Service Projects to help Ukraine
The National Executive wanted to continue our service projects with Ukraine after a successful outcome for the Help Us Help the Children boots and shoes collection in 2016-2017. We researched several Ukrainian Initiatives and were considering an enterprise that could assist Ukraine and be participated by all our CYMKivtsi, through all locals around Canada.
Following the Revolution of Dignity 2013-2014, the fierce battle for Ukrainian Independence and Statehood continues, as the 5th year comes to a close where Ukraine’s armed forces continue to hold the line against Russia and its proxies who have invaded Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Ukraine’s favorite sons and daughters continue to be shot at, wounded and killed by Russian artillery and destructive weaponry, standing firm against the Muscovite aggressors. Ukraine’s bravest continue to return from the battlefield maimed or worse.
Staff and members of Ukrainian Credit Union Limited, along with conscientious patriots in the Ukrainian community, have been raising funds to help Ukraine’s wounded soldiers who suffered serious injury withstanding the Russian aggressor on the front lines of Ukraine’s battle for independence through the “UCU Helps Ukraine” Unbroken Blossoms Project. This is an strategy that works with injured Ukrainian soldiers who are in need of medical assistance and rehabilitation after being injured in the Euro-maiden, Crimean revolution, and other combat happening in Eastern Ukraine.
Former National CYMK-UOY President Liza Zienchuk has recommended this Project as her father, Michael Zienchuk, remains on the committee and has been a beneficial contact. Tanya Buciora, our current National CYMK-UOY President, has personally visited some of these rehabilitation centers in Ukraine, and the Toronto Local have spent some time with the soldiers at a Blue Jays game a few summers ago. It has come to the National CYMK’s attention that they could significantly benefit from our assistance.
Throughout the year of 2018 and 2019, the CYMKivtsi across Canada have been working on collecting funds for this project. Collectively, the CYMKivtsi raised $2929 for this project.
We thank everyone who participated and donated generously to this worthwhile needed cause. Despite the distances between Ukraine and Canada, we feel proud to acknowledge that in this diaspora, within the Canadian Ukrainian community, we are aware of our roots in heritage, and we are connected and bonded by a common goal. We find it necessary to help our motherland as they still struggle to survive the persecution of Russian aggression. Our Ukrainian Orthodox youth programs are flourishing, as we continue to educated the Ukrainian youth how strong the Ukrainian culture has developed on a global platform.
The UCU Helps Ukraine Unbroken Blossoms Project have compiled a list of soldiers that need acute and critical medical assistance. Whenever there is a quantity of sufficient donations, this is used to cover the medical cost of healing a solider both physically, mentally, and spiritually. We have since received word that our donation was enough to completely cover the cost a critically injured solider, a 24-year-old from the Nikolaev village, named Alexander Bespalov. He is an orphan who devoted his life to Ukraine’s military actions. Three weeks before his wedding to Ania, he was shot through the right eye during combat. The extent of his injuries included the loss of his right eye, brain damage, spinal damage; this left him in a coma fighting for his life. When he was able to wake up and communicate with everyone around him, Ania told him she was pregnant and the decision was made for him to marry the love of his life in his hospital bed. During his fight for survival, the money that was raised through CYMK nationally, was sent and used for his surgery, and will continue to assist with medication and rehabilitation towards his recovery. Both Alexander and Ania are very thankful for our donations. They have sent us a signed Ukrainian flag along with the following message:
“Дорогі Українці в Канаді, члени СУМК. Я Олександр Беспалов, боєць 79 ДШБр, отримав 27 липня 2019 року у Львівському Військовому Госпіталю кошти в сумі $2929.00 канадських доларів, за що вам дуже вдячний. Нам ті кошти дуже допоможуть на лікування і реабілітацію і на протез ока. Захоплює те, що люди, які живуть далеко за океаном переймаюються долею поранених україньких бійців. Щиро дякую. Слава Україні!!”
“Dear Ukrainians in Canada, members of CYMK. I, Alexander Bespalov, a fighter of the 79 DSBR, received $ 2929.00 in Canadian Hospital on July 27, 2019, for which we are very grateful. For us, those funds will greatly help for treatment and rehabilitation and for the prosthesis of the eye. It is fascinating that people living far beyond the ocean are concerned about the fate of wounded Ukrainian soldiers. Thank you. Glory to Ukraine!!”
