Back to Chernihiv, Ukraine after three years!
Trip Start Jun 28, 2009
25Trip End Jul 16, 2009
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We headed out to the street from this very large railway station. Everything in Soviet / Ukraine public places is so handicap inaccessible. We had to walk up a long flight of stairs. No escalator or elevator. I had to carry my 50 pound case all the way. But’s it’s not heavy….it’s Ukraine.
We headed through downtown to the Dnieper River. I still get excited about driving through this anciengt city more than 1100 years old with churches almost that old. Popular Christianity came to Ukraine in 988 when Prince Vladimir accepted Christianity as the official religion. The population of Kiev was driven down to the Dnieper River to be baptized. Those who refused were drowned. For most it was a no-brainer what to do.
We crossed this wide famous river which has the city of Kiev high on the west bank. We were getting out of rush hour and headed for our two hour drive to Chernihev.
We got to Chernihev in good time – a little after noon. It was wonderful to see Natalia. I’m staying in their apartment in the living room on the sofa. Natalya immediately asks about Tom Peine and the McClures…..and Katherine Rowland and Cassie, Snyder’s daughter. They want to know about Tom Peine’s health. I told them all about the great 50th Wedding Anniversary for the Peine’s last month. All people who have come to visit here with me. Then Katie Durham and the Shabi’s. They remembered and reminisced about everyone. I passed on greetings from all these people to the Pasechnik’.
Mostly Natalia and Vasyl Pasechnik asked about Bev and commented over and over about how beautiful, kind and good-natured she is.
We talked about health in Ukraine. The birth rate is alarmingly low in the country and the province of Chernihev has the lowest birth rate in the country. Ukraine has adopted a policy of paying 10,000 grivna’s for having a child and 25,000 for having one after that. But, that has backfired as people were now having children just for the money and then taking it and drinking and smoking it away. They said that the birth rate has been rising a little, but not enough to keep the population from dropping. The birth rate was highest in Transcarpathia and other western provinces because people were religious and more responsible.
Then Anya Hrymchak came over. She is Natalia’s daughter and lives in the next apartment over. She brought over their 13 month old son Cyril. Their first son is Yegor who is now 11.
Natalia then fixed lunch and we talked and reminisced. Dr. P. asked me to ask the blessing on the food. They had never done that before. No prayer is asked ever. They seemed quite pleased by what I said asking God’s blessing our continuing relationship and Him being the source of all the good things that have come to them. We had been working, after all, for more than 13 years now. If you’e like to see more about what we’ve done in this part of the world, please see the whole history of our working together at www.lifenets.org/chernobyl.
The next stop is to see the Revival Centre, but first we had to stop at the Department of Health and drop by some papers. Natalia showed me a medical journal and there was a very technical article about hard to diagnose diseases that was written bv her and Dr. P.
Then the discussion went to talking about their dachas…the summer garden place outside town. They have them very close to one another. The Pasechnik’s had just gotten some land outside town and are building a “dachka” or “little” dacha. It will have a sauna and they are inviting Beverly and me to come and stay with them.
Dr. P started from the humblest beginning. We were honored to be with him at the point when he was just starting a humble little center with three doctors to rehabilitate 30 children at one time in a corner of a children’s nursery.
He has since taken over all the area of the nursery complex and treats 180-200 children a continuously. He Has a staff of 115 doctors, therapists, and other workers. He has facilities for 30 children to stay overnight and now building another addition for 30 more children. He has been honored by the President of Ukraine for his work. We at LifeNets have been so honored to have had a significant part in all this. It’s a long and happy story and you can follow it on LifeNets Website at www.lifenets.org/chernobyl.
Dr. P and his wife Natalia (who is the head neurologist for the province) treat me like one of their family. We then go over his Revival Rehabilitation Centre. It’s truly an island of brightness and hope in the midst of a gray and murky society whose health has been violated by the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident 23 years ago. The effects are still there. The center is a contrast as it offers hope, healing, happiness….you immediately see it. It is an amazing contrast to the environment around. And anyone who gets to know Dr. P knows it well. He absolutely loves children and is so concerned about their health.
He now has a stand-in director Svetlana Mikolayevna Chorna, a striking and competent woman in her late 30’s. He is so happy with her….she is a fast learner and a big help to him. She came in and we talked about half an hour. I just love the pace. Everyone is so kind with their time and treats me like I’m some very special visitor. I don’t think of myself as that since I’m not a medical professional, however, I do know that with many others, LifeNets has been a significant part of the development of this Center for children.
Then we went over to the woman in charge of the overnight children. Again, a bright positive and team member of “Revival.” Everyone in this place KNOWS that thye are part of a team of professionals who make a difference…
Their staff is now more than 115. Of that there are 18 Natasha’s! Only two Victor’s and one Ivan. That’s strange.
A dinner is prepared at the Center and served by one of the staff who works as a lawyer. A very pleasant lady by the name of Julia. Her mother Galina actually manages of one of the sections of the rehabilitation center, but she is in the hospital with kidney stones. We all plan to go to the hospital to see her. I remember Galina well. A woman with a great sense of humor.
Dinner was as usually with too much of too many things. We talked till about 9 pm and then took Julia home. It’s been raining. Then we went back to Pasechnik’s apartment on the ninth floor of an old building. There are two dangerous appearing elevators. One is very small and the other is large. The large has been inactivated because they say it’s been breaking down a lot and leaves people in it for long periods of time, hours, as it’s being repaired. The three of us pack into the little one. They say that they often walk the nine floors up, but it’s been harder to do.
At the apartment we talk some more, watch the news in Ukrainian from Channel One Kiev and go to bed. Wow.