Key people in charge of
The Mennonite Centre in Ukraine and its parent board in Canada

 1. In Canada - Friends of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine
Chairman of the eight member board - Ben Stobbe, Victoria, BC
Ben Stobbe Ben & book
              Ben Stobbe, far right, introducing visitors to the Centre in Ukraine   Ben returning a songbook printed a century ago next door to the Centre

Ben has been associated with the Friends of the Mennonite Centre for eight years.  He is currently the Board chair and has previously served as vice-chair. He has made several trips to Ukraine as a volunteer North American Director and as Board chair.

Ben enjoys the challenge of making this relatively small organization into an influential agent of change by improving the lives of Ukrainians who currently live in the former Mennonite secttlements of Southern Ukraine. He is also pleased to see how the Mennonite Centre continues to bring awareness to Ukrainians of the past Mennonite presence in the area.   Cell phone in Canada: 250-704-6026    E-mail:

 Treasurer of the Board of Directors - George Dyck, Vineland,ON
George Dyck
George Dyck on board the Dnieper Princess cruise ship in Ukraine
See a video from the 2008 Mennonite Heritage Cruise narrated by George Dyck

George has been associated with the Friends of the Mennonite Centre for nearly all of its eleven years.  He has organized the varenicki fundraising supper in Vineland for many years and has served the Board as chair, vice-chair, secretary, and currently as treasurer.  He has made numerous trips to Southern Ukraine, visiting remote former Mennonite villages, being a resource person for the Mennonite Heritage Cruise, and reviewing programs and finances at the Mennonite Centre in Molochansk. Currently he is also the editor of the Friends of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine Newsletter. E-mail:

2. In Ukraine
The Mennonite Centre is a social development agency inspired by Anabaptist principles of service to others
and follows in the footsteps of half a milenium of distinguished Mennonite service in many continents
We work with all faiths and constituencies in present day Ukraine, exhibiting a witness exemplified by this song

Oksana Bratchenko

Manager of the Mennonite Centre in Molochansk (formerly Halbstadt)

Oksana Bratchenko is our senior manager in Ukraine. She has worked at the Centre for six years, initially in a financial administrative role. In that capacity she has developed a very good understanding of Ukrainian financial requirements, the process of presenting and approving projects, and the administration of specific programs such as the medical and the student financial support program. Under her direction we have developed a good working relationship with local banks, licensing agencies, schools, hospitals and local government. More and more of that work can now be done on line.
Along with Olga Rubel she is active in co-ordinating refugee assistance programs with many government, community and faith-based agencies.

We are fortunate to have a strong group of staff who will continue to work with Oksana. Four of our day staff, have been at the Centre for more than ten years. We have recently hired a new staff member in charge of building, yard, and computers. All our day staff have taken computer training. In addition we have night watchmen who provide security. One watchman has been there since the Centre opened and others have joined our staff during the last five years. All our staff are on labour books which means that we pay all the required taxes for them. They also receive the state approved benefits such as vacation leave, sick leave, etc.

The staff comes from Russian and Ukrainian backgrounds. They work well together and are a model for others in supporting each other. Recently when one staff member had health care related financial issues, other staff contributed to her costs. They come from different faith groups. They represent different churches in the community: Baptist, Mennonite and Orthodox. Some have no church connections, but all have a love for their community, take pride in their work, and appreciate the support of  our donors.
Microsoft Word - 27. 2014 FOMCU WINTER NEWSLETTER a.doc
Oksana has three children, Katya, Dmitri, and Anya.

email -

Olga Rubel - Coordinator of Programs in Zaporozhye, Ukraine
Olga Rubel
Olga Rubel

Olga Rubel was born and raised in Zaporozhye.  She attended schools specializing in English and furthered her English studies at the Zaporozhye University. Her interests include sports and music.  She was a professional volleyball player for the "Orbita" team in the A-league of the former Soviet Union. Her father and mother sang in an amateur choir, they encouraged her interest in music. Olga plays piano and guitar and frequently sings at special events. Her husband Anatoly is an engineer working for the city of Zaporozhye. 

