Cemeteries - city and rural
Cemeteries are a reminder of honoring the departed and the sacrifice of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers - victims of the on-going war against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Older and rural cemeteries grow unkept, as city cemeteries fill with newly placed graves - and the mourners who visit and upkeep the graves with flowers, photos, rosaries and memorabilia.
Chernobyl/Pripyat - 30 years later
My one-day private tour of the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986 shows the abandonment and desolation of an area forever uninhabitable to humans. What remains are the ghostly reminders of human civilization being reclaimed by nature, and the abundance of wildlife and habitat. Being there in person allowed me to first-hand experience a haunting and desolate environment caused by Soviet mismanagement, poor construction and human error - and not by natural forces such as in Fukishima.
For that reason, I wish to communicate to my viewers and audiences that irresponsible development and application of our energy resources results in catastrophic consequences affecting our planet and those who inhabit it. I have been invited to address an audience at an EPA conference this fall, and I am currently preparing similar PP presentations to the energy industries, HAZMAT, health and environmental groups, emergency responders, college and high school science classes.
Churches - city and rural
After 75 years of communism and the attempted extermination of religion, the expression of Christian faith is again expressed by the renovation and building of churches in the big cities and the in the countryside. Architectural building materials range from wood, brick, concrete, stone and marble topped with sparkling gold-leaf domes and styles developed under Western classical, Polish-Lithuanian, Russian and Austro-Hungarian influences.
Countryside and Villages
The natural beauty of the countyside, and women of Ukraine, are a reminder of God's creation (and gift to mankind). The Holodomor (famine/genocide) was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1922-23 that killed an estimated 8 million Ukrainians - the first and only attempt in world history to eradicate an ethnic group via starvation. The rich dark soil and the vast fields of poppy, beet, potatoes, barley, corn, wheat and other food products have earned Ukraine the nickname "bread basket of Europe." In addition, food processing, especially sugar processing, is an important industrial segment. Nearly one out of four workers in Ukraine is employed in agriculture or forestry related endeavors.
English Catechetical Summer Camps - 2016
The Sisters of St. Basil hosted four week-long summer camps with 15 volunteers from the USA who taught English to 200 middle school children in Rudno, Mukachevo, Ivano-Frankivs'k and Zhytomyr. The camp also hosted orphans from eastern Ukraine, victims of the on-going war against Russian-backed separatists.
A tour of this city reveals it's architectural heritage blended with the modern sites and sounds of city life. The city is home to six universities. In the early months of 1919 (from January to May) the city became a temporary capital of the West Ukrainian National Republic, while still recovering from World War I.
Kyiv and Independence Square
Kyiv with a population of 3 million is the capital and largest city in Ukraine and center of government, finance, culture, transportation, education and commerce. Founded 1500 years ago, it is one of the oldest cities and 7th most populous in Europe. It is famous for its rich architecture, golden domes, cultural life and stunningly beautiful women. The Dnieper River flows past Kyiv and is the longest in Ukraine, and 4th longest in Europe - flowing south into the Black Sea.
Kyiv - Maidan Memorials in Independence Square
The 2013-14 demonstrations against the corrupt government of President Victor Yanukovych resulted in the random killing of 100 unarmed demonstrators by government snipers, whose reminders are enshrined with the body outlines of victims, photos and memorabilia along Kiev's main streets leading into Independence Square.
As the largest largest city in western Ukraine and population of 750,000, Lviv is also one of the main cultural centers of Ukraine and reflects its history and of survival of occupation by Polish, Lithuanian, Hapsburg, Nazi and Soviet Russia's rule. Small shops and cafes, elegant facades of buildings, beautiful and original design showcases the exteriors of historic buildings in the downtown area.
With beginnings in the late 10th century, Christianity in Ukraine is rooted in its monasteries for the recruitment and training of priests, monks and nuns of the Orthodox and Catholic faiths. Churches, bell towers and restoration of architecture now resumes after the liquidation, burning, destruction and confiscation of property and assets under 75 years of Soviet rule.
The Carpathian Mountains are home to several ethnographic groups distinguished by their unique dialects and folklore traditions including Lemkos, Boikos and the Hutzuls. The mountains are the second largest in Europe and provide habitat for Europe's largest populations of bears, wolves, foxes and lynxes.
The Sisters of St. Basil provide love, caring and a sense of purpose in caring for the mentally disabled children, some from congenital birth defects from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, and others coming from families challenged and unable to financially provide the care needed.
Sisters of St. Basil the Great
The Sisters of St. Basil the Great prepare children for first Confession and Holy Communion, running Sunday schools, and organizing youth groups, retreats for girls and children’s summer camps. They visit the sick in hospitals and give food and shelter to those in need. Persecuted by the Soviet authorities for 75 years and forced underground, they now rely on the solidarity of the sisters in America for material and spiritual assistance.
Located west of Kyiv, important economic activities of Zhytomyr include lumber milling, food processing, granite quarrying, metalworking, and the manufacture of musical instruments. It is an important transportation hub, and the Sisters of St. Basil have a newly built church and renovated monastery for religious services and education programs to the public.