Sometimes the Past Startles and Encourages You

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Hi Robert. At last I have found you. I want to thank you for giving me the high road in life. You saved my life. In 2007, I led a not correct way of life. But I wanted to change my life and turned to you for help, for the money. You helped me, and I lied to you, I spent the money on drugs. Then again I came to you for money, “I would like to go home,” I said but have no money. Then you said to me: “.. I will give you money, but if you spend it again for drugs, we will never be friends ..” I was ashamed. I was full of shame. And I promised you to change my life. You gave me $4 for the ride. My life is worth $4.

Since then, 10 years have passed. I have my own home and family. I have a beautiful wife, I have a favorite daughter who is 4.5 years. I have a demanding job. I work as the chief of security at a very large company. I enjoy life and I thank you. Maybe you do not remember me, but I will always remember you, and I kept my promise.
With great respect,
Vlad
(sent via messenger on facebook)
The Way Home needs a big thank you for taking care of Vlad in those years he ran from home.  My $4 just came at the right time!
We are back in the states after seven weeks in Odessa. Winter is not really the best time to be in Ukraine. Everything we do, of course, is inside.  With homework and help in many ways, Natasha is our friend, mentor, youth worker and psychologist at The Way Home. We continue to train foster families, to train our people to work with foster families and to prepare for our mentoring program with kids in orphanages, and to plan for our Peace Camp this summer for refugees from the east.
Here is Natasha with kids at The Way Home.
 
 Max and I chatting with a medical student from India after my talk at the YMCA.
 
Kids from The Way Home taking website design class.
 
 A group of foster parents below trained by Arina and Ira.
 Foster Mom to be
Foster Dad talks about roots of destructive motivation: lack of patience, genetics and negative relationships with family of origin.
Our trainer Arina
Our trainer Ira and with Alla
 
And finally, a scene out the window of our apartment in Odessa, old buildings in the foreground, new in the distance.  Sunrise and sun’s up.
 
Grace and Peace,
Robert Gamble

PEACEMAKING SCHOOL FOR TEENS

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As fighting in eastern Ukraine has increased, the work for peace has strengthened.

Sixteen teens were chosen among hundreds who applied, to gather for three days of intensive Peacemaking Training which was sponsored paid for by the Minor Academy of Sciences in Ukraine.  Our role was in helping to lead it. For that, This Child Here joined staff  from the Quaker Program, Alternatives to Violence and fund in Kiev, Children of Hope.

In the game above, teens do a trust walk blindfolded through a course which includes objects to step over and crawl under.

Unlike most of our programs, these are the kind of youth who come from stable families and rank near the top of their class as people with bright futures. As we continue this kind of training we are building a generation of youth in Ukraine who know how to manage conflict and bring peace to places and times of violence.

Scroll down for the faces of teens and trainers for this event.

 

 


Alla Soroka to be PCUSA International Peacemaker

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portrait by Oksana Xarkovenko

It’s Saturday, February 11th. Yulia and I are in Odessa, Ukraine where it is 18 degrees Farenheit and much of what we walk on are  sheets of ice.  We return to the states, March 27th.

The important news, though, is our Project Manager for This Child Here, Alla Soroka, has been chosen by the Presbyterian Church (USA) to be one of 2017’s twelve International Peacemakers.  Since 1984 the Presbyterian Church (USA) has hosted over 250 International Peacemakers from 60 countries, persons of deep faith with experience and proven commitment to peace and justice ministries in their communities. They have stories to share.  They “Work for healing and reconciliation in cultures of violence and brokenness,”  They “Embody and advocate for God’s vision of a just and peaceful world.*

Along with others, she will tour and speak to Presbyteries and Presbyterian Churches from September 19 – October 18, 2017.

Alla has been working for This Child Here since 2007.  She became our Project Manager in 2010.

About her work, she writes, “in the atmosphere of acceptance and freedom, participants are given the opportunity to work and deal with conflicts. I felt and realized people must appreciate each other. When they can listen to each other without criticism, when they practice these skills, they create an atmosphere of healing.”

