes for so many children, and Znamenka is now a 'model' orphanage, yet still the children suffer. Everywhere else in the orphanage, we saw happy children, smiling children, laughing and singing children. We met some older children, who made us wonder why they were ever placed there in the first place. One boy, made the most beautiful beaded flowers, a girl in a wheelchair did amazing embroidery, another drew pictures of a 'happy sunshine', a girl with neurofibromytosis, hid her face. Here in America, these young adults would be living on their own and gamefully employed and Sveta, would not have to hide her face as she would have received the medical treatment to remove the disfiguring growth from her face. She would not have to have live out her life in an institution hiding her face from the visitors and younger children!!What a shame, what a waste... yet fortunately for them, they know no other life so they are without bitterness and are content and even happy!

The Forgotten Children in Znamenka

Please look at these faces and remember them in your prayers. Help us to help them.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Preparing for the conference

Well, anyone who knows me, knows that I am the master procrastinator! So nothing is new in my preparation for the conference!  When you've been teaching and consulting in the field of Early Intervention for over 35 years, like I have, you know your subject material. However, presenting it , complete with Power Points and Handouts, all needing to be translated into Russian ahead of time,  can be overwhelming! Couple that with not being able to use examples from your current classroom, and not having a clue how to insert pictures and Youtube videos into a Power Point and you could imagine how "s t r e t c h e d " I feel.
I have been overwhelmed also by the generosity of complete strangers who have sent me toys, store cash cards, videos and pictures of their children to use and share for training puposes. I have multiple pieces of equipment to bring for Vorzel's Early Intervention Therapy Room and some specific children. I have received the generous donations of a child's treadmill and a Rifton Standing Table as well as Gait Trainers and walkers! As I am traveling a few days ahead of the other presenters I haven't a clue HOW I'll ever manage to get it all there on my own! Since my knee is bothering me, I may just use the largest walker for myself as I board the plane! Most importantly, I want to get the toys to the children! I am excited that I am also able to deliver to Anya and Hamilton, gifts from their Forever Families and share with the staff pictures and gifts from some of the other children who were adopted from Vorzel this past year! It's going to be a busy week for our Team as we prepare for the conference, visit with friends, and travel to Vorzel and Znamenka to visit a Level Four Orphanage! We also received an invitation to consult at another one who has had closed doors up to now! So, I ask you all for your prayers as we prepare to do what we can to make a difference! Please feel free to contact me via email or facebook if you want to know how you can be involved, or have any pictures and updates your children to pass on!