Showing posts from 2016

Mission to the Philippines

Unfortunately we’ve had to cancel our mission trip to the Philippines  (scheduled for March 10-25) The security risks have heightened beyond a point with which we are comfortable.  
Please join us in praying for Filipinos.
Chalice is hosting our 14th mission – and it will be our first one to the Philippines!  Please refer to the full mission details.
Mission dates are March 10-25 and will cost approx. $3,100 (including flights, ground transportation, accommodations, meals, and touring Palawan Island).  We’ll be visiting Chalice’s Tondo Sponsor Site, working alongside our partners, learning about their model for sustainable development, and building relationships with the families we serve and other Canadians with a heart for service.
Chalice has worked in the Philippines for 17 years, and this is our fourth year working in Tondo, the most densely populated district of Manila.  It is a vast emerging landfill, with almost 65% of its residents engaging in scavenging, garlic peeling, and odd jo…

Sunday, October 16 - Cañete, Peru

Hola querida familia y amigos!   First of all let me reassure you that we have all arrived safely and are doing very well here in Peru- demos gracias a Dios!  (Thanks be to God!)  Wow – is this ever an amazing adventure!  Our team of 23 members from all over Canada and our many hosts (from Peru and two from the US, doubling as translators), have been busy since the moment we said ‘yes’ to this mission – and life here is even busier!  Every day feels like two days! The people here gave us a phenomenal welcome Sunday night when we arrived in Cañete which really took many of us by surprise!  They must have spent more than the better part of a month preparing this celebration for us, which included singing both their national anthem and ours, as well as performing songs, skits and dances….and of course preparing a feast for us afterwards.  The celebration included many surprises for our team – some shocking, others leaving us very puzzled – and all of them leaving their mark on our hearts i…

Tears on the Road to Peru

What happens when you go up to people you know and ask, “Can you give me $10?”

“Ah, hang on a sec. Let me see,” they’ll say. Or they’ll stick their hand in their pocket, fumble for their wallet, or rummage through the contents of an oversize purse. They’ll scoop the coins from the bottom of the cup holder in their truck. They’ll do almost anything to help you out, and make sure you get at least $10.

Meanwhile, you stand there, grinning slightly, looking everywhere but at them scrounging for coins.
“Thanks,” you say, loading up your pockets. “I’m asking 100 people to do this. To give me $10.”

Math wheels calculate, and you hear them thinking, “That’s a thousand bucks! I should try that,” then they look at you again, and you hear them thinking, “Man, is she that broke?”

You let that idea sink in for 22 seconds. “I’m going on a humanitarian mission, to Peru. I’m trying to raise at least a thousand dollars. The money will go directly to helping these seriously impoverished people we’re g…

Join our Next Mission Team - in Peru!

Chalice's next mission will bring our team to Peru from October 15-23!  The cost is approx. $2,150 (including flights, ground transportation, accommodations and meals).  There is an optional tour at the end (inquire if you are interested).
We’ll be visiting our Cañete Sponsor Site, working alongside our partners, building relationships with the families we serve and other Canadians with a heart for service.  Our focus will be Works of Mercy.
Cañete is a town located 150 km south of the capital, Lima.  50% of the population are living in families who struggle daily with poverty, working as agricultural laborers in the nearby valley.  Issues like poor housing conditions, overcrowding, malnutrition, and lack of drinking water aggravate the living situation.  Sponsorship helps children, seniors, and families cover their basic needs of nutrition, education, health, hygiene, and clothing.  The Site also offers lunch for children and seniors in their comedor (soup kitchen) so that they …

Ukraine - Sponsorship Changes Lives

Before I came on this mission trip I had many questions. I had read that 92% of the money goes to the children, but was that true? Were the letters we receive from the children really their words or do adults write them? Are the children made to do these letters out of obligation or do they want to write them?
I am writing to tell you what I have seen and felt. The children truly receive what they need and more from the sponsorship money. This includes the basic needs of food, clothing, and school supplies (which they have already received for the next school year). Once a child is sponsored, the whole family is welcomed into the Chalice Family.  There are group activities for the children as well as adult education programs for guardians. The families work together to build community in their village and regional area. We saw how Chalice has provided new windows for homes and schools, playgrounds and music programs for children, and helped finance renovations in a children’s hospita…

