Kyiv, Ukraine

Kyiv, UkraineWhat’s going on in Ukraine…and who cares? It actually surprises me to hear from friends in the U.S. that they are seeing nothing on the news. Really?

This article from Forbes might help you understand WHY it’s important to keep an eye on Ukraine.

The Kyiv Post is posting timely updates here, just so you’re up to snuff.

Please pray for the people of Ukraine. And the leaders. And the opposition. And the law enforcers.

(Photo via TheBlogPirate)

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Kyiv demonstrations

Ukraine linksReminiscent of the Orange Revolution, Ukrainians are taking to the street to protest a decision made by the government. Our house guest joined the crowds after midnight last night and said the estimated numbers were close to 2000 participants at one point, but were closer to 1000 when he left. All were vowing to return to the streets again today, with a large demonstration expected on Sunday.

I must say that it was much more pleasant to stand in the lightly-falling snow of the Orange Revolution than it is in the cold drizzly rain this year.

Read more here

Chocolate wars

Roshen chocolatesLife in Ukraine — flowers, vodka, and chocolate. And lots of each.

These staples of life here greatly affect the economy as well. And we’re now seeing a continuation of the Chocolate War that began earlier this year when Russia banned imports from Ukraine, and, in particular, products made by the Roshen company.

As this article states, Russia is strong-arming those former Russian territories that are caught between signing a trade agreement with western Europe or Russia.

A Roshen candy/cake outlet is just down the street from our flat. Looks like I need to do some serious shopping.

Vitali Klitschko, founder of UDAR

Ukraine linksIt’s one thing to be a world champion boxer and decide to enter the political ring to fight for your vision for Ukraine. In his own words, he entered the fray wearing rose-colored glasses that quickly needed to be removed.

It didn’t take long before those he thought would be allies proved to be in the political process more for personal gain than truly for the best for the country.

Vitali Klitschko has all the money he needs through the sports world. His family has lived quite comfortably in the U.S. and in Germany. And yet he has returned to live in Kyiv with a heart to make real changes in the direction of his country. Not hollow promises. Not political cliches. But real change.

Keeping our eyes on him…

Read the full article from Forbes here.

Maundy Thursday

DSCN4210I just ran across this article posted by a friend on facebook. I was convicted and encouraged both by steps that our church in Ukraine is taking. Particularly the Helping Hands club…designed for children ages 5-10 with the goal for them to see where they personally can serve their family, their church and their community. Where they can personally be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Sumy ice sculptures

Photo by Alla Akimenko

Photo by Alla Akimenko

We have LOTS of ice in Kyiv. Lining the streets in random chunks. Coating the sidewalks. Slip-sliding is the only way to maneuver some areas of the city.

Sumy also has ice. Ten tons of ice blocks cut out of the Psel River.

If you’re in the northeast of Ukraine, don’t miss this ice sculpture display! More sculptures are being added as amateurs and professionals alike are experimenting with this art media. I personally would love to see the illuminated carved children’s slide. And the Easter pysanka. And, and, and. Love the creativity.

Read the full article here.

Special Needs and Euro 2012

We have been hearing some rumblings about the extravagant funds that were needed to properly co-host Euro 2012. And for what? If you’re not a sports enthusiast, and particularly futbol, do you really care that stadiums were upgraded? Do you really care about the huge fan zones, added security, tourists? Some businesses — particularly beer and alcohol companies — will certainly see a spike in income…but maybe only temporarily.

Flowers are beautifully displayed throughout the city. Will these new gardens and window boxes be cared for after the final game is played in Kyiv?

Was any of the money spent on lasting projects…that will benefit those other than fans?

I think most people would agree that improvement of the roads has been a real blessing to anyone traveling around the country. Some folks might believe that English being posted and spoken on the metro lines has been a help for foreigners…and Ukrainians wishing to learn English. Certainly Andrievsky Uzviz is sporting a fresh new appearance.

Thank you, Euro 2012.

But, I was most encouraged by an article I read today about the improvements being made for the handicapped and disabled. These changes will affect countless Ukrainians as they maneuver around the cities. Not just fans. And not for just one month.

And the process that took place to evaluate whether buildings, sidewalks, stadiums were handicap-accessible has changed the view for many involved.

As Ukraine Medical Outreach continues to reach out to those that society has neglected, we are striving to empower health-care providers and families caring for those with special needs. May these structural improvements be just the beginning of a new awareness of and approach to dealing with these challenges.

For this we thank you, Euro 2012.

Ukraine in the News

Another fistfight took place between lawmakers with different opinions on whether Russian should be added as an official language of Ukraine.

Azerbaijan appeals to Ukraine over murder of Azerbaijani activist

Ukraine’s national futbol team has lost its first-choice goalkeeper to injury

Euro2012, Yulia, EU

All news points to the Euro2012 futbol tournament being co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland next month:  The new coach for England has x number of days to get his team prepared. Will the venues be ready for play? Are the roads and public transit sufficient for the crowds? Is security secure?

And now we add to it all the continuing saga of Yulia Tymoshenko (including a hunger strike), a possible EU leadership boycott, and terrorist bombings in Dneipropetrovsk.

More details in this article.

Please keep praying for the people of Ukraine.

In the news

Some recent articles in the news concerning Ukraine:

Ukraine accused of human rights abuse

Ukraine adopts no smoking ban ahead of Euro 2012

It’s not hard for me to believe the human rights abuse, but seeing is believing when we return to Ukraine as far as the smoking ban. Wow! Restaurants will be smoke-free?! A friend wrote on facebook that Ukraine had two smoking sections in most restaurants: smoking and chain-smoking! This will make those occasional dinners out much more pleasant…