Friday, March 16, 2007

Musings Along the Road

Thinking a lot about roads lately ---roads taken and not taken; about getting on a road that leads in the right direction; about being able to navigate without getting stuck; questioning the advisability of taking shortcuts as the best way to a destination.

Literally this is our experience as we travel the highways and byways in this land of our forefathers and mothers. Here and there we come across stretches of cobblestone, laid down by our ancestors those many years ago, still standing the test of time. No need to circumvent huge potholes whose depth one can only guess at especially after a rain. But such are the exception. More often we just have to go for it, or through it, or around it, hoping to come out safely at the other side.

Looking at the bigger picture, our experiences this week lead us believe that Ukraine is on a slow road to recovery. Is this road leading to better health care? A small example. As the pensioners were having lunch at the Mennonite Centre a van stopped by. Women were given the opportunity to come along to a clinic for a free mammogram. Only three responded on the spur of the moment. Others were told that there would be another opportunity next week.
Is this road leading to better employment opportunities? The Mennonite Centre has been providing scholarships, giving some capable young people the opportunity of higher education. Three aspiring social workers are about to graduate, preparing to assist people in dealing with the many social problems existing here. Two are already working with our Mom's Group and with seniors.
Does this road have room for entrepreneurs? A farmer in one of the former Mennonite villages tells of his struggle over the years to efficiently work his land. Ingenuoulsy, he has built a tractor and other implements by welding scraps together, but now dreams of something better. In order get ahead he is asking for assistance - not a handout, but a loan. He has visions and goals all mapped out.
Does this road lead to greater ethical responsibility? Twice this week we were given quotes for prospective purchases, both times given the "official price" and the other, much lower, the "under-the-table price". The shadow economy is alive and doing well. We realize that there aren't always easy answers. If a household income is $300 a month, and often even less, and illness strikes or other expenses loom, what road will be taken? Last week the Kutuzovka Mennonite church had a series of seminars on biblical ethical living. We attended three of these. A guest speaker from Stuttgart Germany had been invited and spoke dynamically on issues of money, marriage, relationships etc. People are coming and listening.
Modelling a straight and narrow way; exploring and granting opportunities for betterment - those are some of our challenges here.

1 comment:

Ernie Block said...

Hi, Rudy and Hildegarde,
Glad you got to your destination safely. The roads seem challenging, both literally and in your work. The best to you as you tackle both.
It seems a lot has happened since you were there on your last assignment.

Ernie and Elfrieda