The footage of his recovery has already been showcased on broadcasts around Ukraine, and will also be available to us for our perusal. Just hearing how our donations are able to help one should make us humble and gratified that we have been a part of this process.
Attached is a link to more information about his story: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2363544163859275
The newest edition of the Успенська Вежа newspaper, published by the Dormition Brotherhood in L’viv features an interview done with the National CYMK President Tanya Buciora during her Orphanage Trip to Ukraine.
CYMK and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada and its youth are being recognized in Ukraine!
Take a look:
Eastern Eparchy Orphanage Mission Trip / Поїздка до Сиріт Східної Єпархії 2018 – 2019
Ever since I was young, coming to church on Sundays and being introduced to the Ukrainian Youth Organization; CYMK-UOY, I have heard about the Orphanage Mission Trip through many former CYMKivtsi who had travelled with this mission trip. These individuals have been role-models to me for many years, teaching me the importance of religion, faith, culture, and our association with youth, not only from our Ukrainian Orthodox realm, but with individuals of all backgrounds and experiences.
Fifteen years later, having gained more understanding and practice within society, our church St. Demetrius, and its youthful organization, I am now proud to call myself the National CYMK-UOY President. I have met with youth from all around Canada, within many different parishes, trying to spread the leadership skills that my former CYMK-UOY Executives and parishioners have taught me. Through my Ukrainian culture, being a Ukrainian dancer with the Barvinok Ukrainian Dance School, traveling the world and showcasing Ukrainian music, song, dance, and art, and studying Criminology and Sociology as a Specialist at the University of Toronto, made me realize how important partaking in social events really is. I have had a chance to meet with ATO Soldiers in Rehab and am currently working with female prisoners at a maximum security Federal Prison. But the area at the top of my bucket list, the Orphanage Mission Trip, was still awaiting to be crossed off. As stated by David J. Kirk,
“People always ask me that, how it feels to be an orphan. I don’t know. I want to ask them how it feels to have a family.”
This is a very noteworthy quotation. As a National CYMK-UOY President, I am also proud to affirm that our CYMK locals have donated to the Orphanages in Ukraine, alongside their Local parishes. Collections from their caroling and monthly activities, as well as the Help Us Help the Children Charity, where we were able to send many shoes and boots to those children in need. Thus, in this way, we not only focus on family within the home and church, but also contribute to our families abroad in Ukraine. Taking this opportunity to attend the Orphanage Mission trip has always been a dream of mine. I have always wanted to visit these facilities to thank those who spend their days caring for the children in need, but also to meet the youth we have been aiming to help for all these years, to make them smile, to embrace and protect them so they feel the warmth of Ukrainian love, and most importantly to notify them that they are not alone. That they have a large family of Ukrainian Orthodox youth in Canada that are there for them, love them, and are always thinking about them. I have heard many great accounts of narratives of this trip, the experiences it allows you to fulfill, and the lessons it teaches you.
This trip would allow me to learn about this inspirational and motivational group of youth. As a studying Sociologist and Ukrainian Orthodox Youth president, I would be able to take my involvement during this Mission Trip and share the experiences to all other Ukrainian Orthodox Youth in Canada as a workshop for the Next SUS Convention. It is very meaningful and beneficial for all of our Youth to understand their assistance and efforts of their fundraisers for the Orphans, and for our youth to be represented during this trip. It would assist me with personally spreading the knowledge and awareness this trip brings to our newest CYMKivtsi, just like my former Executives, who undertook this same trip, did to me. Well, in December 2018, with the assistance of many donations from UWAC – the Ukrainian Women’s Association of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Church, TYC - Ukrainian Self-Reliance Association of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Senior Long-Branch CYMK – Ukrainian Orthodox Youth of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Parish Council of the St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and other individual’s generous donations, this trip became possible and I am here to recount the experiences and lessons. I would first like to take this time to thank each and every one of these organizations and individuals who had assisted me to make this trip possible. The generosity, trust, and assistance makes my heart warm and my soul spiritually fulfilled. “Giving is not just about making a donation; it’s about making a difference” (Kathy Calvin), and we continue to do this through our charitableness and connectivity to Ukraine. From December 27th 2018 through January 4th 2019, I was accompanied by Fr. Bohdan Hladio from Oshawa, Fr. Lubomyr Hluchaniuk of Hamilton, Marta Strelchuk – parishioner from Oshawa (whom I have become close friends with), and later joined by Mykola Derevynsky of London, England (whom became our driver), and His Grace, Bishop Andriy of the Eastern Eparchy.
