Happy November

Hello Everyone!

I t has taken 17 months, but NOW I understand why my organization emphasizes singing and dancing in so many activites!   Since October 14, when I last “blogged”, I have attended FOUR more festivals:  Two school festivals celebrating the FALL; The 67th anniversary of Luhansk forces freeing the Liberation of Ukraine from the German and Fascist Invaders; and, the Celebration for Social Workers.  Ukrainians celebrate every holiday with a “festival” that includes singing and dancing.   Sometimes I feel I am attending “American Idol”  in Luhansk, Ukraine!!

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19 October 2011, Fall Festival for my organization’s young disabled youth- Dancing, Singing, Instrument recitals

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20 October 2011 - Fall Festival at the Luhansk Oblast Rehabilitation Therapy Home

for Children with Mental Disabilities

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Two young children from the Luhansk Oblast Rehabilitation Therapy Home

having fun at the 20 October Festival

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27 October 2011,  The 67th Anniversary of the Liberation of Ukraine from the German-Fascist Invaders

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27 October 2011 67th Anniversary of the Liberation of Ukraine festival participants

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Celebrating the Day of the Social Worker and Photo 2 shows My work colleagues

Back:  Natalya, Vladymir,  Irina, Caroline

Front:  Tatyana (boss) Lena, Marina

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Above:  Four photos of the celebration at the Symphony Hall

We HAD to have a Halloween party, too.  Our Saturday English club, about 40 Ukrainians of all ages, had an “American Style halloween party”—games, dancing, candy, costumes.  It was great fun.  Our Ukrainian friends LOVED learning how to do the “Michael Jackson Thriller Dance”… I will spare you the video.. And they loved the game, passing the apple from chin to chin.  Photos below:

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Photo 1:  Dr. Andrew and his carving tools   Photo 2:  the finished product

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A few of the costumes

And between festivals, I have been at work.  Our group now has temporary office space; our principal office is still being remodeled- outside and inside.  We are told by the City (who owns the building) that we will have a disabled accessible office.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.

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This is the inside of the building where I work. 

The hallway with the start of the remodel work in November 2010

(yes one year ago…we moved out in June2011.)

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Above: This is the building where I work.

Currently the exterior is being replaced, with insulation being added.

Please note:  The gas pipeline – in front of the trees- has NOT been moved!

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This is a bathroom sink.

I received a $500 water grant to replace this sink and also to make the bathroom more accessible for the disabled.

I am assured that this will happen; my grant money will be well spent.

Our temporary office space is located in the Rehabilitation Therapy department of the Ukrainian National University in Luhansk, Shevchenko University.  Many of our student helpers are studying rehabilitation therapy; one of their classes is a wheelchair dance class

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Above:  Wheelchair dance class

My organization coordinated a conference to discuss access to higher education for disabled students.  I was asked to give a presentation on what American colleges and universities do for their disabled students.  Thanks to many friends at home, I was given LOTS of information on what colleges and universities do or have!  It is amazing and gratifying to see what we do for our students.  Even with all the budget cuts and the problems that we are having at home, we Americans should be VERY proud of what we do for all our disabled students.   Our schools -- elementary through university ARE SO INVITING for students.  Photos below will show you WHY we should be proud of what we do at home….and WHY change is needed here!

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Photo 1:  Stairwell to the second floor—there are NO ramps and No elevators IN ANY OF THE SCHOOLS.

If you are in a wheelchair, you have serious issues getting around!

Photo 2:  The step-up- to-hole-in-the-floor toilet.

Able-bodies students have trouble with these facilities.  Imagine a student in a wheel chair.

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Photo 1:  The door to a classroom; again, wheelchair users have problems entering a classroom.

Photo 2:  The fire escape from the second floor.

HOWEVER--- There is change coming here in Luhansk; yes, the changes are slow in coming, but there is change.  The photos below were taken at the newly remodeled Luhansk Oblast Rehabilitation Therapy Home  for Mentally Disabled children.  We take bathrooms, physical therapy rooms, and ramp access, such as those below, for granted.  Not in Ukraine!  These are NEW, this year 2011!

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University accessisble

And it would not be a blog from Caroline without a “food report”.   The Luhansk Cooking Club had its first anniversary!  I am really proud that the Cooking Club has such interest and so many people that want to participate.   We had a great dinner, making borscht (red borscht), halupsie (a cabbage, ground pork and rice dish baked in the oven) an American FRESH LETTUCE SALAD (WOW) and pear tarts and champagne for dessert. (See photos below.)

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Current weather in Luhansk:  It is 18F or  -8C which means, black boot season in Ukraine.

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Enjoy your Thanksgiving holidays.

I am truly thankful for my family and all my friends who are sharing this adventure with me. 

On Saturday, Nov. 26, when we have our Thanksgiving dinner at my flat, I will toast all of you, “my absent members, who ever you are and where ever you are”. 

I do hope you will feel the hug and thanks that I send to all of you