Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas in Ukraine

While New Years is the big holiday in Ukraine, the students celebrated Christmas Day together with the group home families at the new house.
I got a few photos from facebook, Maria tells me every two students worked together to make a dish for dinner, much like the Thanksgiving dinner in October.

 The students have not had classes for the last week, only regular work, the new students are starting to do morning milkings for the first time this past week during the almost month long holiday break.

 The first girls house has a large Christmas tree that they got from friends who were leaving Ukraine, and I found a photo of them decorating it. and some of them having fun trying on costumes for New Years.

Merry Christmas to all our friends  wherever you are in the world, and wishing everyone a happy new year...

  and maybe you'd like to come to Ukraine and help with a new house remodeling project this year?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy birthday Masha!

Well as you can see there was a party at our house after Garry left for Canada! It was Maria (Masha)'s birthday and everyone came to help her celebrate, looks like it was quite the party.
I talked with her and Julia after the party, and she said the students (the girls) were all sad that Garry left but they had seen how much he missed me, so they were happy for him. Maria will be staying at our house some of the time while we are gone, so the students will get paid and the cats will get fed!

Friday, December 11, 2015


The newest group home had a heating problem in October, it was getting colder and the gas was not hooked up to it yet. The house is so well insulated it wasn't a problem at first.  First we bought some little electric fan heaters, we got one for the classroom too. Had to replace one of those already, they aren't the best made heaters.

In the beginning of November it was decided to buy a little wood stove to heat it. They only start a fire in it in the evening, (often every other day) and the house is extremely warm. The group home parents didn't want to put it in the big room, because it was colder on their side of the house, so that's where it went, but the whole house is staying hot.  Garry tells me that they are getting closer to having gas this week, so they will finally be able to run the in floor heat that was put in and use the gas stove in the big kitchen, They have been cooking on their side of the house where we put a electric stove since moving in.
The fan is to move the hot air

The plan is to put a wood stove in the milkhouse connected to the classroom to heat it, but I don't know if they did it yet, .The other houses are heating with gas, the boys' house has good insulation in the main new part of the house, Garry is looking at insulating the attic of the first girls' house, since it seems to have none, and gas is much more expensive this year once you go over a minimal amount each month.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The container is here!

After eight months in transit, and more than a year in planning, the container has arrived from BC!

Everything in the container was donated or purchased to send to help with the set up of the new trade school barn by CRMF, packed and coordinated by Jack Stephanyk and his friends in BC, who have come with two work teams here in the last couple years.

For more photos of the unloading go to our other blog...

The container itself was donated by the Big Steel Box people. It has been waiting to clear customs in Kiev for months, after being stick in transit for a few weeks after arriving in Poland, where it was unloaded and inspected there, too. Some of the contents disappeared before Garry, Victor and Max went there Monday, after finally getting the phone call from the import company. This was the humanitarian organization import company that was found to work with the company in Canada. Importing this container was the main reason we left Word of Hope and formed Hope for Each as our Ukrainian humanitarian organization, because they were worried about possible problems with it.

Garry and Victor had to negotiate with the company in Kiev about what they would get for the 30% of the cargo promised to them for acting as our agent on Monday. and they got some of everything. Most importantly we got the farm equipment to use for the school farm, and even some stuff for the students, like winter coats, some mattresses and bicycles to ride to work (the girls from the far house need   want to learn how to ride them).

There are students wearing green ski school coats today to class, and we were able to use some stuff for the new Sasha who arrived yesterday. He is an 18 year old orphan and had been living under a bridge and in stairwells in Zaporosia for two years, collecting cardboard to sell (he could make 70 grivna a day doing that.)

Some of the clothes that were in the feed mixer
augurs and a hay elevator will make live easier for the students

tools for the work

Garry is really excited that the table saw made it, it will be so useful for next year's renovation project, there were so many things we could have used one for, but he couldn't even find a decent one to buy. Anyway, we are amazed "the box" finally made it here!  Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Problems and solutions

I realized all my posts here lately have been of the fun times. We don't want to you to think everything runs as smooth as clockwork working with our "graduated orphan" students (basically in Ukraine this means young adults who are out of the orphanages). Our work with them is very rewarding at times, and very frustrating at others.

So here are a few stories...

 Luba, or Lovie, who left once and then came back a week later, has left again, I believe we are still waiting for her to return to pick up her stuff at the new group home (I think I heard she was coming last week, but I heard that a few times already, so far she is a no show), She left for a visit with her foster family she lived with before going to the plastering trade school she attended before coming here and was convinced that they need her. This happened a week or two after attending her grandmother's funeral (the grandmother she lived with as a child, Luba was removed from her home with her at five and put in an orphanage, she told Garry she was the only person in her life that loved her,)

Anton, who starred in the television news story after being here for just a week at the end of September, left for the weekend two weeks later to go to his home village, saying he needed to go talk to the police about a gas station robbery that he was suspected in around the time he was in the video. We were able to get him on the phone the next week, and he promised to come back after helping with a job there, but he didn't show. A week later, he was in love, he needed to straighten things out with a girl he'd left behind there, but he'd come the next week.

