Heroic Mother – First Child for Inclusion

by Larisa Bibko, Special Education Teacher

A Cute and Fearful Two Year Old

An incredibly cute but fearful 2 year old named Sashko could neither walk nor speak. His physical and mental development was delayed due to microcephaly diagnosis. “Oh, he needs so much help, professional help! We don’t want to miss another day, the earlier we start, the more we can do!” I thought to myself when we first met.  

Immediately Sashko joined our preschool education group, and he loved it immensely. He would never miss a lesson thanks to the help of granny, papa, or mama who were always there to bring him to the lessons. He loved the fellowship and he loved to grow.

Model of Care

Sashko’s life started to change. A team of loving and disciplined therapists helped him develop in different areas of his life. Special education teachers worked with him in the preschool.  Physical therapists maximized his walking ability. Psychologists and sensory therapists helped him relax and conquer his fears. Speech therapists helped him learn how to communicate better and Occupational therapist helped him master basic daily tasks. It looked like he was far enough along to join a public kindergarten at the age of 3!

Hopes to Pieces

When the time came for him to stand before the special committee that would decide what form of education to offer him, the hope for inclusion in the public system broke to pieces. To his mother’s big surprise, they not only refused him in a kindergarten for children with special needs, but also suggested sending him to an orphanage (boarding school).

“You don’t give my child even one chance for development. You cross him out of life,” she argued with the committee director. “My child has a right for inclusive education by law. If you don’t put him in the kindergarten, I will bring this case to the Mayor of the city, and if I have to, even to the President’s wife Marina Poroshenko”.

The committee director explained they had no teacher’s assistants to work in kindergartens, whereas Sashko’s mother said she would volunteer. Having a PhD in Chemistry, she was ready to give up her work for an opportunity for him to be included. She left certain that she would find a way to reach the first lady, if needed, but her child would not live in isolation.

Exceeding Expectations

Just a few weeks later, Sashko’s mother received a call from a special committee: they found an assistant and her son was to be accepted to a kindergarten. He will be the first child with special needs admitted to a public kindergarten on the inclusion program! Overflowing with joy she rushed to MTU to break the news - he son would have equal opportunities alongside other children.

Today Sashko is an independent, attentive, and active boy who attends a kindergarten and enjoys spending time with his peers.

We are thankful to God for the opportunity to improve his life and for his loving mother, who stands strong for her child’s rights.

Thank you, friends, for allowing us to be instruments in God’s hands to change children’s lives.

Together We Keep Children Out of Orphanages

By Luda Chaikovska, MTU nurse

Ukrainian women have to be strong. It’s in the culture. Even though many might be depressed and drained, they will smile and say they are OK anyways. They manage to get by. Mothers and grandmothers of children with disabilities who come to us for help come weary and broken hearted. Their eyes show pain deep down in their hearts. 

Every day I pray for the Lord to give me an opportunity to be a witness of His great love to our mothers. I have those divine opportunities when they bring their children in for medical treatment.   

Last November Valentina, the grandmother of six-year-old Misha came to MTU for help. As she shared her story, she would frequently have to stop as she choked back her tears. She wiped off the tears, ashamed of them, and made a great effort to continue immediately. Rarely, she allowed anyone to see her cry, but that day she felt safe enough to share her burden. 

For many years, Valentina had been taking care of her husband who lost his sight at a young age, and she still carried the pain of the loss of her 17-year-old daughter. She said she would never forget the sound of the ground falling onto her coffin. Her first and only grandchild was born with severe disabilities, and her daughter-in-law refused to take him in her arms after delivery. 

Her son started having problems in his marriage. Though Valentina tried hard, she could not save the marriage. The young couple got divorced. Valentina quit her job as a journalist at a city newspaper to devote herself to Misha’s care. Seeing how hard it was for Valentina to care for both her husband and her grandson, numerous times her friends and relatives would advise her to send little Misha to an orphanage. She believed she had strength for everyone and that one day it would become easier. She would never let her grandson go to an orphanage. Time went by. Misha needed more care. And then everything escalated when her son left to go to the front in the Eastern Ukraine. There she was, tired, depressed, and at the end of her rope. 
Valentina needed to be strong for all three of her men: her blind husband, her son in the war and her growing grandson, who needed more and more attention and patience. “There are days, when I have no strength to carry on, I give up,” she said.

I thank God for creating a safe place like MTU for such women.  When Valentina brings her Misha to our therapy sessions, she has some time to relax and connect with other women, and to receive encouragement and love from our team. Valentina appreciates every prayer lifted up for her and thanks God for sending her to our charity.  

Recently she taught Misha to sign "Thank God.” It is a great joy to see Valentina’s smile and for her to be part of our MTU family.

Friends, thank you for your support. By helping families we help children escape orphanages while surrounding them with a loving and caring environment.