How my days looked like...
December 27, 2018.
After celebrating the past days spending Christmas with my immediate family, I was on a mission, with this welcoming group, to meet our Ukrainian youth who do not have this possibility. Arriving in my motherland Ukraine after a long journey, I was passionate, but also apprehensive as to what this new chapter would hold. Although I am aware that through one written report, it is almost impossible to recount the internal feelings and details a mission trip such as this one brings with it, there are enough messages worthy of books to share.
December 28, 2018.
On this day, I was set to visit our first facility of the mission trip, the Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre in L’viv. I was greeted by many of the warmhearted staff within the rehab, who work day and night to provide safe and comfortable surroundings for their youth. We were also greeted by the parents of some of the youth that are ailing within this rehab centre. But most extensively, we were welcomed by some of the disabled and weakened youth, confined to their wheel-chairs smiling and reaching out to us. I was inspired by this large facility and family, centered in the heart of one of Ukraine’s largest cities. According to the Dzherelo mission, they “Operate as an independent rehabilitation facility. Dzherelo Centre is committed to consultation, rehabilitation treatment, education and counseling of both children with disabilities and their families” (Children of Chernobyl Canadian Fund, 2019). Their vision “is one in which children with disabilities in Ukraine are given the opportunity to realize their fullest potential, both physically and intellectually, in a society that accepts as well as respects, their rights and appreciates their unique gifts” (Children of Chernobyl Canadian Fund, 2019).
The youth are mentally and physically ill, attempting to recondition themselves to become better able. These youth work alongside doctors, professionals, educators, and their parents. They have a strong support group assisting them with their daily obstacles and struggles. They are strong, smiling and fighting to hold their presented icons, stand for photographs, and prove to themselves that rehabilitation is possible. Dzherelo is a facility filled with pride, care, and inspiration. It hosts over 2,000 disabled youth. Analyzing our large Ukrainian cities like L’viv, the home of Dzherelo, for all of us who have toured the streets, we are aware that the street’s underpass infrastructure, the old cobble pathways, roads and trails, even building entranceways make for a harsher lifestyle for our Ukrainian disabled youth. Knowing that a facility such as this one exists, benefits and helps comfort these youth towards a recovering pathway, is definitely something we should take pride in.
Escorted by staff, walking through the Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre in L’viv, the many classrooms and play areas; the rows of wheelchairs and disability equipment is very visible. However, all of this equipment and this large amount of handicapped youth takes time, staff, and financial assistance to manage. Being a member of the UOCC – The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, I am proud to attest that we were able to donate $10,000 to Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre to provide material and monetary aid for assistance and maintenance. The large amount of youth in need at the Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre, the most wonderful staff, the anxious parents, the many volunteers, the large needed facility, and all of the resources and special equipment is all real, and with our support, an organization, such as this one, is able to prosper, excel, and continue its necessary non-for-profit work. I am pleased to showcase the following: the organization’s team is appreciative to display all of their sponsors on a large wall upon entering; A large tree, filled with leaves of sponsors. The Leaf of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Toronto, hangs amongst those leaves. In other words, the meaning of this honorary action provides an understanding that we are on the same righteous path that the Good Samaritan was on, as outlined in the Gospel of Luke.
December 29, 2018.
The day that changed me and had the greatest impact on me mentally. The day I will never forget. Following my visit to Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre, I was already feeling involved and educated, however, the feeling I got on December 29, 2018 is one I cannot fully describe in words. The Bukovo Orphanage in the Staryj Sambir Region. The day began with an unexpected 3-hour drive on the uneven Ukrainian roads through a forest. Upon arrival I was greeted by 2 young girls waiting outside the car door. Walking out of the car, I could feel my hand automatically touching theirs, and so the hugging began. I met the new manager, a very young man, of the facility who could be heralded a saint for the job he took upon himself.
This facility holds over one hundred female orphans, segregated in different age groups from young to adult. All of these individuals have severe mental disorders, ranging from neurological dysfunctions such as blindness, deafness, inability to speak, to psychological disorders such as schizophrenia, downs syndrome, and bipolar disorders, to physical disorders such as arm, leg, and body deformities. Their common denominator is that, despite their disabilities, they have been taught to love God and practice their religious faith. My expectation was to see healthy orphan children, but I was not expecting to see individuals of this age group in the Bukovo Orphanage in such a poor cognitive and depressed state. The sentimentality of this experience continues to tug at my heart strings with great sorrow.
