Friday, October 30, 2009

Swine Flu (H1N1) in Ukraine

Two Ukrainian girls cover their faces in Lviv

In the last few days it seems as though Ukraine has been hit hard by the swine flu, often referred to here as the "California Swine Flu" strain. All the news channels are buzzing about the epidemic that is filling all the hospitals and clinics with patients. It's an interesting situation as schools are being closed and quarantines are being implemented. It is likely that travel restrictions will also be imposed between regions. Please pray for Ukraine and all of us here.

Here are some exerts from the news:

From the Kyiv Post

Ukraine closed schools and banned public meetings including election rallies and restricted travel on Friday for a three-week period after confirming its first death from H1N1 flu.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko announced the measures, saying the virus had reached epidemic levels in three parts of western Ukraine, where there has been an outbreak of respiratory illness since mid-October.

"All educational institutions without exception ... will be put on a three-week holiday period," Tymoshenko said. She indicated this could be extended if necessary.

"Apart from this, we will cancel all mass meetings ... for three weeks," she told an emergency government session. "We will introduce a special system to stop unnecessary travel from one region to another."

"We are considering (imposing) a quarantine not only in the west but also across the country, because the virus is spreading very fast," Health Minister Vasyl Knyazevych told reporters.

In Lviv, the main town in one of the affected regions and normally bustling on a Friday, there were significantly fewer people on the streets. Those who were wore handkerchiefs and scarves across the lower part of their faces.

"There is nothing in the pharmacies. What can I say? There is no medicine at all?" said one woman, Maria Shalyazhinska, queuing outside a pharmacy.

"How come nobody knew this epidemic was coming? Children are sick. The elderly are sick. There are no masks. People are queuing and waiting for supplies to come but nobody knows if they will come or not."

The AFP reported:

Ukraine confirmed its first swine flu deaths, prompting Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to order schools and cinemas closed and ban public gatherings for three weeks to contain the spread of the virus.

The government will also introduce "special regimes" to limit the movement of Ukraine's citizens from one region to another for non-urgent purposes, she said. Ukraine has borders with four EU countries.

The prime minister's tough actions came as Ukraine confirmed four deats from the A(H1N1) virus, amid a growing panic over several dozen unexplained deaths in the west of the country.

"We can say today that Ukraine has entered into the zone of the swine flu epidemic," Health Minister Vassyl Kniazevich said.

It's interesting to note that these guys in Lviv had no problem lowering their surgical mask for a shot of horilka (vodka). The news said that we should be eating soups made with onion and beets, but no mention of horilka to fight off the flu. Maybe I missed that part.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Maxime Returns

Maxime with new clothes
Maxime opening up a little care package from America

Yesterday, Maxime returned from his trip to a sanatorium (a place for resting usually with very spartan accommodations) in the city of Zhytomyr. He spent the last twenty days there passing his time by playing on a small indoor playground. He said the food wasn't very good and it was mostly old people staying there. He was alone and had little more than the clothes on his back when he left here. I'm pretty sure he was glad to be back.

When Maxime came to our door we had a box of clothes waiting for him that had come from a family in Kansas. The box was packed full of clothes that he really needed and even a bag of Jolly Rancher candies that he was nice enough to share with Dominic and Joshua. Maxime later went to church with us and spent the night before going off to school this morning for the first time since his father died. He actually ate so much at dinner last night that he thought he was going to be sick. Thanks again to everyone who has offered to help out with Maxime. It has been much appreciated.

Maxime with new clothes
Maxime in his new clothes

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Walk in the Park with Friends

Edna, Valya, Olya, and Dominic
Edna, Valya, Olya, and Dominic in Park Oleksandria

On Saturday, our friends from Chernihiv came over to visit and spend the night with us here in Bila Tserkva after visiting a nearby orphanage. We had so much fun with these two crazy girls. The church in Chernihiv is fortunate to have them. I'm sure they're a blessing to the body of believers there.

Valya and Olya with a Chinese Woman
Valya and Olya with a famous Chinese woman

On Sunday morning before church, we took them on a short tour of the park nearly walking Valya to death (but she still had fun). The Fall colors in the park are more spectacular each day.

Edna, Olya, Dominic, Joshua, and Valya
Edna, Olya, Dominic, Joshua, and Valya enjoying the view.

Valya and Olya
Of course we couldn't let them leave without getting their picture with Taras, our hedgehog.

Thanks guys for all the laughter you filled our home with.