Videographer Documents Humanitarian Mission to Ukraine

Published 01.05.1999

Faculty & Staff

Making a difference in the lives of our less-fortunate world neighbors is the focus of an upcoming Pennsylvania College of Technology colloquium, "Effecting Positive Change: An Insider's View of a Humanitarian Mission to Ukraine."

The event is Thursday, Jan. 28, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., in the Lifelong Education Center Room A122. Bruce Huffman, producer/videographer in the Office of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning at Penn College, will show video footage and share insights from his October 1998 trip to Ukraine.

During the venture, Huffman joined nine other representatives from United Methodist churches in the Central Pennsylvania Conference to monitor the progress of the churches' charitable projects and to distribute additional funding. Among the stops on the group's itinerary were visits to three orphanages, a "goodwill" center, cerebral palsy center, rehabilitation facility, youth center and center for retired persons.

One team of five missionaries worked in the capital city of Kiev, while the other five were stationed in Bila Tserkva, a city of about 250,000 approximately 75 miles south of Kiev. The Rev. Ron Doan, pastor of the Faxon-Kenmar United Methodist Church in Loyalsock Township, led the Bila Tserkva teamthat included Huffman, also a member of the Faxon-Kenmar church.

According to Huffman, Ukraine became an independent state in 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the adoption of a new, democratic constitution.

Ukraine has many components of a major European economy rich farmlands, a well-developed industrial base, highly trained labor, and a good education system. However, significant difficulties are facing the new country. The present economy is in poor condition. While inflation rapidly increases, production continues to drop and the standard of living for most citizens has declined more than 50 percent since the early 1990s.

In response to this situation, United Methodist churches in the Central Pennsylvania Conference established a "Central Pennsylvania Ukraine Initiative," sending teams to Ukraine twice a year to serve as short-term missionaries.

On reporting back to his congregation, Doan stated, "Through these visits, relationships have been established and the beginnings of a United Methodist Fellowship have been formed. In this way, the Ukraine initiative has been able to create an atmosphere of trust and understanding between us and the people that God would have us serve."

For more information on this Penn College Professional Development Colloquium, contact the College at (570) 320-8036.