Final Days at Ternopil Site

This week we travelled every day from Ternopil city to the village of Berezhany, where there is a sub site of the Ternopil Chalice Sponsor Site. We worked at the residential school for students who are physically or mentally challenged. Some children are orphans so will remain in care until age 18. Others just attend during the week. Although school was out for most students, those without families stay until July, so we were able to spend time with them. For July and most of August they are transferred to one of two other care facilities so that both they and the teachers have a break. During the tour from the principal, we saw the speech therapy room, the kitchen with new equipment, the carpentry room, 3 updated sewing machines and sports equipment – all donated by Chalice. 

The renovation of buildings is impressive. The boys' dormitory is already renewed, one in pink and another in green to create variety and brightness. They have sewn their own coverlets to match the decor.

In t…

Welcome to Berezhany

21 June, 2016

Today work begins in the boarding school in the small town of Berezhany, and the mission team is greeted with great enthusiasm, as has been the case in all towns and villages visited thus far. Once again, the team quickly breaks up into three groups to deliver addiction support training, first aid training, and to perform renovations in the school, which include grounds keeping, window washing and the painting of radiators.After a full day’s work, the team travels to the local cultural centre, where libraries and classrooms are visited.A consistent theme encountered repeatedly throughout our mission has been the emphasis on quality education for sponsored children and their communities.It is very clear that the Chalice staff here in the Ternopil site region as well as in the Pochaiv site region regard education as an essential and indispensable tool in helping children and families break the cycle of poverty.Judging by the successes and achievements of “graduates” of the s…

Food Glorious Food

My expectation of a mission trip was that I give the course requested and would eat very little.Not in Ukraine.I have received more than I have given and the food.Wow!

Families in Ukraine may not have much but they share and give from their hearts. Their gifts are often food grown and made with their own hands.
From the moment we touched down in Ukraine, we have been given food.Incredibly ornately decorated breads are given as a welcome gift for everyone to share.Each person takes a piece of bread and dips it in salt as a symbol of welcome and good health. Our team has had the pleasure of sharing several breads.Some families have given homemade fruit jams of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.These jams add to the beautiful taste of the breads.
Most of our meals have been a minimum of two courses (that is breakfast).Good wholesome fresh food that is simply and deliciously spiced would be the overall theme.Most meals include new potatoes of some sort. Other commonly served foods ar…

The Impact of the War

18 June, 2016

This morning we are greeted in the village of Holoby, and a large group of villagers invites us to their local auditorium for presentations and musical performances.The difficult conditions for the villagers are evident at every turn – most families live in cramped quarters in row houses or diminutive detached homes, with small gardens providing vegetables to sustain them.The fruits of the work of Chalice are equally clear – we are told that of the 462 students that attend school here, half are sponsored children.
About 300 people fill the auditorium, including many sponsored children and parents who tell their moving stories.Four mothers take the stage with their children, and relate the effect of the war of aggression in the east on their families.Irena tearfully tells of her son Andrij, a sponsored child for 10 years, who was taken into the army after he graduated school.On April 18, 2014, the village learned that Andrij had been captured, beaten, and executed by a firi…


19 June, 2016 Today we start a new journey as we head toward Ternopil region. First there are the many tears of a fond farewell. Our short time of joy and connectedness in "real" time was over. Now we will begin to rely on the many memories we have collected. The bus ride to our first site was long because of the care the driver, Stephan, took to get us there and a couple "pit stops". Roman, the Site Secretary, who was with us throughout our time at Pochaiv Site and stayed with us until we were safely transported to our new community.  When we reached Borshchiv, Roman shared with us a beautiful goodbye which he had written.  We were very moved by his words and hope to get a copy (translated into English, of course, as his notes were written in Ukrainian). In Borshchiv, we were greeted by Luba, director of the Ternopil Sponsor Site, Luba, the local Borshchiv sub-site director, and Ivan, a sub-site volunteer, by dancers in bright blue embroidered traditional clothing, …

