LAST UPDATED Dec 20, 2004
For Immediate Release December 7, 1997
For additional information contact the telephone number above
Ukrainian Gift of Life Child Has Audience with Archbishop Antony
Oleh Huch, a 13-year old boy from Ternopil, Ukraine saw his dreams come true when Archbishop Antony was able to take time from his busy schedule on Thursday, December 4th to visit with the boy and his mother. The audience was arranged by Stefania Bryant, an active parishioner of Ukrainian Orthodox Holy Ascension Church, Clifton and member of Ukrainian Gift of Life, Inc. Among the gifts which the Archbishop gave to Oleh and his mother was the prayerbook he used in the Seminary. The gift brought tears Mrs. Huch’s eyes. Asked why she was crying she said, "A few months ago, when Oleh was in Kyiv for an operation, a woman there had such a book of prayers. I loved it because it contained all the prayers I learned from my mother. Never did I believe I would possess such a prayerbook, especially the Archbishop’s own." The blessing of the Archbishop was very important to Oleh and his mother, who like most people who suffered religious oppression in Ukraine, are very devout and joyous to be able to express their faith.
The Ukrainian Gift of Life, Inc., a member organization of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, has brought eight children to the USA thus far for life-saving open heart surgery since June. Oleh has been the oldest child in the program to date and, with Vyacheslav Piskunov, recently returned to Ukraine after successful surgery. A third boy, Stepan Boyko is still in Montefiore hospital after a second ten-hour operation in four weeks.
Ukrainian Gift of Life, Inc. provides for the air transportation from Ukraine for a parent and the child. While the child is in the hospital, the organization insures that a translator is available when needed. Additionally, the group, which volunteers all of its available time, gives spiritual support to the mother and child, as well as logistical support to the host family. While Rotary International Clubs in New Jersey raise funds for the operation and provide the host family and local transportation; Ukrainian Gift of Life supplements their efforts when necessary. Stefania Bryant met the need by hosting Oleh and his mother when the local Rotary Club could not identify a host family for the Huch’s. George Kuzma, president of the organization, commented that "…the Lord’s hand is definitely at work in the life of Dina and Oleh. In this coincidence, Dina and Oleh found a family who would provide the nourishment they need in their faith and the support of Stefania’s two teenage children." Montefiore Hospital in Bronx, NY, the site of all operations thus far, charges a nominal amount and has provided outstanding medical, technical and nursing care.
Being in the presence of the children, who would not have hope for a normal life, if not for this program can be heart warming. "The rewards come when you witness the transformation from a sickly boy stepping off the airplane at JFK to a happy, playful young teenage boy as in the case of Oleh," said one Gift of Life member.
Nine more children are being evaluated by the Montefiore staff and reports are being prepared in Ukraine on an additional twelve children. There is an immediate need for funds to cover the costs of air transportation and other needs of the next group of children. Tax deductible contributions can be made to Ukrainian Gift of Life, Inc., Suite 333, 233 Rock Road, Glen Rock, NJ 07452.