UKRAINIAN ORTHODO CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
2012 Mission Team Concludes Its Visit to Puhachiv Orphanage!
Some 500 pounds of humanitarian aid and toys were delivered to the two Ukrainian orphanages sponsored by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, when the College Age Mission Team of Students of the Church landed in Kyiv Boryspil International Airport on Friday, August 3, 2012.
Following a day of recovery after the transatlantic flight, the Mission Team, under the spiritual guidance of His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA and Pani Olga Coffey – Team Leaders arrived to Puhachiv Children’s Orphanage in Zhytomyr Region of Ukraine. As the Team walked off the minivan, the children of the orphanages joyfully exclaimed: “We are here! Come and visit with us..!” And so, the Team did… For the next several days, the eleven members of this year’s Mission Team to Ukrainian Orphanages spent day after day playing with children, assisting with rehabilitation activities, sponsoring a trip to a local Zoo and a city of Korosten, the ancient settlement of Derewliany tribe of Kyivan Rus.
Visiting with the administration of the orphanage, particularly Ivan Hryhorovych Hulidov, who serves as a director of the orphanage for the last 15 years, the Team leaders were briefed about the successes of the Church-sponsored activities throughout the year, namely the work and ministry of Montessori School, which was built and dedicated last year with the participation of His Grace Bishop Daniel and 2011 Mission Team members.
The highlight of the visit was a visit to a newly constructed chapel on the premises of the orphanage. This sacred space was erected through the generous fundraising efforts of the clergy and faithful of Upstate New York Deanery, especially Very Rev. Fr. Mykola Krywonos. The chapel will be consecrated at a later day, once the final interior construction is completed and all sacred objects obtained. The chapel construction project is a new and unique approach of the administration of the orphanage and the efforts of the UOC of the USA to bring a holistic healing approach to the children of the orphanage. It is important to note that UOC of the USA has been sponsoring four teachers at this orphanage to learn about the spiritual, physical and mental healing/treatments through the educational efforts of “Dzherelo” Rehabilitation Center in Lviv, Ukraine.
As in the past, prior to the Teams’ departure from the orphanage, Vladyka Daniel served an abbreviated Holy Unction service, offering prayers for the health and wellbeing of the children and caregivers of Puhachiv orphanage. As the team departed, a spiritually uplifting words “Jesus, Remember Me, when You Come into Your Kingdom…”, chanted by the Team members remained as a reminder of our Lord’s love and the Mission Team’s presence in the hallways of the orphanage.
Puhachiv orphanage is located in the rural outskirts of Korosten town located in the Zhytomyr region and is home to 85 girls with special needs between the ages of 4-30 years. The orphanage is classified as an institution for children with most severe mental disabilities. While fifteen of the children are bedridden with multiple disabilities and are in need of constant special medical care or surgeries, diapers, and supplemental feeding, the majority of the children can walk or crawl and use wheelchairs. Due to the children’s mental state, the work of the caregivers is crucial. Namely the above mentioned projects were on the list “to do” for this year’s Mission Team under the spiritual leadership of His Grace Bishop Daniel and a Team leader Olga Coffee.
On Thursday, August 8, 2012, the Mission Team of College Students of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA returned to Kyiv in order to prepare its way for their missionary efforts in Znamyanka orphanage, located in the Kirovohrad region, which hosts up to 120 children between the ages of 4-22 with special needs.
This year’s team in comprised of: Subdeacon Vasyl Pasakas (St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary; South Bound Brook, NJ), Melania Panasiuk (St. Vladimir Ukrainian orthodox Cathedral; Philadelphia, PA), Krista Ulbright (Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Youngstown, OH), Sandro Gomartelli and Eugene Hobza (Holy Dormition (St. Mary) Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Jones, OK), Alexandra Teper (Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Jamaica Plain, MA), John Siwko (St. Andrew the First-Called Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church; South Bound Brook, NJ), Britney Wanek (Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Palos Park, IL) and Hunter Steltenpohl (St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Arden Hills, MN).