Friday, June 24, 2016
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Today is our last day in Ukraine. Bittersweet. Clearly, not enough time to be with our dear friends and so much of the time has been spent with public events with the celebration and commemoration. We enjoyed every bit of it. The Pasichnyk's are like family to us. They have shared their personal lives. Also, it was good to be here when Colin Kubik was still here and see his interaction with all the staff and the Pasichnyk’s who really love him. So many have come to me and told me how happy they were to meet him. Colin showed a genuine and sincere interest in Ukraine, the Centre and its mission in every way. He genuinely loves the kids. He had a good start by going to Vinogradov the summers before to get some experience in working with little kids.

But, it’s not over until you see the Governor .

Colin and I walked over to the Centre where we met with our entire group that was going over to meet the Governor. We were served breakfast in the Dr. P’s conference room.

The big news at the table is the results of Britain’s referendum to leave or stay in the EU. We have about six or seven from the United Kingdom at our table this morning (from other charities) and they are divided over the BREXIT issue. Some are adamant about wanting out of the EU. Much of the feeling is a reaction to the demands being placed on the UK to share the load with immigrants pouring into Europe with dubious future consequences. In London you can hardly hear the English language spoken. One of the workers commented how an elementary teacher friend of hers lamented that in her school there were 42 different languages spoken. Untenable.

Others commented that they needed to stay in the Union . United We Stand! They continued: "The next thing will be needing passports to visit Wales!" There is fear of uncertainty from the Middle East ....and Russia's new aggression in the name of Putin. There is fear of what the future will be for their grandchildren. 

The markets were betting that Britain would stay in the EU. But, today through the day the markets were plunging in the US and elsewhere on the news of uncertainty.

Well, it was time to go to the Governor’s office on the City Square, also called Red Square.  

We drove over in the Rotary-donated vehicle. By the way, we had wonderful Rotary participation at the events of the past days. The president of one of the Kiev Rotary clubs came as well as a former District Governor of the London District flew in. They were instrumental in acquiring this vehicle for the Centre which is VERY needed for transporting children to the Centre, which is mostly a place for children who need treatment during the day, but do not need to spend the night .  

Here is a word about the aid workers from the UK. They have done marvelous things, like taking many convoys overland from the United Kingdom to Ukraine. One couple has made 40 convoy trips from the UK to Ukraine bringing in tons of goods over the past twenty years. I believe that this was George and Marion. Another, Chris Brewer, is in the paint business. He has provided five tons of paint for the Centre. Then there’s Alain and Pauline, the talkative Theo Brewer from the Netherlands who now lives in the UK, and more. Their various charities that seem to work together. LifeNets is the sole representative from the United States and stands on its own.

The visit with the Governor is mostly ceremonial. It is vital, however, in establishing credibility, trust and hope for Dr. P. We all give our short speeches in the cavernous conference room with push to talk microphones at every seat. The interchange was interesting .

The Governor spoke of the war in Eastern Ukraine that continues. People are being killed daily with sniper fire and intermittent shelling to keep people agitated. The governor pointed out that 150 soldiers just from the Chernihev Province have been killed and that they are needing to provide support for the families left behind—often with 2-3 children. That's one of his priorities. He said that he is continually talking to families of those killed in the war. He asked for help for these families.  

He spoke about Ukraine's young government and it's 20 year old Constitution. He was confident of Ukraine's independent survival from the aggressive Russians. 
But, we need to get on the road to airport for our 1:40 pm flight from Kiev to Amsterdam.

Dr. P and Natalia hurry over to the apartment to say good-bye to Bev, who did the last minute packing for the flight . We really do have a great friendship. And, we say good-bye to Colin who has done splendidly over the past year. He wants to return to Ukraine to work in the Peace Corps, He was so loved by the Centre workers, the kids and the parents.

Slavik Mitoosh is our driver. There are still so many festivities with kids performances today. But, we could not stay…we must get to the Netherlands for the Sabbath and seeing our people there.

Slavik has pop Russian and Ukrainian tunes playing in the car that are enjoyable to listen to. It’s hard to get this kind of music in the US. I did get some from Valeria and Yulia Savicheva, but it’s not easy. He said he’d get me some for my playlists.

We got to Kiev two hours before the flight. Slavik asked if we wanted to "get to Kiev fast?" We told him to drive safely. We got to Kiev at noon, but found that our plane is delayed by three hours . The incoming crew did not have the required hours of rest. Arghh.. We wait, have a long lunch and sit around…writing and editing.  

There are no longer the several road blocks that we had to go through on our drive from Chernihev to Kiev. The police are now in the military and there are cameras monitoring the road. Actually, there's less corruption this way with cameras instead of policemen.

Finally we get off the ground at almost 6 pm. I sent a WhatsApp message to our host in the Netherlands that we would be arriving around 8 pm.  

We had an uneventful two and a half hour flight from Kiev to Amsterdam. Ron Dijkman was there to pick us up. We still had plenty of time to have dinner and fellowship at his home about 20 minutes from Schipol Airport. Going through Immigration and Customs was quick. The only thing that took a long time were the long corridors at the Amsterdam Airport, one of the biggest airports in the world.

We had a great time at the Dijkman’s home. He and his wife Linda have three little girls, the oldest being four-years-old. Also, their cousin Abigail was with them. They are originally from Surinam, former Dutch colony in South America. Linda prepared a meal of Suriname flavors. It was very tasty.

Then Ron Dijkman took us to the hotel at 10:30 pm.

A long, interesting and fun day!