 Still no Anton, or his twin brother who wanted to come when he first arrived. It was disappointing to lose him, he was a very hard worker and very good student. He reminded everyone of our Max Boradin, who is studying in Canada now, because he'd rather work than do anything else, he skipped out on fun trips but came on the farm tour we went on.

Two weeks ago we thought we had a replacement for Anton at the boys house, an 18 year old boy living on the street for the last two years, whose parents were dead. Our Canadian friends in Zaporozhye had been feeding him off and on for the last year, and he showed up one night when we were at their apartment for our weekly Bible study. They talked to him during the next week and Garry and Masha interviewed him as a prospective student and he agreed to come to the village. He was going to come that night, but decided he needed to sell his cardboard and bottles he had collected for money, Garry would pick him up at our friends apartment the next morning, He was a no show, and our friends have not seen him since. Masha says she assured him we weren't a cult. Maybe one of the street people he hangs out with convinced him we were trying to harvest his organs. Some of the students the first year of the trade school, including our Max Boradin, told us people warned them about the possibility.

Last week Friday, one of the boys celebrated his birthday, and one of the girls offered to work his evening milking for him as a gift. Unfortunately, he now looks upon it as a bad thing, because he got into trouble. He is a very personable guy, and has made friends in the village who invited him to the bar, where they convinced him he should have some drinks for his 21st birthday. He had several, and showed up very sad and drunk at our door at 12:30 am as I was heading to bed, asking to talk to Garry. He had been turned out of the group home, so we sent him to bed in the spare room. Garry woke him up at 7 am the next day, and put him to work, We thought we'd have to keep him, but he apologized and was allowed back at the boys house Sunday evening.

 However,  he is still regretting his breaking of the rules as he has gotten Garry's new punishment for students in trouble, and has had one week of everyday 5 am shifts done with another to go. Two of the students, one girl and one guy had a week of working together every morning after a fist fight in August, and they are both better at getting along and working hard in school and the barns since.

It is amazing to see how much our students from last year have changed and grown up, becoming more responsible this year, even with the occasional setback.
 At one of our staff meetings this year we all talked about how much Karina has changed, she has blossomed with the security of living in our "family" she likes to say that Garry and I are the Papa and Momma and they are the kids. Last year when she came she was afraid of the cows and now you'd never guess it. She is a hard worker, both our girls from last year can do anything the boys can milking and feeding cows. We are hoping that most of the second year students will be able to move into jobs and society at the end of the year with a little help.

Update- I wrote this post in the morning and by evening, things change. Lovie was supposed to come today, but missed the early afternoon mini bus to the village. They told her she could stay overnight, but she didn't take the late bus. Maybe tomorrow...

Our friends saw Sasha(its a popular name, we have one student Sasha already), the guy who almost came today, apparently he couldn't find his birth certificate, when he went to pick it up ten days ago, so went to his home village to look for it. Anyway, apparently he will come out the village on Wednesday to stay. He has no passport, which all Ukrainians over 16 have as a ID document. One of our boys here lost his passport before he came it us and Maria has spent several days over the last year trying to get him a new one. The problem with his is the fact that he is from Berdannsk, in the eastern part of the country, and now they say they have to go there to get one, after they were supposed to be able to do it in Zaporosia.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

English class fun

The students in the video are the second year students, the class I (Teresa) teach from four to five pm, for our four days every other week classes. This week we started with some Russian English vocabulary books, so we are back to doing greetings and polite phrases.

Last year one thing they all learned to say and memorized was a five minute filler phrase _How now brown cow? Which they quickly turned into red cow, black cow, and translated as how are you cor-rova (cow)? It's still a favorite phrase!

Monday Roma was back to work on the computers, now they are all working and can get on the WiFi.

Every week we provide water, tea bags and 1 kilogram of sugar for tea making ...the sugar lasts about two days because the students put so much sugar in their mugs. Like six teaspoons normally!

Once its gone, they have to buy some or drink it without, some day they will learn to ration.

  Unfortunately, every computer being able to get on the WiFi means everyone's smart phone (most of the kids have some kind of smart phone) can be on it too. Garry collects them when he sees them out and puts them in a drawer.

Garry and Masha are with the second year students from two until four in the afternoon, since they are learning different things than the new students

. In the mornings I start with the first year students at eight am and Garry and Masha are with them from nine to 11:30 am or so.

On the alternative weeks the group home parents teach the students in the mornings.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pizza night

I accidentally put this story on the other blog, so click over there to read it! Here's a couple more pictures of the fun Friday night.

