The Big Day in Chernihev

Thursday, June 23, 2016
Chernihiv, Ukraine
Today is the BIG DAY. It's the day around which this entire trip to Europe has been planned. The Twentieth Anniversary of the Revival Centre. It’s an emotional day for all the hard workers and people who have known each other for two decades. We’re in the mix of them as I have been involved with the founders of this center since before it opened.

I first heard about the founders of the Centre at the Feast of Tabernacles in the United Kingdom in 1995 when I met surgeon Maurice Frohn . He was also an elder in the United Church of God. At the minister’s dinner at the Feast we started talking. He was retiring as a surgeon. His specialty was thyroid cancer and he wanted to do some humanitarian work and was especially interested in the new heavily elevated thyroid cancer in Ukraine, particularly in the city of Chernihev located about 30 miles east of the ill-fated Chernobyl nuclear power plant. A radioactive iodide cloud passed over the city shortly after the accident and dropped its deadly load on the city. The city was unprotected from radioactive iodide which has a half-life of only eight days. If only the population had iodine pills that could have stemmed the negative effect of the radioactive iodide. Around the world where there are nuclear power plants local populations are often supplied with iodine pills in case an accident of this sort occurs. My friend Maurice Frohn was interviewed by London’s Daily Telegraph about this. 

When I first started visiting Chernihev in 1996 the city had Geiger counter device that resembled time and temperature displays . But, they announced microrads per hour. It told the city how much radiation the city was under. It wasn’t too long after the 1996 visit that the meters were taken out not to keep alarming the local population. Normal latent reading should be 15 microrads per hour. At the Chernobyl nuclear power plant the reading was 150 – ten times higher than normal. In Chernihev about 30 miles east the reading would be about 25-30.

In the morning Colin, Bev and I walked from Dr. P’s apartment to the Centre. It’s less than ten minute’s to walk.   Events start at 11 am when special guests such as the Ambassador of Great Britain, Provincial Governor, representatives from the Parliament and high ranking medical leaders will come by and recognize the work of the Centre and Dr. Pasichnyk. What a job he’s done!   

I walked around the Centre one more time stopping by Beverly Hall that was named after Beverly Kubik in her honor two years ago. LifeNets provided the financing for this facility for physical therapy, massage and exercise . We also stopped by the Choreographic Therapy hall that LifeNets funded in 2005 and there is a plaque recognizing the donors of that time. Both halls serve so sell and are bright and cheery environments for children’s therapy. Dr. P believes in multiple types of therapy in a cheery environment to bring positive results to helping disabled children.    

Anticipating either heat or rain, a tent-like shelter was provided by a local business for the guests attending the event. 

The Chernihev Province Governor Valerie Kulich arrived. Anticipation grows for the arrival of the Ambassador from the United Kingdom. SHE arrives. It is Judy Gough. She appears rather casual and very friendly. 

The program begins with short speeches praising the Centre and the visionaries and workers who have made this a top model Centre of 150 such rehabilitation centers for children in Ukraine . There are 150,000 disabled children in Ukraine with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Down’s Syndrome, mobility, mental, hearing, vision, speech and more problems. This centers handles all of these with multiple types of treatments from Dr. P’s staff.  

He and his wife Natalia run the Centre with extraordinary competence and vision. They expect others to share their vision and get with their program. Those who don’t are not welcome to be part of the team. Those with them, love him. You can see it in all the workers. Turnover of employees at the Centre is low. Most have worked there for more than ten years with some going back to the original staff of 25 from the beginning in 1996. There are now 160 employees in "Revival."  

Some speeches talk about all the unfortunate circumstances Ukraine has gone through with the nuclear disaster, economy and Russian agitation. Yet, there is a resoluteness to go on and be firm in determining their own course . While the hot war has ceased for the past two years, there is continuing harassment by sporadic shelling by the Russians. An average of three Ukrainian soldiers die daily.  

Judy Gough, the British Ambassador gives a wonderful speech talking about disability in her own family and her appreciation to be working in Ukraine. She has a three-year old daughter with her in Kiev. She is very intelligent and quick. Bev and I were privileged to speak with her at the reception following. She is a wonderful lady. She had previously been Ambassador to Georgia and lived in Tbilisi.

