What began as a dream is now the talk of the town.

Viacheslav Yukhymets and his wife, Tatiana, Directors of the Korosten Samaritan Shelter, had a dream. For many years, they wished they had a way to make the retirement home more sustainable. “At the same time, we were looking for ways to encourage the widows to become more physically active and to give them joy in their remaining years,” said Viacheslav.

“I would look out the window at our parking lot as I thought about solutions,” he said, “and then it came to me. We needed a garden.”

In Ukraine, people love and depend on their gardens. A garden would be an invitation to the widows to get outside, to work in the dirt, to remember their love of growing their own produce. The garden would supplement the widow’s groceries making the center more sustainable. Perhaps they could even grow enough to share with SMU’s other ministries.

The solution was before them. There was parking available on the street. The parking lot could become a large garden! With Viacheslav and Tatiana’s guidance and a crew of men from the Vigoda New Life Center, the work began in earnest this past spring.

Now there is a large, productive garden where the parking lot existed. It has three main sections growing potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, strawberries, onions, radishes, and greens. The vegetables are fresh and within hands reach.

“I remember my kitchen garden when I am out weeding the garden, “ said one of the widows. “I am eager each day to see what is peeking out from the soil.”

“There is nothing better than eating a strawberry,” said another widow, “that you have grown with your own labor. It just tastes better.”

“Our dream, our hopes, our hard work, and the investment of SMU supporters, resulted in a beautiful garden tended, in part, joyfully by the widows,” said Viacheslav. “It is a thing of beauty and joy!”

In fact, the garden is so well kept, people are talking about it all over town.

Juliya Kuchinskaya,
SMU International Board Member