In the early 1990s Olga translated for many teachers at the Bible College in Zaporozhye who helped mature her spiritual life. She has been an interpreter for 19 years and has translated approximately 20 books.  Olga has a keen interest in working with schools and medical clinics in the former Mennonite villages surrounding Zaporozhye.

Olga and Anatoly have two sons.  Andrew is attending university in Kyiv and is a high-jumper and a member of the national track and field team. Alex is taking theological studies at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

mobile - +380664422743
email -

3. Transitioning between Canada and Ukraine - Volunteer Directors who spend terms of 2 to 3 months annually
Volunteer Directors are retired professionals. They serve without pay but are given airfare and a living allowance. They serve a very important role in modelling volunteerism.
The concept has been lauded by the Embassy of Canada in Kyiv as an effective strategy for successful Non Governmental Agencies.
It allows for a range of experienced retired persons to give significant help to needy communities and societies, crossing many boundaries and barriers.
The Mennonite Centre is most fortunate to have an outstanding rotation of volunteers with exemplary gender balance

Mary and Alvin Suderman, Winnipeg, MB
Alvin and Mary delivering groceries to a very needy family- the boy has no arms

Alvin and Mary Suderman served their first term as North American Directors in Ukraine in Spring, 2011.  Alvin retired as a manager for the government of Manitoba and Mary took an extended leave from nursing to volunteer in Ukraine.  While in Ukraine Alvin initiated and followed up programs and projects that were funded by the Friends of the Mennonite Centre in Ukraine. Maryís skill as a nurse was helpful in reviewing medical proposals.  They really enjoyed getting to know the staff and appreciate the opportunity to meet and help the villagers.
You a can read about their experiences at

Dave and Hildie Regehr, Gretna, MB

Dave and Hildie Regehr have served as North American Directors in Ukraine for five terms. Dave retired after 35 years at Mennonite Collegiate Institute  Gretna  Manitoba,  Hildie ran a business. Dave and Hildie were attracted to serve in Ukraine in the same area where their parents lived and his grandfather was a school teacher.  Dave and Hildie have a keen interest in music and really appreciate the wide-open fertile landscape of southern Ukraine. They love to go in Spring and see the transformation of the barren winter countryside into a land of flowers and new crops.  They have established close bonds with the village schools in the area.

You can read of their Ukraine experiences at

Hildegarde and Rudy Baerg, Abbotsford, BC
Baergs  Music school band
             Hildegarde, centre and Rudy, right, visiting a Ukrainian school    Music school band with new instruments courtesy the Baergs and Canadian donors

Rudy and Hildegarde Baerg have served as North American Directors at the Mennonite Centre and are planning to return to Ukraine for their sixth term in fall 2012.  After retiring, Rudy as Director of Music Programs at Columbia Bible College and Hildegarde as Community Health Services Manager, volunteered with MCC Ten Thousand Villages in Atlantic Canada.  Rudy also served as the music resource person for the Mennonite Heritage Cruises in Ukraine.  Among other things Rudy enjoys supporting music groups, choral and band, in Ukraine and Hildegarde delights connecting with young mothers in the Momís Group.  They appreciate working together with the staff , facilitating projects of the Mennonite Centre.

You can read of their Ukraine experiences at

Linda and Ben Stobbe, Victoria, BC

Ben and Linda Stobbe have served six terms as North American Directors at the Mennonite Centre. After retiring as Director of Adult Custody in the British Columbia Corrections Branch, Ben was approached to develop a short-term (up to three months) service opportunity for North Americans to come and help at the Mennonite Centre. To accommodate Lindaís piano teaching schedule, they have primarily served in the summer months.

Ben and Linda  enjoyed meeting and interviewing potential university students for the Mennonite Centre student financial support program.  Ben has also enjoyed meeting Social Services staff and Community Youth Justice staff.  Linda enjoys working with piano students at local music schools and has met with victims of breast cancer. They have found satisfaction in helping to develop a leadership team at the Mennonite Centre.
Linda Stobbe passed away April 9,2013

If you are interested to qualify as a Volunteer Director, please contact Ben Stobbe  Cell phone in Canada: 250-704-6026    E-mail:

To repeat
See blogs by Rudy and Hildegarde Baerg
See blogs by Dave and Hildie Regehr
See blogs by Alvin and Mary Suderman

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