Richard (right) and Maureen Flanagan with their distant family from Lipovka.

“I love being part of life changing experiences,” shared Alex Brzhezytsky, National Director of Samaritan Ministries Ukraine.

“Last June I had privilege to meet a couple from Montreal area. Richard and Maureen Flanagan in search for their ancestral village of Lipovka. A very distant relative, Antonina Ziert, was still alive and had a big family — two children and seven grandchildren.

“When we came to the small village of Lipovka, Antonina’s family prepared a great dinner for us. Vadym, one of Atonina’s grandsons, drew my attention. He was deaf and communicated with gestures. He invited me to play chess. I was surprised how well he played. I like chess and was eager to play with him again and again.

Vadym at the doctor's office.

“Richard told me later that he would like to help Vadym with hearing aids and asked me to assist. It touched my heart that this little guy would have a chance to hear!

“Later, when I returned to the village, Vadym’s mother, Ludmila, told me her life story. She was married twice and both of her husbands died as a result of alcoholism and left her with seven children. When Vadym was only four, he had meningitis and lost his hearing. At first, he was able to hear a little and attended first and second grade but eventually lost his hearing totally. Ludmilla could not afford hearing aids. Vadym is now 14 but his academic knowledge is still at the second grade level.

“When I came to his village to drive him to the doctor in Zhytomyr, he was able to communicate with me using his usual gestures and showed me the fish he caught and what he did with it. He was clearly very bright.

“After the doctor’s visit, I took Vadym to McDonald’s for the first time in his life! He was so excited!

First time in McDonalds.

“With the generous help of Richard and Maureen Flanagan, Vadym has a chance to hear again. It’s a long process as his left ear lost 90% and right ear 60%. He will need to attend a special school. But I’m personally excited that Vadym will hear again. This is truly life changing for him.

“For me, it is truly a blessing to be used by God, to assist in bringing about changes in people’s lives, and to see lives transformed.”

Alex Brzhezytsky, National Director of Samaritan Ministries Ukraine