Travel Report – Winter 2006
The winter of 2006, a most brutal one, brought much, snow, sleet, hail, and Floridian Rich Fillmon to Ukraine. The journey began Jan. 18, arriving in Ukraine to blizzard conditions I traveled with His Kids, Too! board members, Lynn and Ray. After 2 days of travel, I arrived in Dzerzhinsk. The roads were so bad that the driver could not take us down the street to the house, and we were forced to walk 300 yards. through 3 ft. of snow.
The purpose of this trip was to work with the church in Dzerzhinsk, distribute thousands of pounds of aid to orphans, and finalize the plans for the spring workshop. We encourage you to review the photos in the Photo Gallery. There are not a lot, due to the freezing temps, the camera froze several times, but I was able to ‘capture’ the essence of his trip.
First stop was the Dzerzhinsk Internot where the director warmly welcomed us. The children were thrilled to see us, as this is where the annual Bible camp is held, and the kids all love to see us. Sound Bible teaching, and genuine love for the children is evident in their response to this visitor. They had a small group for church, as most of the children were in homes, trying to stay warm, as the pipes froze at the school/orphanage. Returning the next day, we took several boxes of clothing, and purchased fruit for the Go Bananas for Orphans program. These children receive weekly fruit, because of the efforts of Kristy C. in Valdosta, GA and the great students at Lowndes Co. High School. We gave the kids a ‘belated’ Christmas celebration 4 kilos oranges, 4 kilos bananas (fruit was difficult to find at the market), cookies, candy, homemade lemonade (which was a big hit with the kids), composition books, and boxes of pencils (thanks to Hania Little), and little toy gifts for each child. We are so happy to report that this internot facility made it to the city playoffs in basketball! A huge accomplishment for an orphanage facility, and we are very proud of the boys. The coach had requested one thing, a leather basketball. While we were in Donetsk we made this purchase. After returning to Dzerzhinsk, we were able to present the gift to the coach, who was speechless! He stated that the regular school receives all the really great equipment, and the Internot’s get the leftovers. His Kids, Too! is going to work on changing that. We hope that you will help! Additionally, several VHS tapes (in Russian) were left for the kids.
The next stop was the ‘New York’ Internot, where the pipes had also frozen and blizzard conditions, so there were only 40 kids there. They received bananas, oranges, tangerines, cookies, candy and lemonade, all was a big hit! The kids also received 4 large boxes containing an assortment of clothing, shoes, (thank you Buckner International) and toiletries. This facility will be home to His Kids, Too! first Bible Camp, and they are waiting with great expectation for the summer to arrive.
To round out the aid to the village of Dzerzhinsk, we made a visit to the Artum Orphan Hospital. They were delighted to see us, and happy with the boxes of baby clothes (thank you Neve and Friends), toys, and asked for a couple of needed items (scales and potties). We were able to fill that request, and later returned with those items.
Getting to Donetsk was the next challenge due to the weather. We had at a minimum 700+ lbs. of humanitarian aid to get there, but road conditions were impassable. We waited a day and sorted more aid, and prepared for the trip. It was important to be organized on the delivery stops on the way to Donetsk, while we had a driver and a big enough vehicle to take boxes. Due to the weather, many drivers just refused to work, in addition to the high fuel costs. One had to ‘book’ a driver days in advance. As we left for Donetsk, we made several stops along the way to drop off aid to different places and families that His Kids, Too! serves.
Arriving in Donetsk, the first stop was Our Children. The director, a very pleasant person, was happy to see us, and 3 huge boxes of aid were left at this facility. Additionally, Lynn and Ray, the board members who live in Ukraine, met us. We were allowed to interact with several of the children, and dressed them in new clothes, and presented many new toys to them.
The next stop was the Teremok Orthopedic Hospital. The director, a totally delightful woman, was happy to see us, though surprised, since it is usually Teresa that travels. They currently have 57 children, but that number fluctuates. Vitamins were requested and purchased for the facility, along with requested fever reducer (which we had already). Discussion on the plight of CP children and adults ensued, as the director has full knowledge of this topic. She was able to shed some light on this, which gave us a greater understanding of the urgency of making some decisions concerning our future role with this population. Two large boxes of winter clothing, along with one box of toys were left with this facility.
After some rest, the next stop was the local Homeless Shelter/Transition Home for ex-convicts, and adults living on the street. Greeted by the director, he gave a full tour of the facility to us. The director was very open about the facility, their mission to the community, and was clear to state that their facility was the only one of it’s kind in the region. They were able to feed and sleep 30 persons, but with some renovations (His Kids, Too! was able to help with mattresses and bed linens), they now can help 50 persons. He was very gracious and happy to receive 3 large boxes of adult men’s winter clothing.
Moving on, the next stop was the Homeless Children’s Shelter. This facility usually home to 75 children, but due to the harsh winter 150 children were seeking refuge at the facility. They were packed, and happy to receive the 4 large boxes of winter clothing. We thank Glendale Rd. Church of Christ for the great winter coats.
The final stop for this day was the Aids Hospital, where His Kids, Too! is well known. The Director and head Dr. were happy to see the group, and graciously toured the facility with them, allowing for lots of photos. The hospital was almost at max. capacity of 85, 14 of the children have confirmed Aids, the rest are in the testing process to determine a diagnosis. Obvious signs of aid left by His Kids, Too! on previous visits were evident, crib mobiles, blankets, clothing, toys, the children were happy and are well cared for. Diapers were requested, and immediately purchased and sent to the facility.
Returning to Dzerzhinsk, the trip was coming to an end, but the snow was still coming down! Each facility received another visit, delivering requested items that were purchased in Donetsk. Each time, we were warmly greeted, and encouraged by the enthusiasm of the children. On each visit more fruit, cookies, and juice were distributed to the children. The winter was very harsh, and many children are sick with colds, fever, respiratory infections, etc.
This trip also was the beginning of a pilot program for orphans. We are excited about this program, and will provide more details as the program develops. The main goal is an effort to keep children out of the Specialized Children’s home, and the Invalid Homes. The city of Dzerzhinsk is embracing this program, and we are happy to provide the service to the community and children.
Plans were finalized for the Spring workshop and plans for the Summer Camp were formulated. Wehn Teresa comes in Spring, all this will be completed. Thank you again for your prayers, concerns, and commitment to the orphans in Ukraine, without your help we could not do this vital work of reaching the lost for Christ. We are all called to ‘go’ (Matthew 28:18) some go to the store and purchase items to be sent to Ukraine, some are called to organize collection of clothing, some write a check to help someone else ‘go’, or to help with the work there, some pray for those who do ‘go’, some pray for the orphans, and some travel thousands of miles and ‘go’ to Ukraine. All equally important, and we all play a role in the great commission. Thank you!
In His Service,
Director of Communications/His Kids, Too!