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Humanitarian efforts in Central, Eastern Europe include medical equipment donations, charitable acts and mini-horse therapy

See how both the Church’s recent humanitarian efforts and angels of ‘the mortal kind’ are blessing thousands in Armenia, Hungary and Slovakia

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints added to its humanitarian efforts recently with donations in Central and Eastern Europe. 

The Church donated ophthalmic equipment to the new Talin Regional Ophthalmic Diagnostic Clinic in Armenia on Mar. 23. Also, the Church’s philanthropic foundation helped the Bethesda Children’s Hospital in Budapest, Hungary, to introduce children to Vertigo, a therapy mini-horse, as well as acquire medical equipment for the hospital’s intensive care unit and infant ward in March.

Other aid was taking place in Slovakia, in the form of what Elder Scott Kozak, a senior missionary serving in Slovakia and Poland as a humanitarian aid director, described as “two angels among us [coming] to the rescue.” Elder Kozak serves alongside his wife, Sister Kelly Kozak, and the two described “a tender mercy” they experienced during their service as they tried to provide firewood for a very impoverished Roma community near Karolov Dvor, Slovakia, last February.

Read more about these stories below.

Armenia

A doctor in a white lab coat talks with patients in a doctor’s office.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated ophthalmic equipment to the Talin Regional Ophthalmic Diagnostic Clinic at the Talin Medical Center in Talin, Armenia, on March 27, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

On Mar. 27, the Church donated ophthalmic equipment to the new Talin Regional Ophthalmic Diagnostic Clinic in Armenia. The Church continued to work with the Armenian Ophthalmology Project and the Talin Medical Center to open the clinic on April 25, reported ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

Project director Nune Yeghiazaryan gave thanks for the donation that made the Talin Clinic a reality. She explained that this clinic will be the sixth of its kind, saying, “This clinic is a part of a vision preservation program that was launched in 2015 in the regions of Armenia where they are most needed.” 

The clinic in Talin will provide early diagnosis and surgical intervention via laser capabilities to help eliminate preventable blindness, and could reach as many as 40,000 people living in Talin and the surrounding Aragatsotn area. The clinic will also provide their patients with free vision screening, diagnostics and laser treatments for those who previously struggled to receive care due to distance or cost.

Church representative Margarit Ayvazyan expressed joy for the coordination between the Church and the Talin Clinic, saying, “One of the purposes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to help and serve one another.”

Hungary

A newborn lies in a hospital cradle.
The Bethesda Children’s Hospital infant ward in Budapest, Hungary. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church has worked with the Bethesda Children’s Hospital in Budapest for the last six years, and earlier this year, donated medical equipment worth over 5 million Hungarian forint (approximately $15,500 U.S.) to the hospital, reported the Church’s Hungary Newsroom. Donations included a CPAP breath support device for the hospital’s intensive care unit and a Edan monitor for the infant ward.

Elder Clark Ayres and Sister Melody Ayres, a philanthropic missionary couple in Hungary, visited the hospital. Sister Ayres described their interactions with the nurses and patients, saying, “Bethesda’s doctors and nurses started using the devices the same day they arrived at their facility. Both they and the parents of some of the children currently undergoing treatment expressed their gratitude for the fact that the donated equipment can help their little one recover as soon as possible. We are inspired by Bethesda’s creed: ‘We heal with love!’”

The hospital staff asked the Ayreses if the Church would like to contribute to miniature horse therapy, a type of therapy in which the patients interact with a horse to calm their spirit and mind. The hospital staff had been using this kind of therapy for four years, and the Church supported another mini-horse visit that Elder and Sister Ayres attended with the children at the hospital.

A woman stands with a small horse in a blue covering in an open room.
Elder Clark Ayres and Sister Melody Ayres, with Vertigo, a therapy mini-horse, in the Bethesda Children’s Hospital in Budapest, Hungary. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The horse, named Vertigo, came to the children on the last day of Bethesda’s Early Childhood Eating Disorders Week. The children pet the therapy horse, led it around and fed it millet balls.

Slovakia

A blue truck full with firewood.
A truckload of firewood leaves the lumber yard for Karolov Dvor, Slovakia. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In Slovakia, Elder Scott Kozak and Sister Kelly Kozak, senior missionaries serving in Slovakia and Poland as humanitarian aid directors, described a true miracle that helped them provide firewood for a local Romani population in Karolov Dvor, Slovakia, and was shared on the Church’s U.K. Newsroom.

Roughly 80% of the Roma people in Europe live in abject poverty, including those in Karolov Dvor. The Kozaks were helping this community obtain firewood to power their stoves and provide heat for their humble dwellings, but the price for firewood was nearly double what it had been in recent years.

On the search for affordable firewood, Elder Kozak mentioned the Romani community’s struggle to his newfound friend, Joseph Molnar. Molnar asked his friend, Jozef Karahuta, who was in the lumber business, if there was anything he could do. Karahuta agreed to help the Kozaks and made a deal to supply firewood to the Romani community for a good price, for the rest of the winter.

“These two men were literally angels, who orchestrated a miracle of relief for people in desperate need,” said the Kozaks.

Sister Kozak met Ludmila, Joseph Molnar’s wife, in a store in their apartment building when Ludmila recognized Sister Kozak’s American accent. After a few minutes of talking, they discovered that they had lived near each other in Irvine, California, nearly 25 years prior.

The Kozaks recognized God’s hand in the two couple’s friendship, saying, “Our Heavenly Father continues to bless us with the resources we need to fulfill our mission assignment of blessing God’s children. And in some cases, those resources are some of His other children.”

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