The Governor, Valerie Kulich also gave a very appreciated speech. The Center is widely known in not only the Chernihev province, but through all of Ukraine and officials speak very knowingly about it. He looks like New Jersey Chris Christie and has a smile similar to his, but is not as rough in his speech. 

One of the noted guests was red-haired Khakov geneticist, Elena Herechanina . She has been a wonderful consultant that has helped diagnose children with rare diseases and has become a great friend of the Centre.    

Part of the program was giving out special awards. Bev and I were privileged to receive one of the special awards from the Provincial Governor. We also received special recognition for working with the Chernobyl disaster by being given a 30 year medal stating “Service to Chernobyl.” This was done by Anatolij (can’t remember last name) from the Union of Chernobyl of Ukraine. He was talkative with us. He works with the Chernobyl firefighter veterans who worked to stop the burning at the plant. There were 17,500 from the Chernihev province and half have already died prematurely.

After the program that lasted about one and a half hours with more speeches by medical leaders from around Ukraine, we had a brief run through of some of the buildings for the benefit of the Ambassador. Then we took part in the “forchette”, which is an upscale buffet of finger food, champagne and wine . A few toasts follow, as usual.

Colin Kubik is continually taking photos. So many have come to me praising him and his one-year stay here in Chernihev. He really left a great mark in service, learning Russian as well as Ukrainian languages and having a big heart towards the kids and the staff.  

Some of the old city Council members came. We recognize each other from former trips here, fellow friends Volodymer and Oleh.   Both white-haired.  

Then Bev and I walked back to the apartment to rest a bit. A big evening is planned with a staff party and program. But, we needed some rest from the intense tempo of celebration. 

At 5 pm sharp we went back to the Center where another program began. First, the speeches that basically say the same thing over and over by various people. All want to say nice things and they are well-deserved, for sure .  

Then there was a variety show program! It was great. It was like Ambassador Bible College’s Variety Show at our annual fundraiser for LifeNets. One of the highlights was Colin Kubik’s Ukrainian dance with choreographer teacher Natasha. We witnessed and videoed it live.  

Then the staff put on a few numbers that were really entertaining and talented. Katya, the musician was a hit. 

Then there were more speeches. They included the group from the United Kingdom that has been working here for 20 years, as well, with convoy after convoy who spoke of humanitarian aid for the Centre and the Province. They are an amazing group of people who have done great things here. Some have made 40 trips to the area and have supplied so many needs that have been used so well.

We were asked to make short speeches as well…of course we did

In my speech, I recounted my many-years association with Dr. P and his wife Natalia. I said that I wanted to turn praise in another direction. I stated how it’s been Providential how we came together through a surgeon in the UK. Then coming to this area together and being here right at the right time to find ways to help. Then, finding ways to send containers to the Centre. I quoted how the Kingdom of God starts as a mustard seed and compared to how we started so small, it has grown to what it is today. I also quoted from Philippians how the work God begins He will finish, and I applied it to the Providential beginnings here and how it has been blessed. All the credits so far had been secular and that is OK, but I personally feel that aspects of our work were miraculous and helped by a Power bigger than us.  

The program went on for over 3 hours!

Then we went downstairs to the dining room where everyone feasted on more of the finger foods from earlier in the day and socialized . It was a lot of fun. Then we finally went to Dr. Pasichnyk’s office for tea.  

It was a big day. I was going to edit some videos, but was more tired than I realize and went to bed.

Tomorrow, we will go visit the Governor (the one who looks like Chris Christie) and then to the airport for Amsterdam.

One more thing. The Center here has been helping with children from the war-torn Donetsk and Lugansk regions that are under Russian occupation. There are currently 60 children (out of the 200) there now and more than 400 have been helped since the war a few years ago. I really applaud the work of the Center to help and share. 

Comments

gayle_hoefker
2016-06-29

So glad that you could use this opportunity to preach the gospel and to share with them where our blessings come from.

gayle_hoefker
2016-06-29

So glad that you could use this opportunity to preach the gospel and to share with them where our blessings come from.

2017-11-23