For those who can find Ukraine on the map but lack further specifics, here is a little geography lesson - helping to put our work into context. We live 611 km SE of Kiev. The town of Molochansk (pop. 7000) is close to the centre of the map in the northwest corner of the former Molotschna colony, not far from the city of Tokmak. Our projects are centred in the former Mennonite colonies of Molotschna, Choritiza and Yazekovo which at times requires travelling over roads that defy description. Fortunately we have a good, solid vehicle.
|It was a perfect, thoroughly enjoyable day, not too hot|
had almost completed installing gyproc on the church ceiling. Wednesday was reward day, a trip to the Sea of Azov near Berdyansk. We were asked whether we could help with transportation. Together with our local young people, 30 of us piled into 4 vehicles. As you may surmise, the wearing of seat belts is not mandatory here. Our destination was the spit of land that juts into the sea just south of Berdyansk, a two hour drive.
Back again to Molochansk. One of our priorities is encouraging local initiatives. Last fall we became aware of an enterprising young couple who had started a farming venture. Denis and Svieta had taken a loan to purchase land and planted several hectares of strawberries and garlic. Our organization helped with the purchase of a rototiller. The good news is that after several successful strawberry crops they have almost finished repaying their loan. This year they harvested a lot of garlic and are looking for markets.
Sadly, they discovered that Ukraine is importing garlic from China at very low prices. In addition to farming Denis is responsible for maintenance at the Senior's Home and has occasionally brought some of the residents to the farm for an afternoon outing. This is a literal "field trip" for them. They've enjoyed sitting in the shade trimming greens off the garlic bulbs. Several days ago we were treated to a Bulgarian dinner consisting of cottage cheese stuffed pockets of deep-fried dough eaten with lots of sour cream. Then Denis and Svieta took us on a garden tour, showing us the product of seeds brought from Canada in spring, also pointing out a grove of young fruit trees. They dream of purchasing more land and eventually tending a big orchard.
|What are those red-stemmed stalks?|
|First taste of mulberries|
Over the past ten days we've celebrated three staff birthdays. Custom dictates that the birthday person provides the goodies. Ira is our head cook and her creation tasted even better than it looked.
For more information on the work of the Mennonite Centre, please go to http://www.mennonitecentre.ca/
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