Reflection from our Experience in Pochaiv - Відображення досвіду

Today I will watch the faces of those we encounter. There is great enthusiasm among the travellers and the community. We have been called to live in joy and that is my first impression of the day. Hugs say "thank you for coming" and "so glad to be here". Cheerful voices filled with laughter surround us as we move into the spaces we have chosen. I can see changes amongst the community, faces lit up with respect and appreciation. The travellers exchange glances and take note of the transformation. The spirit of love is hanging in the air and moves gently over our hearts as we laugh hard and then harder. How is it that these strangers in another land have found a bond that is unique to this experience? A connection of spirit, willingness to be selfless and yet feel selfish at the same time. We breathe in the challenges and breathe out the answering effort to connect with those who surround us. There are new faces and new names, every one wondering what is to come and …
Friday, June 17


Today we were instructed on how to make perogies. The ladies in the kitchen made the dough, rolled it out, and then punched out circles. A team of Canadians and translators then added the mixture of mashed potato, sauerkraut, and carrot, folded them into a crescent shape, and pressed the ends together. We were warned that they would "explode" in the pot if not secure and that would be upsetting to the cooks. We didn't hear if that happened. Afterward they were prepared for our lunch and served with sour cream.

The gym was a happening place for the young people to play indoor soccer. Matt and Michael and a mixed age group of children, both boys and girls. While they played we were able to clean up our workspace.

Saying Thank You

Then we prepared for the presentation of certificates for the HEAL program and the First Aid course. We set out the thank you gifts for the team from Ukraine. Both flags were on display to show the unity between the countries.…

Rokyni School

14 June, 2016
Upon entering the school in Rokyni, one cannot help but notice in the school lobby, a tableau with photos of local young men who have died in the conflicts in south-eastern Ukraine.The struggle for freedom from oppression and foreign occupation is sadly a persistent theme in Ukrainian history, and perhaps the dominant cause of the poverty we witness in villages such as Rokyni.In the school hallways and in each classroom, fire escape notices are displaced by instructions for what students are to do in case of an “event of war”.We are painting classroom tables and chairs today, and to retrieve some of the furniture to be restored, the head custodian takes us to the large bomb shelter in the basement of the school building.We are reminded repeatedly on this day of a great blessing we have and take for granted – living in peace, security, and safety – which is a privilege not afforded to the children of the Rokyni school.
15 June, 2016
This afternoon we participate in a small g…

Reflections on the past 3 days...

12 June, 2016

The Chalice Ukraine Mission Team touches down softly on the runway at Lviv International Airport as evening begins to settle on the horizon.The enthusiastic team members are greeted by an exuberant crowd of children singing songs and presenting them the traditional Ukrainian welcome of bread and salt.But an even greater surprise is in store for them – hidden from sight until the following day.Among the greeting party is Volodia – to all superficial appearances a 29-year old husband, father of two, and successful professional.Tomorrow it will be revealed that this well-spoken, thoughtful young man is none other than the little boy who came to the Chalice Lviv site as the first sponsored child in 1999, treading a path of hope to be followed by thousands after him.
13 June, 2016
Yet another hearty greeting awaits the Chalice Mission Team at the Pochaiv Sponsor Site in Lviv (the operational centre).Three mothers of sponsored children give stirring testimony to the powerful chan…

Meeting the Pochaiv Site Staff

Monday, June 13

Halyna, the Site Director for Chalice’s Pochaiv Sponsor Site in Ukraine, told us about the origins of Chalice, formerly Child Care International, in this country. Fr. Patrick Cosgrove, although a little dubious because Europe was always viewed as well-off, was challenged to consider this country for sponsorship. He talked with a local Orthodox priest, Fr. Eugene, and with the three heads together as well as Halyna's family in Canada, as the first sponsors, planted the seeds for an international community of mutual trust and love.

