Tetiana Fedchyshyna: “We are loved
and accepted here just as we are.”

The 2021 Family Retreat for сhildren with disabilities was held recently, becoming the third and final retreat for people with health problems organized this summer by the team of the Agape Ukraine Rehabilitation Complex together with Fimiam Church in Lutsk.


For five days, 25 boys and girls with disabilities and their families had the opportunity to spend time at the wonderful retreat center in the village of Zaozerne in the Lyuboml district. A full, interesting program was waiting for them. The children not only played games, memorized songs, or made something in the art classes, but they also learned English. They were helped with this by a team of Ukrainian Christians from Cleveland, Ohio.


It should be mentioned that each child had a volunteer who spent most of his or her time with the child. This gave parents the opportunity to attend interesting seminars conducted by Alexander Kovbasiuk, correctional teacher, speech therapist and director of the “Little Prince” correction and development center in Kyiv and Inna Nedozym, PhD, author of a method for developing social intelligence in children with autism spectrum disorders called “Outlook” and director of “Unique People” in Kyiv. In addition, the specialists consulted with mothers and fathers on a daily basis to provide useful advice on how to better work with children with disabilities.


Above all, everyone will remember the “Royal Party.” On that day, hairdressers were invited to the retreat to do beautiful haircuts and hairstyles for adults and children. In the evening, when the ladies donned evening dresses and the gentlemen wore white shirts with bowties, their appearance was unsurpassed.


The families also had many impressions and positive emotions on the day spent on the Small Zgoran Lake. Unfortunately, not all of them have frequent opportunities to visit picturesque nature, walk in the woods or swim in the open water. So both parents and children tried to fully enjoy the fresh air, warm water and God’s creation.


Andriy Smirnov from Kyiv was paralyzed after a severe spinal injury two years ago. He came to the Family Retreat with his mother for the first time. They said that they particularly liked the evening programs with competitions and games, the “Royal Party” and, of course, fellowship with American Ukrainians.


– “I also liked swimming,” remembers the teenager, “because I have not tried swimming since my injury. At first I was scared, but then I got used to it.”


Tetyana Fedchyshyna is the mother of a boy with cerebral palsy. She also enthusiastically shared her impressions of this year’s retreat:


– “We are loved and accepted here just as we are. We feel needed. Thank you very much for the opportunity to visit the retreat, for everyone who helped us and warmed us with his kindness.”


Each family received small gifts on the day of departure. Afterward, the parents and children stood in a circle and the team members one-by-one approached each of them to  give a hug and say goodbye. At this point, the realization came that in such a short time everyone became not only friends, but members of a huge family. So they will look forward to next summer and hope that no external circumstances will prevent them from reuniting and spending another unforgettable time together.