I love it when a plan comes together! For a long time we have been hoping to distribute wheelchairs into the East of Ukraine. I went in November and again in May trying to find volunteers and get them ready to go and do this distribution, and finally it happened! It took a lot of hard work by our staff, but they made it happen. We took around 30 wheelchairs and made the long journey to Slovansk, a city formerly occupied by Russian Separatists.
In the first city we delivered 9 wheelchairs, and met some really incredible people. The first was a young man named Victor, with Cerebral Palsy, who had one hand that he was able to use. We gave him a wheelchair that had controls on just one side. He was so happy to receive the wheelchair. We talked for some time, he loves to do cross stitching, and he showed us some of the work he had done, all with one hand, it is amazing. Plase pray for him, even with the controls on one side, it is a struggle for him to move around on his own. He is practicing hard.
Our last delivery of the day was out in one of the villages near the city of Svetagorvsk. There we met a young girl Masha, who was lying out on a swing, under some blankets. She has CP, and also had a problem with her hip. She is bedridden and can’t sit up at all. She needed a wheelchair that reclines. She needs an operation on her hip, but they don’t do this operation in Ukraine, she would need to go to somewhere like Germany or Israel. We gave her a new wheelchair, but it was heartbreaking, because I know there is still much more that this family needs. Masha is an incredibly sweet girl who shared with me all about her favorite cartoons, films, music and more.
Overall, on this day in Slovansk we met a lot of children. Children who I would love to have to come to our camp for children with special needs. It is nearly an 11 hour drive from Slovansk to our city, so transportation is a challenge, but we met some really great young kids.
The next day we were in Kramatorvsk, a city of 160,000 people. We delivered 18 wheelchairs. Valodia, who is the head of a charity in Eastern Ukraine, helped organize the distribution. He had taken measurements for everyone, and had a driver who already knew the location of every house. It was one of the most well organized distributions we have ever had. Two volunteers from the local church went along on the distribution to offer prayer for every family and offer them a New Testament. Even the local newspaper came and wrote about what we were doing in the city.
The best part is they were already assembling a new list of more people in need of wheelchairs to do another distribution soon. On this trip we were training them to do the distribution on their own, so I’m very pleased with how they did. We look forward to working more with these cities in the future.
Another interesting development, was we met a pastor from Donetsk, who has a church actively meeting in this area. They hold services in the street because their church is currently occupied by soldiers. Donetsk in under separatist control and we have been looking for churches that would be able to do distributions in the occupied territory. There are a lot of hurdles we have to clear to be able to do this, but God can open any door, so please be praying for us that we can get wheelchairs into the occupied region soon.
Finally, I have to say that our staff who goes to do these distributions across Ukraine does a wonderful job. Tanya, who is in charge of our wheelchair distribution made everything work out, even when we ran into various challenges, like wrong measurements, or people not being able to make it to the distribution site. Ruslan, one of our workers from the Boy’s House, did a fantastic job, fitting the wheelchairs to everyone and explaining how to use them. And finally, Alexie our repair center manager drove the van and helped prepare every wheelchair to be transported, and made sure we had the correct wheelchairs for every person.
I’m so proud of our staff and the work they do, and so blessed to be a part of this ministry. Nearly 30 people now have wheelchairs in the East of Ukraine and we hope to see that number grow because we know the need is huge.
In other God’s Hidden Treasures news, our summer camp starts this weekend. Please pray for the American team coming, for all the children to arrive safely at camp and that everything would go fantastically.