The first shoots of growth were Victoria, the translator, then Halya the accountant, along came Svitlana, a clothes designer who made embroidered coats for fundraising, and Natalia, the wife of Fr. Eugene. Over time the staff grew to 26 to accommodate the many families who joined the program. The office started with one sheet of paper, later with an old computer that was covered with a blanket to make sure it worked in the morning after cold…
We arrived at the airport to be met by a beautiful group of our Ukrainian Chalice family, went to a beautiful mass in a church built in the 1740s, had a delicious dinner, ventured out to the grocery store, and all promptly fell asleep. We'll have more photos to share about all of that... but for now, a photo of breakfast at Hotel Hetman will have to do. Now we're headed for the Chalice Pochaiv Office!

Hello from the air over Iceland

We are approaching daylight over the prime meridian. Each one is asleep, trying to sleep, or given up on sleep. The group had a quick meet at the airport in Toronto and then scattered to seats all over the plane. There will be one other to meet in Warsaw. And then we are off to L'viv, Ukraine.

I have wanted to make this journey for many years as I have watched a little boy of four grow up to be a young man. Then I chose to sponsor a little girl who is now reaching her preteen years. Indeed many of the travelers have great anticipation in meeting the families of "their kids"!

Of course, the team leaders have work plans for us. It is what makes a "service" trip a worthwhile event.  More to come in the days ahead. Theresa v. K.

Waiting to board the last segment of our flight from Warsaw to Lviv. We've since found Harry, and 5 more of our Canadian team await us in Lviv - not to mention all those from our Ukrainian team - here we come!

Chalice Volunteers soon headed to Ukraine!

A week from Sunday, our team of 19 will arrive in Lviv and our mission will officially begin.  But, really, our mission began many weeks ago.  We've been preparing with the usual things on any international travel checklist (passport, medical prep, packing culturally appropriate clothes, getting the house/work ready for our absence, reading up about our destination, even practicing some Ukrainian!), but we've *also* been working hard to meet our mission objectives:
Increase awareness about the difference sponsorship makes and commit as a group to inspire sponsors for 50 children in needCollectively raise $20,000 to support the communities visited (medical equipment, addictions support, and first aid)Pack donations in our suitcasesOnce we hit the ground June 12, we'll turn our attention to the other objectives:
Learn about the works of compassion at the Pochaiv and Ternopil Sponsor SitesGet to know our Ukrainian friends and colleaguesFacilitate training in Addictions Support …

Our Mission Impacts families in Abetenim, Ghana!

It's amazing to see how a "drop in the bucket" can ripple out --- especially when the drop is actually a huge SPLASH. Our "For the Girls!" Mission to Kenya was a huge success!  The coverage on CBC Radio has now spread the impact of the mission to families in Abetenim, Ghana... what a blessing!  (Read more here:

I am always amazed to see what can come from one person's "Yes".  On this mission, the "Yes" was resounding from 11 Canadian volunteers.  The women were linked by their involvement with Chalice, Days for Girls, and/or Enactus St. Mary's University.  I joined them as their mission coordinator, and was inspired by them each and every day.  And we were all blown away by the women and men we were blessed to work with each day - those who participated in our training, as well as those who work day in, day out in the surrounding communities.  We …

Saturday Awareness Day with Youth

This morning we travelled by bus for about 1/2 hour to the Chalice Ogwedi-Rafiki Sponsor Site, located in Asembo.  The plan here was to present, in separate groups, sex and hygiene education to approximately 100 boys and 100 girls.Following the education the boys were given a personal hygiene kit containing a pair of underwear, a facecloth, a Canadian flag and a pencil.*After their training, the girls each received a Days for Girls reusable menstrual kit.The reaction from both the boys and the girls was of sincere gratitude, with lots of smiles and giggles!

 While the groups attended their appropriate session, the remaining team members entertained the others with relay and other running games.All the children and young adults - especially the boys (even our Site Director, Jastus) - thoroughly enjoyed the games.