Ukraine Day 4 – Sarah Vaughn

We started the day by visiting a woman’s house in a village on the outskirts of Zhytomyr. She had just bough this house and needed a lot of help renovating it to make it more like a home for her and her family . It was too expensive to repair her last home, so Last Bell helped her find the funds to move to this house with her husband and young son. We cleared some branches out of the driveway and yard and burned all of them in burn piles around the property. We also scraped the old weathered paint off of the house and repainted the window frames and doors.

After we completed this work, we went to an Italian restaurant in the nearby area and had pizza together as a team with some of the men in Restoration Project. At the restaurant, we got creative and combined all types of local juices, including flavors like pomegranate, peach, pineapple, and banana juice. As they were making the food, we visited a park down the road that had a bunch of sculptures made by a famous local artist. They had statues of people like Albert Einstein, as well as flowers, fish, and other intricate designs. 

Later, we went to the Day Center, had some coffee, and re-grouped before our trip out to the trade school. We all got to talk with the students and faculty, exchanging stories and getting to know each other. We also got a tour of their facilities, and the women in charge were VERY excited there were Americans in their school. They each had cameras and took pictures of us as if we were famous. All of the students live together at the trade school in dorms and study for the different careers they would like to pursue. Something that really has stuck out to me in Ukraine is just how hospitable the people are. When we first arrived at the school, the teachers presented us with new journals….something that would probably cost them a lot of their paycheck, but they did it to welcome us and show their gratitude for us coming to visit. I thought that was the sweetest gesture.

Sharing stories, tea, and cookies with the trade school students and teachers.

After this, we went to a local sauna with the Last Bell staff. Picture this: an entire house rented out that included an upstairs den with Russian Billiards, and a downstairs that had an indoor pool (freezing), kitchen, and natural stone heated sauna. We spent time with the Ukrainian women putting on coffee face masks and getting to know each other while we sweated out just some of the bread we have eaten on this trip. It was great getting some time to relax and recharge for the next day.

Stone-steamed Russian sauna.

-Sarah Vaughn