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 group meeting with staff and children of the Rokyni school. The students are bright, energetic, and enthusiastic pupils, eager to acquire knowledge and to set forth on the path of their adult lives and careers. Each of the high school students shares his or her dreams and aspirations for a successful future – as translators, computer programmers, chemists, teachers, etc. Their circumstances, and the limitations of their educational materials, do not diminish their hope. We clearly see the dedication and commitment of the teachers at the school to the welfare of the students, and the respect and gratitude the students show in return.
16 June, 2016
Today a press conference has been organized to allow local journalists to witness the work being performed by Chalice on the mission, and to allow interaction of the press with the mission leaders and team. In attendance at the conference is the local Ukrainian Catholic priest, as well as the local Orthodox priest, who is also participating in the Chalice training for addictions support. The Chalice lead team explains the philosophy and goals of Chalice as well as this particular mission, and after the conference, the journalists fan out through classrooms and school grounds where work is being performed, to conduct interviews with team members. Media members comment repeatedly to the Chalice team that what they are witnessing is unique and unprecedented in their experience – a true phenomenon.