I made 12 pizzas and there were about 14 people, ham and pineapple, hamburger and kolbassa, and various other toppings... olives, green peppers, mushrooms.

After eating we had a little fun trying to eat apples on a string.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Leila's birthday party

Leila, one of our first year students, turned 21 on Saturday. She was friends with our second year students, Yulia and Karina before they came here, so she lives with them at the girls house on the far side of the village.

Leila was deported this spring from Russia, where she had been living with her sister, who is a legal resident and works there. Leila is always early for work and class.  She has a great deep laugh, too.

 Luda and her daughter  Suesha, the group home family there, ma her party special, everyone was invited, and had to write a wish for Leila on a paper leaf, and read it to her before we went into the kitchen for open faced sandwiches and blini with meat or mushrooms, as you can see everything was lovely looking, and tasty, too. 

After eating (with so many people, some ate at the table and some in the living room)  we were invited to the living room for a special treat- the birthday girl sang some songs for us. She is a very good singer.

After three songs, we enjoyed playing a charade game. It was fun with some people guessing correctly often. If you guessed correctly then the previous actor told you what to do, so there was a lot of laughing.  Garry guessed correctly and did one, too.
Karina's turn 

I think Kolya's a mouse this time
Garry had returned from checking out the attic, and the answer was, yes, we need to insulate the attic at this house. With the rising price of gas for heating, we are checking into saving money, and Garry hopes to finish this and build two small bedrooms onto the front of the house for Luda's family this fall, so we will have two bedrooms to use for our girls there. Unlike the other houses, this one does not have a separate family area, just a bedroom for Luda, which will become a private sitting room that will be how they access the new bedrooms. The room that Suesha uses now will become a bedroom for the girls, so two bedrooms for girls will be off the living room in the photos.

After the charades, we were invited back to the kitchen for desserts, there were some delicious cakes, with hot tea and soda pop to drink.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Field trip- farm visit

We took a trip to a dairy farm on Tuesday with almost all of the students (the two girls who were left behind to work at the "new" farm were selected by not doing a good job the day before), Most of the students rode in Victor's blue van and we took three of the girls in our car. We picked up Maria in Zaporosia along the way, since the farm was located south of of there. It took about an hour and half to drive there.

The owner of the farm came to visit our farm/school after we were on television news a couple weeks ago (we have had a few people show up here since then, or even contact us on facebook) and invited us to come for a tour. He would like to hire one of the students right now to care for calves, but we decided that they should finish the program first. He said he knew which one he wanted, we are pretty sure it is one of two boys he talked to the day he came. The second year students will finish in the spring, so we are excited to think they will be able to find jobs!.

The tour

There were lab coats and booties to wear

 After they got into the protective booties and stuff, or most of the students anyway, we headed over to check out the silage pile. Then we walked past the big heifers, you will notice the farm has cattle with a lot of Simmental blood (a beefier breed) but has been breeding Holstein recently.

 The dry hay is chopped with the small yellow machine in the photo. The students were really interested in the vertical mixer, since we have one coming in the container from Canada (which we hope to get soon) Less wheelbarrow pushing in the future.
the feed mixer

 Some of the first year students were talking with Garry about cow confirmation while looking at the dry cows, since they are studying cattle judging in class now.

Most of the students were really interested in how the automatic manure  scrapers worked in the dairy barn, which we saw next. The calves were housed in the same barn.
What are the boys watching? where the manure goes to.

Then we saw the feed making building

 They have sheep "for amusement" he told me, he speaks some English. The students tried to got closer when they saw the sheep but they ran away fast when a dozen students rn toward them.

Run! They are chasing us!

I had been looking for sheep, since we'd started the tour,  I had spotted their manure scattered everywhere on the ground at the farm.

small heifer facility

We saw the shed with the small heifers and bulls and then toured the milking facilities before they finished milking the cows. They had two milk tanks (coolers) in the equipment room we saw first.

The students took turns going down into the milking parlor, while the rest waited in the corridor. Again, the students were interested to see it because this is much like what ours will be like once it is installed, now that we have electricity at the new barn.

 We checked out a barn they are currently working on renovating for milk and dry cows I think with calving pens on the side. Garry was interested in the the windowed roof gables they built into the old Soviet style barns, which brought in so much light.
everybody pose!

Then we headed into upstairs over the milk parlor to the office, where the students were very interested in the computer program they had for the cows, they promised to get Garry a copy it is free software in Russian but can change to English, he said.

I said that they were interested in the computer program...

Around four o'clock our hosts offered the students some refreshments, fifteen minutes later they were gone and we prepared to head home, as some of the students needed to be at work helping with the evening miolking by seven pm.

Garry, Maria and most of the students- two had walked to the gate already

and with our hosts