The overwhelming awareness that was brought to the forefront of this challenge was that these girls need humanitarian interaction and touch. They love to be near people. We brought many gifts, chocolates and candy to hand out during the Christmas season, however, these females were not focused on the material gifts. Their wish was to hold on to any extremity that they could grab from my body. They wanted to hug, touch, kiss, and hold hands. From these findings, it is paramount to stream people to this orphanage who are willing and able to spend voluntary time and give their assistance.
Thankfully due to the donations of the Eastern Eparchy of Canada, this facility is well maintained, constructed, and managed. The Bukovo Orphanage has on site a farm where orphans and volunteers are able to grow their own produce, interact with the animals, they have access to a kitchen, a school, a beautiful playground and gym, a chapel, and bedrooms. These orphans have a creativity factor. For example, one young female, almost completely blind, is still able to practice the painting with a stippling method of Iconography. With immaculate attention to detail her Icons are on display around the orphanage and within the orphanage chapel. The purpose of the visit to this facility was not only to meet and brings gifts and donations to the orphans, but for His Grace, Bishop Andriy, to bless the newly renovated Bukovo building. The new annex that was built, is entirely funded by donations from the Ukrainian Canadian Eastern Eparchy. This building will be the new home for several of the teenage abled female orphans. They were so grateful, these females put on a wonderful performance, with embroidery, song, and dance. This building is being furnished in stages and this is an ongoing process. Some comfortable beds and warm linens are already in use in the bedrooms of this new building.
I was humbled to hear these special orphans giving us their best wishes as we departed, telling us that we must always ‘hold our head up high’ and smile at every opportunity, and be thankful to have what we have or what we don’t have. Instead of us giving to them, they seemed to be giving more back to us with their words and praises. This made me feel very blessed to comprehend that God has created each individual in their own unique and special way.
December 30, 2018.
As the day started, we also had the opportunity to visit the Maple leaf House in Stoyaniv which is sponsored and supported by the “Nashi” group from Saskatoon, Canada. This particular orphanage has recently appeared on ‘Forum’ and ‘Kontakt’ TV. The segments shown on the national media are a small window to enlighten viewers as to what charitable work the Ukrainians in Canada are offering to unfortunate minority groups in our motherland. This is one of the well maintained facilities, with stable and well-loved and raised young girls. These girls have been rescued from a life of human trafficking, poverty, and poor parental guidance. Thankfully, the location of this orphanage provides the Stoyaniv village Priest, with Dobrodika, and his family (whom are one of the most friendly families I’ve had a chance to meet), who live in this facility, and all the villagers volunteer and help as much as they can. I had a chance to meet all thirteen girls, many sisters amongst them, get a tour of their wonderful rooms and home, visit their school and play areas, as well as their kitchen and chapel. When entering the chapel, I was pleasantly taken aback to see an icon of every girl’s Saint displayed on the alter. This was a beautiful touch and makes me realize how special and unique every orphanage is in its own way. The orphanage also has a tree of sponsors that they are proud to share and work with. Every sponsored organization uses their assistance for the betterment of the orphans.
Following our trip to Stoyaniv, we visited our well-known orphanage, Sonechko, in Kivertsi in the Lutsk region of Ukraine, which through the work of our church, St. Demetrius, diligently works to provide the opportunity for growth, funding, updating of the facility, and necessities for the youth. Out of all four orphanages visited, my observation was that this one was the most prosperous. Even though many label Sonechko as an orphanage, this can be classified as a rehabilitation facility for youth with mental disabilities, mainly autism, bipolar disorder, and behavioral issues. Here parents are devoted to their children and many try to get a placement in this facility from all over Ukraine as it is known as one of the best rated facilities for these types of disorders in children.
The children temporarily stay there and are able to be reunited with their families during holidays. It is filled with medical staff, such as professional doctors and nurses, who are trained in this field for disabilities of these kind in youth, and educators who are able to provide learning and education upon the child’s educational IQ levels. The funding of this facility operates on majority sponsors from Canada and around the world. The finances are channeled to generate a well-known facility in Eastern Europe. Over the past few years, funding has been generated to create a more up-to-date vision, with bright colors and outdoor playground facilities. Unfortunately, as our flight was delayed and it was approaching the Ukrainian Christmas season, the children within Sonechko had already gone home to celebrate with their families. However, the long and detailed tour of the facility by the current manager, and the videos our mission group was shown of the youth playing in their new playground and singing Ukrainian carols was very memorable.
