I remember 15 years ago when we first moved to this beloved city Kyiv,which we call home, the first impressions about the people were warm. The people were kind, patient and encouraging as I struggled to be understood. They were also for the most part beautiful, handsome and ….thin! I realized after several months living among them that many had “becoming” cheekbones that were not suppose to be there. People eat here not for pleasure but the nutrition and they drain every last ounce of vitamin out of the vegetables and fruits they possibly can.
As the Faith Community Nursing Coordinator for Ukraine, I am always looking at the surroundings with a holistic(whole person) health perspective in mind and what I have found is this: Ukrainians are interested and concerned about their health. They almost always have a first and second course at their main meal to get as many vitamins and minerals as possible. the first course is a soup which is loaded with veggies and a bit of meat depending on the prosperity of the family. (These days there is less meat and even less vegetables because the national currency is losing value. This will be next post topic) The second course is usually a grain, kasha or porridge with a little bit of vegetable mixed in or on the side. They eat what is in season and can for the winter months. The pickled cabbage, ie sour krout, comes in all sorts of varieties depending on mom and grandmas tastes and spices, but they eat this for the nutritional value. But oh my when the celebrations are upon us…the salads, chicken cutlets and gulloptzie are to die for!!
The medical system by and large also treats people more holistically than say the United States. When treated for an infection with antibiotics one is frequently given medication to help protect the liver from the antibiotic toxins, and often a yogurt capsule is prescribed to protect the stomach. Thus the typical elderly Ukrainian household medicine cabinet is filled with medications for every organ in the body, and believe me you don’t want to know the procedure for cleaning out the liver!!
Exercise is now influenced by the west and fitness clubs are popping up all around the city, but mostly people have active lives and walk to the store,take public transportation which requires walking, and often have to walk up the stairs with groceries in hands.
Spiritually and emotionally there is a sadness these days which is palpable in Kyiv. I wouldn’t say it’s a hopelessness but just sad. “Who would have ever thought that in the 21st century we, Ukraine, would find ourselves at war again.” One said.
” I can’t believe my generation is experiencing this tragic situation …AGAIN! We watched our husbands go off to war and they didn’t come back and now our grandchildren are being killed. God have mercy.”
However God is also quietly moving here as well. People are praying more, asking hard questions and more thoughtful about the hard issues of life, and God is meeting them as He always does!
Please pray for these wonderful people who I call brothers and sisters and stand with me in caring for them.