We walk the streets of Molochansk and ask ourselves some questions. Has anything changed since we were here last, 15 months ago? As we dodge the potholes and large concrete blocks covering sewer openings we notice that roads have deteriorated further. Cars weave from one side of the road to the other to avoid obstructions. We see that two of three service stations in town are now abandoned. We are told that these two had tried to undercut the price of the state gas station by watering down the gas. They haven't survived. There are still cars on the road indicating that some people have jobs. We arrive at the main street and pop into some of the little stores. Prices on almost everything have risen considerably. According to World Bank figures, since the economic downturn in 2008, the Ukraine hryvnia has lost about 40% of its value against the US dollar. Understandably this is having a devastating effect particularly on seniors and the unemployed. The good news is that Ukraine is expecting a very good grain harvest this year which could help stabilize prices.
Looking across the street and seeing the town duck pond, reminds us of our Mennonite past. As we wander around it, we muse and wonder what it may have looked like then - a hundred years ago or more. Was it a gathering place? Might it have been a place for a romantic tryst? Situated in the centre of town and lined with poplars to the west, it still holds charm. A year ago the townspeople planted more than 100 trees around its perimeter; only a few hardy ones survive.
We continue our walk, turning the corner toward home. Soon we come across the backyard of the Mennonite Centre. We hear children's excited voices and as we come closer we see many children, young and older, playing games. This is the regular Sunday afternoon Sunday School run by the Kutuzovka Mennonite Church. We offer use of the building and yard enabling many town children to attend - we counted more than 30.
If you wish to contribute to the work of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine make your Canadian cheques to "Friends of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine" or "FOMCU". Cheques from American donors should be made out to "MFC-FOMCU". All cheques should be mailed to George Dyck, Treasurer, 3675 North Service Rd. Beamsville Ontario, Canada L0R 1B1 Check our website at http://mennonitecentre.ca/ for information on credit card giving.