January 1 and 2, 2019.
While in Ukraine the group had the opportunity to worship in historical churches such as the Dormition Cathedral in L’viv, where the priests were honoured to concelebrate the Liturgy and received with his Beatitude, Metropolitan Makarij. Upon our visit with him we were awarded individual medals commemorating the 1030 Jubilee of the initiation of Christianity in L’viv, Ukraine. Further, during our trip to Kiev, the group and I had the privilege of staying at the Guest House of the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery. Here, we had an unexpected turn of events and “were accorded to great honour of an audience with the newly-chosen Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, Metropolitan Epiphanij. Both of these meetings were very pleasant and deeply meaningful to all the members of our group. We likewise were able to visit the site of the Maidan, as well as the memorial to those who perished there during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014.
Following this worthwhile mission trip to Ukraine, I would like to draw upon a model of great holiness, namely St. Anthony. I quote,
“Please grant me a heart that is capable of loving God above all things, open my soul to a generous and sincere love of my brothers and sisters, so that I never become self-centered, but will always be ready to serve my neighbor, comfort the afflicted, and help those most in need.”
I feel this quote reflects the symbol of this mission trip.
As I end my report, with a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been involved with donations, the mission trip, volunteers, directors, managers, educators, parents, organizations, and parishioners for their generous spiritual and monetary contributions to continue such a large but necessary undertaking. I refer to the book “AXIOS The mystery of Human Nature” provided to me by Metropolitan Epiphanij, published by the blessing of His Holiness, the Patriarch of Kyiv and all Rus’-Ukraine Filaret,
“Look at Abraham… the richest man in the whole of the Near East. But how did he manage his riches? He offered refreshments to everyone who passed by his tent, he fed them, he clothed them, he offered them a place to sleep, and so one day he met God himself. And so the question is not whether or not you are rich, but the question has to do with how you manage the wealth that God has given you” (Patriarch Filaret of Kyiv and all Rus’-Ukraine). (Department of Publications UOC Kyiv Patriarchate, 2015: 48).
May God Bless you all,
Sincerely, Tanya Buciora
UCU HELPS UKRAINE CAMPAIGN
Following the Revolution of Dignity 2013/14, the fierce battle for Ukrainian Independence and Statehood continues, as the 4th year comes to a close where Ukraine’s armed forces continue to hold the line against Russia and its proxies who have invaded Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Ukraine’s favourite sons and daughters continue to be shot at, wounded and killed by Russian artillery and heavy weapons, standing firm against the Muscovite aggressors. Ukraine’s bravest continue to return from the battlefield maimed or worse, while the west waffles in providing Ukraine with much needed lethal defensive weapons.
Beginning in January 2015, staff and members of Ukrainian Credit Union Limited, along with conscientious patriots in the Ukrainian community, have been raising funds to help Ukraine’s wounded soldiers who suffered serious injury withstanding the Russian aggressor on the front lines of Ukraine’s battle for independence. “UCU Helps Ukraine” was spearheaded by Kateryna Litvinjuk, with Roman Mlynko and Mykhailo Zienchuk playing supporting roles on the committee.
What is the UCU Helps Ukraine Project?
This is an initiative that works with Ukrainian Injured soldiers who are in need of medical assistance and rehabilitation after being injured in the Euromaiden, Crimean revolution, and other combat happening in Eastern Ukraine. National CYMK President Tanya Buciora has personally visited some of these rehabilitation centres in Ukraine during this summer, and the Toronto Local have spent some immediate time with some soldiers from the Broken Blossoms campaign two summers ago. Former National CYMK President, Liza Zienchuk’s father is also on the committee for initiated and assisting with the emergence of this project.
Purpose of why CYMK is becoming involved
It has come to the National CYMK Executive’s awareness that the Ukrainian military soliders who are fighting for Ukraine’s freedom, and those in rehabilitation healing from their wounds, could really benefit from our financial and spiritual assistance. As a Ukrainian organization, assisting with raising funds for those who continuously risk their lives fighting for our countries freedom is just a small asset CYMKivtsi can undertake. We are reminded of this during our every recital of the CYMK Klych: Ми є чесні молодчі, бyдем шуро пращуювaти, добри ділo продoвжaти!
We are appealing to the generous nature of our Ukrainian community to help with any amount of donations. If you wish to help out, please contact the Presidents of your local CYMK groups.