Observations from Ukraine - Gabe Sturley by Donna Wood

Logon to and you will see that Odessa in the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine is a thriving industrial and trading complex known as the Pearl of the Black Sea with access to trading routes from the Central and Northern Europe to the Near East and Asia crossing.  It would appear the Odessa government offers priority support to the needs of various industry branches located in their city. “Thanks to the beautiful sanatoriums, beaches and recreation complexes, Odessa attracts a lot of tourists, especially in summer. Tourist business is attractive and profitable.”  Because of its many educational establishments, theaters, museums, libraries and other cultural and educational profile establishments, the city is known all over the as the economical and the cultural center of Ukraine. According to the web site, the “city’s main treasure is its inhabitants. They have always been known for their business astuteness, initiative and tolerance. Odessa is the only city in Ukraine which has so many nationalities living in it and having really great relationships with each other. From their very childhood, the Odessites are being brought up in the atmosphere of hospitality, warm-heartiness and wicked humor, that’s why no feuds have ever happened and will never happen here.  Odessa’s doors are always open for cultural and business cooperation!”

This glowing description of Odessa and the Ukraine seems a far cry from what the ‘throw away’ children of whom Gabe Sturley, our Rotary speaker for our September 9 meeting, spoke as he described his experience of, and his work with, orphans in the Odessa area.

Gabe’s experience started with learning how to speak Russian.  “Russian is not Spanish,” he said.  It also presents several awkward challenges because of similar pronunciations of such words as ‘with’ and ‘urinate.’  But language is not the only challenge.  Roads are so full of pot holes that only the drunk drive straight.   And the economy, from Gabe’s perspective, “is a joke.”  People earn an average of $200-300 per month and corruption and bribery are a way of life.  Renewing their visas took twenty-one trips to government offices. 

But an even greater tragedy, from Gabe’s perspective, is the 250,000 orphans living within the Ukraine.  Most of the children are not orphans because of their parents’ deaths, but because they have been “discarded like trash.”  One person asked him why he was spending his time working with orphans told him “those type of children we have no use for.”  Perhaps this is the reason that 70% of orphan boys enter into organized crime and 60% of the girls become prostitutes.  These children live in “a dark culture within a hostile world.” 

Are there opportunities for education?  There are public schools.  Most attend school through 9th grade after which they have an opportunity to enter trade school.  Others attend through 11th grade and are ‘qualified’ to attend one of the many colleges and universities, though for orphans this is not their reality.

Gabe, his wife and the people with whom they work are working to change the bleakness and offer a different kind of future for the children they serve.  It is a challenge in an environment where more people have access to cell phones than to clean drinking water and where alcoholism is rampant.  They experience their successes not in terms of numbers, but in the individual lives changed such as the young man who, when asked to share his goals, said his goal was to “not beat my wife, be kind to my children and to get and keep a job to support them.”


Next Mount Hough Trail Workday on October 19

Quincy volunteers! We are so excited to host a special Mount Hough Trail workday to kick off this amazing project that is 5 years in the making!

We are proud to partner with the Mount Hough Ranger District on this special project. The folks in this district understand the important of more trails and specifically multi-use trails. We are excited to help make this a reality. Trails for motos, horses, hikers, bikers and everyone else!

*** This is the first of our monthly trail work days in Quincy on the Hough. Next Trail workday, October 19thStay tuned for details of each months meeting location and details! 


Project Overview-

The Mt. Hough Ranger District is incorporating existing non-motorized trails in the South Park area and motorized trails in the Mt. Hough area into the National Forest System trail network. This will involve the reconstruction of existing trails as well as some new trail construction. Existing trails causing resource damage or concerns will be re-aligned. 16.6 miles of non-motorized trails and 35 miles of motorized trails (21.4 miles of single-track, 11 miles of quad trails, and 2.6 miles open to all vehicles) are being included in the National Forest System trail network System trail network. 

Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship provides:

  • tools
  • breakfast (bagels and coffee)
  • sack lunch
  • after work party at Pangaea!

You bring:

  • backpack
  • layers
  • hat/sunglasses
  • work gloves
  • close toed shoes
  • sunscreen
  • rain coat (weather permitting)

Sponsored by:

  • Pangaea! Meet us after trail work for food, and libations! Food provided by Pangaea and libations provided by The Brewing Lair.