I have worked for 38 years for the Manitoba Government and thought I understood something about bureaucracy. It has been taken to a whole new level in
and I still have a lot to learn. There is a real scarcity of government resources in Ukraine when it comes to doing something positive for its citizens such as repairing a poor road. However there is no shortage of those same resources when it comes to controlling its citizens. Some examples may be of interest. Ukraine
Another frustrating bureaucratic experience of the last week was dealing with the changing ownership of the Mennonite Centre’s car. There has been a lengthy dispute regarding a fee that should be paid when the centre had to change the registered ownership from one individual to another. (Why the centre has to register its car in an individual’s name is another bureaucratic story.) After numerous phone calls and several trips to Tokmak, we felt the dispute was settled when we paid the requested fee of $2.50. It may not be settled and may even require a trip on our part to Zaporozhe to get more documents. Always more documents.
The frustrating part of these experiences is the terrible drive to Tokmak over a road that has more pot holes than actual pavement. The cars weave and bounce and frequently hit bottom as they navigate this treacherous road. One day we had 2 flat tires on that stretch of road as a result of bending the rims in a sharp pot hole. Just using the salaries of a few useless bureaucrats would have been enough to finance the reconstruction of the road. That is not the way a former civil servant should be speaking but ….
Had a short visit from two Canadian families exploring their Mennonite roots in the area. Both families were from the
in Christ Mennonite (Holdeman) congregation. The women were more conservatively dressed and the men both had beards, as is the custom in that church. One of the families is working in the Church of God city of Ukraine as missionaries and the other family was visiting from Kharkov . It was amazing that they knew which villages their ancestors had lived in as they are descended from Mennonites who immigrated to Canada in the 1870’s. Their story has obviously been passed on for many generations. We had a very pleasant visit with them and Dema stated that he is considering converting to their faith as it will save him the effort of shaving every day. Canada
The meeting was memorable for Mary and I also for a very different reason. One of the councilors got up to read a motion and as she went past the head table, she casually borrowed the eye glasses that the chairperson was wearing. He relinquished them without any fuss. No one thought anything of it. In
, it would be the equivalent of the Governor General having difficulty reading the Speech from the Throne and walking over to the Prime Minister to borrow his glasses. It would make the national news. I am glad I wasn’t asked for my glasses as I know I would have hesitated and caused an embarrassment. I am still learning. Canada
For more information on the work of the Mennonite Centre, please go to:
For information on the work of the Mennonite Economic Development Association (MEDA) in Ukraine, you can see an excellent Ukraine Youtube video produced last fall by a Winnipeg Mennonite film producer: