Showing posts from June, 2016

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

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 achi

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 so

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,


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 tra

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 com
Friday, June 17 Perogies 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 uni

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

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

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 aft
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 need Collectively raise $20,000 to support the communities visited (medical equipment, addictions support, and first aid) Pack donations in our suitcases Once 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 Sites Get to know our Ukrainian friends and colleagues Facilitate training in