“World Without Rage,” The Camp for Peace called White Sail

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“World Without Rage”, it reads in Russian, from the Camp for Peace, White Sail, designed and directed by This Child Here at the beach near Odessa, Ukraine.

world without rageFrom July 15-26, ten families displaced by military action from the eastern regions of Ukraine , gathered by the Black Sea for a camp they labeled: White Sail. The camp was designed and directed by Alla Soroka,Project Manager for the work of This Child Here, with the idea to create a safe space in which people can feel at ease, rejuvenate, relax, and strengthening family relationships, but the idea goes back to Soroka’s conversation with Roland A. Rand, a Quaker from Estonia with the dream of a peace camp for people in Ukraine.

Funding for the camp came from This Child Here, Presbyterian Churches (USA), British and European Quakers through Friends World Committee for Consultation – Europe and Middle East Section; and Beyond Our Borders of the Unted Methodist Church. Photos were by Oksana Harkovenko (below) Camp was held at the Recreation Centre in Syčavka just outside Odessa, Ukraine.

Below are the portraits Oksana (pictured right) made of those who attended. IMG_7033

“One evening we planned a disco, for the young, but adults came too. We had a good DJ. He made music for youth and children and it was loud. We turned off the lights so that no one hesitated to dance. We brought yellow balloons to start the fun! Children were running one after another to burst someone’s balloon; others fought with balloons like swords, dancing. When it was late, the DJ it was time to go to bed. No! the kids did not want to. So he said all must lay on the floor and now there will be something slow. We lay on the carpet in the hall. Soft music began to play; it was lyrical rap, a poem about love, difficulties, pain and life. It was quiet….. We closed or eyes, and it seemed to me that we all thought about the same things, we were good and sad at the same time. It seemed there were no adults and no children. We were all adults and children, our souls open to something that was happening, something good, something that brought us together. Then Sasha switched on the light, and all shouted at him, but he laughed and said it was time to sleep. – Alla Soroka, Camp Director  (photo below)


Alla Soroka, Camp Director

“The first few days I went into the sea, I was crying from happiness – it was precious to feel human again.” -The family Lyaschenko

“We were unique in this experience. I was glad for the time to be in the lives of these people; to be privy to such events is happiness. As a wise person once said, “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness!” We lit it together!” Alla Soroka, Camp Director.

flowerthatnever dies

The flower called: “It never dies”

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A visit from the Presbyterian Church USA Mission Agency

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Alla Amgad Karen Morey Ellen Smith

A visit from the Presbyterian Church (USA) Mission Agency, from left to right: Ellen Smith, Mission co-worker based in Germany, serving also in Russia and Belarus; Karen Morey, a member of Presbyterian Church of the cross in Omaha, NE; Alla Soroka, Project Manager for This Child Here; and Amgad Belawi, World Mission Area Coordinator for Middle East, Central Asia and Europe. We are honored and privileged to have them come to visit and hear about the work we are doing in the Odessa region of Ukraine.

They All Look Like Angels

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They all look like angels.


but youth and children in orphanages, shelters, along with “at risk” kids in public schools have needs like any other youth person and more so: healthy self-esteem, a strong sense of identity, personal boundaries, and the ability to trust.  You see them here above and below along with foster parents from Ukraine we train to take kids in, the staff (bottom) and Project Manager, Alla Soroka, who make the work of This Child Here possible.

questions nite Girls from The Way Home


krasnova 4 in march 2015




DSC_0193  Foster Parent Training



DSC_0105  Some of our staff

alla soroka project manager   Alla Soroka

DSC_0010Robert Gamble

Refugees from the East

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I took these photos in Odessa in March: children from eastern Ukraine who know nothing of the politics of war or a crashing economy. Transported from Lugansk, Ukraine to a region called Kuyalnik, they live in what was once a premier health clinic (called a sanatorium) and place of rest of the Soviet Union, located on the edges of Odessa, Ukraine. The Way Home, a Ukrainian charity, funds a kindergarten program. This Child Here, our American non profit pays for English lessons for elementary and high school students. Most families in this location have a member suffering from physical disabilities, but not due to the war. In the background is home, a tall apartment building. According to The Way Home, 32,000 refugees from the east are living in the city of Odessa and 42,000 in the Odessa oblast, or state.




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Happy Easter and a scary thing

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Above:  Yulia and I during my speech to the team (gathered above) that does the work of This Child Here with youth and children in Ukraine–all trained by Alternatives to Violence ( now celebrating ten years in Ukraine).  Alla in red, our Project Manager, without whom none of this work we do would have been possible.