*taken from the invitation extended to International Peacemakers

Grace and Peace,

Robert Gamble

 

 

 

 

 

 


Wishing you…

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Wishing you,

 this Christmas season and in the New Year to come.

We need your support.
We currently have the opportunity and responsibility for training all new foster families in Odessa. Currently, we are the only agency in Odessa certified to do this. We recently held three trainings for three weeks, four days a week, for families who want to care for children.  The city wants ten more.  I expect that number to increase as Ukraine continues to move from orphanages to Ukrainian families providing foster care.  We will start a mentoring program in 2017, matching families with kids in orphanages. As those relationships grow, this will lead to more families taking children into foster care.
Our dream is to build nurturing families with resilient children. If you have children, know about that; it takes consistency and love.
We have a cadre of really good people to do this: wise, capable and caring.  That look in their eyes I see, when they get to do what they love to do, and get paid for it. I’m passing that on to you:)
Robert Gamble
www.thischildhere.org

 

 

 


People Change People

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Yosjik in 2005

People change people.

Not stuff, not giveaways, not blankets and candy.

Education changes people but there’s always that teacher.  

Faith changes people but who was it that led you to faith?

We have great people working for This Child Here. Government agencies want us. Faith based programs want us. The people who work for This Child Here are the best and the brightest. They are smart, committed and caring. They work out of love for what they do.

I will be traveling around, talking about vulnerable youth and children in Ukraine and our people who work with them and what we do. Below is a schedule.

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Yosjik today

I first met Yosjik in 2005 when I shot the photo at the top of the page. He came to live at The Way Home, the Odessa Charity that gave me office space when I first moved to Ukraine.  They changed his life and I was glad to be a part of it. 

My Schedule:

Nov 9 Church of the Lakes, Orlando, FL
Nov 13 Port Orange Presbyterian, Port Orange, FL
Nov 16 First Presbyterian Church, Arcadia, FL
Nov 20, Collierville Presbyterian Church, Collierville TN
Nov 27 First Presbyterian Church, Fort Worth, TX

NOV 29 GIVING TUESDAY!
Dec 1-3 First Presbyterian Church, Farmington New Mexico.
Dec 4 Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Albuquerque,NM
Dec 11 Tigard Presbyterian Church, Portland Or.
Dec 17, 18  New Vernon, NJ and New York City

Grace and Peace,

Robert Gamble


Olya

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olya

That’s when she left the shelter called The Way Home where she was staying in Odessa, Ukraine and disappeared along with another girl and a boy.  That was 2007.  A month passed, then I remember an all night train ride to a city called Vinnytsia and an early morning bus ride to remote village half an hour away. The sun had still not come up when we found her in a cabin with less room inside than your normal living room.  The kids came back with us.

This third picture is her today, eight years later.

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The train to Vinnetsia was a remarkable moment in my ten years of directing the work of This Child Here in Ukraine. Seeing this photo reminded me how the right kind of love and attention can help youth and children grow with grace into adulthood. Without the effort we put forth, you might be looking at a very different face.

Olya’s face is so hopeful and full of joy.

Robert Gamble

 

If you want the full story, it’s an 8 min read, click on  Train To Vinnytsia  on Medium.com.

 

 

 

 


If someone asked me to donate $25 a month….

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If someone asked me to donate $25 a month, there is one thing I would ask myself:

Will it make a difference?   

I believe people change people.

People inspire, teach, take care. People help, give hope and love. People can change other’s lives.

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Robert Gamble, Executive Director, This Child Here, summer camp 2016 on the beach, Odessa Oblast.

Lives of vulnerable youth and children…

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“This Child Here” project manager Alla Soroka with kids from the shelter, The Way Home.  

Lives of adults who want to help….

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Foster and adopting parents training. Odessa, Ukraine

Lives of refugee families who lost their future…

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Peace Camp for refugees of Eastern Ukraine, in Koblevo, Odessa Oblast.

Lives of young people who wish for peace in a time of war.

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“Dialogue in Action,” a workshop on conflict for teens, Kiev, Ukraine

People change each other. We change ourselves. 

When you give, it makes a difference.  Will you give?

Robert Gamble

To donate and read more about This Child Here at work in Ukraine, click here.