April 26, 2018

Message from the director

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Anne Linden

After struggling for five years, we’d finally begun to have an impact in Western Ukraine thanks largely to a contribution from the National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome in the United Kingdom (NOFAS-UK) and the work of two volunteers: Mary Hnatkovsky and Oxana Boichuk. But that was before the protests in Maidan and the Russian invasion of Crimea.

NOFAS-UK gave us the right to use its video A Child for Life in Ukraine. Doctors with international reputations for expertise dealing with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) share the stage with mothers and siblings of children with FAS in this honest, powerful and often heart wrenching depiction of living with this disability. In our opinion, if this film does not convince viewers that unprotected sex and alcohol could be a lethal combination – a risk clearly to be avoided – no video can. We are indeed grateful for NOFAS-UK’s generous support.

Mary Hnatkovsky

Mary Hnatkovsky

Volunteer Mary Hnatkovsky has assumed responsibility for the subtitling, duplicating and more recently the dubbing of A Child for Life in Ukrainian in addition to trilingualizing our website. Both are still works-in-progress but without Mary’s help, neither could have been attempted.

Oxana Boichuk

Oxana Boichuk

It’s thanks to Volunteer Oxana Boichuk’s determination and creative networking that I was interviewed on Radio Maria, the Ukrainian voice of the Catholic Church and that as Susan Fleisher NOFAS-UK’s Executive Director put it, “You are not just doing well, you are phenomenal” when referring to the number of people who, thanks to Oxana’s effort, had seen A Child for Life during the first three weeks of September.

Helped by Kolomiya Deputy Mayor Ihor Hradil, we were able to show the video to over 100 people: educators, doctors, psychologists, police officers, people working with alcoholics and in social services, many of whom work with individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder as well as students attending the local medical college. (See photo)
Among those in the audience was Dr. Oleh Tokarchuk, the head of Children’s Hospital who after the presentation assured us that what we are doing is critical, that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome must be eliminated.

Others who, thanks to Oxana, saw A Child for Life during this period included the staff of Kolomiya’s Rehabilitation Center, a pre-marital class being given in Ivano-Frankivsk’s Greek-Catholic Church of Birthing of St. Maria (photo), viewers of Kolomiya Channel NTC TV program “Everything without Policy“ hosted by the podiatrist Natalia Karpenko and members of the faculty of the Boarding School for Children with Special Needs in Pechenizhen.

Dr. Lyubov Yevtushok, Neonatologist and Medical Coordinator of our partner OMNI-Net Ukraine’s Birth Defects Prevention Program arranged for me to participate in a televised round table discussion about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome prevention attended by educators, doctors, people working in human services and the media during which I showed A Child for Life.