A scary thing happened on our recent trip to Odessa, Ukraine. Were living on the 6th floor of an apartment building near the large city market. One morning, sitting at my computer in the kitchen, I smelled something burning. Did you light a candle, I asked Yulia, or some incense? It must be the neighbors cooking, she said, but it smells like burning paper. Some time passed, but the burning smell grew stronger. I opened our door. Smoke was pouring out from under and around our neighbor’s door.

Our neighbors apartment is on fire! I took the elevator to the bottom floor to tell security, came back and stepped out onto our balcony to see smoke coming out of our neighbor’s window.

We started throwing things in bags and suitcases, pulling coats out of the closet in preparation for evacuation. From the layout of the building, a large fire in our neighbor’s apartment could block our escape. Then people began arriving, someone had a key and they went into the apartment. There was a lot of smoke, a fire was under the sink and burning the cabinets. It would have been a larger fire except there were two bottles of water stored under the sink. The bottles burst, weakening the fire. Soon things were under control. The fire was extinguished and windows and doors were opened to clean the air.

As anyone who lives in Ukraine knows, bottles of water are kept in case the water to the apartment is turned off, a regular occurance in Ukraine. I remember when I first arrived in Odessa in 2006, walked into my apartment, and wondered why the tiny bathroom was lined with water bottles. The first time the water stopped, I knew why. I saw all those candles too, in the drawer. And I thought. These people like candles! When the electricity went off, I knew why.

So the habit of preparing for one problem accidentally helped with another, greater one: the catastrophic problem of fire in an apartment building.

A few days after the fire, I was in a room with twenty five people, all who have been trained in the programs of Alternatives to Violence. This organization has a global reputation. Members work in prisons, schools, and with anyone who seeking alternatives to violence in their work and lives. They work with the issues of domestic violence, mistrust, and prejudice. Most of them work for This Child Here. We use their skills with youth and children who live in orphanages and shelters. Many of those children have suffered emotional trauma. At the most basic level, we help these kids communicate with each other, support and trust each other.

I told them the story (in the photos above) of the fire, how all that work they do with recurring problems of youth and violence has prepared them and put them in place to address another kind of violence:  not rockets, guns and artillery, but the wave of mistrust among people across a country where neighbors are now enemies and nations are at war.

Easter 2014 

Robert Gamble



Going to Ukraine

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We fly to Ukraine this Monday, Feb 23rd and return March 12th.


Scenes from a workshop this month in the Teenage Rehabilitation Center of Odessa, Ukraine with familiar faces and new ones, helping kids open up and encouraging self-awareness and reflection on their own behavior. It’s all about about kids adapting to new kids in the center and checking those non-constructive emotions.




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New Citizen, New Country, New Name: Yulia Gamble

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On Friday, January 16th, my wife, Yulia became a U.S. citizen. Sixty seven people from thirty nine countries along with family members, stood in a room on the fifteenth floor of the Peter Rodino Federal building in Newark. Like other family members, I stood off to the side to watch Yulia, renouncing princes, potentates, and other sovereignties, singing the national anthem, pledging to the flag, swearing her allegiance to America, a new citizen of a new country with a new name:  Yulia Gamble


“I just wanted to see whether I like it or not… And I liked it.”

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“I just wanted to see whether I like it or not… And I liked it.”


Beginning in 2015, we will be paying the college education of girl named Zhanna. Zhanna Ismailova grew up in a large family without a father in a small village in the Odessa area, and for a while lived in the shelter of The Way Home, non-profit charity in Odessa. Zhanna loves to cook and planning to study a restaurant business. Last summer she worked at a restaurant in Odessa as a chief cook`s assistant. According to her, she wanted give it a try, “I just wanted to see whether I like it or not… And I liked it!” She liked it enough to take what money she had and pay for a half a year of her education, but soon realized that she could not continue working and studying at the same time. She asked This Child Here for help. We said yes.  We will pay her tuition, room and books.
Our thanks to all who support This Child Here, we wish all the best for Zhanna on her way!


December News

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This Child Here has been funding Mariam for the past 4 years through university toward her degree in psychology. Here she is speaking to the Association of Psychologists and Psychotherapists of Odessa, Ukraine… From life on the streets, to life at The Way Home, to a lifetime of possibilities. 10806430_959511004076793_1607788404468643581_n

I couldn’t have celebrated a better gift this Christmas.


May all your Christmas dreams come true,

Robert Gamble

November News

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THIS CHILD HERE: In a world of violence, we are training people to hope and trust.



We read and hear much about violence today: Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Israel, Palestine, Ukraine, Ferguson Mo.  Below are the images of those being trained with the curriculum of Alternatives to Violence in Odessa, Ukraine.  What will they do with it?  Teach youth and children the skills of communication, the gift of healthy self-esteem, the value of trust

I always get a lift when I see the energy of these people and the hope they have for a better world in Ukraine.

See to the bottom where we are improving on some smiles.

Robert Gamble


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