During the day we filmed The Way Home's beach summer camp just outside of Odessa. Street kids are able to stay for the summer holidays and have fun at the seaside.
One girl had just run away from home. Her mother is alcoholic and forced her to beg on the streets for money to fuel her addiction. Another young boy Ruslan we were told was terrified of the water and now loves it. Here he is carrying my tripod back up from the beach.
Ruslan remember: sea water and sand do not mix with expensive camera equipment. Next time you'll be cleaning the lens!
The first part of filming in Odessa was to accompany the social patrol van of the local NGO called The Way Home. They look after around 30 children in their car centre and provide facilities for others to drop in.
An important element of their work is making contact with children who chose to stay out on the streets and avoid seeking help for whatever reason.
It was a hot day. I was exhausted from the train trip. Unable to check into my hotel, I had spent the morning wandering around Odessa in a daze but that changed at the first location the social patrol checked.
Adjacent to a McDonalds in an old garage or storage room we found 3 teenage boys. Their living conditions can only be described as squalid. The stench of faeces was almost overwhelming. Mountains of rubbish were piled up against their little cubby hole. I had to steady myself from vomiting and keep a steady shot.
One boy could not speak and had trouble walking. The two older boys (below) were more lucid.
The boy in the foreground told us that his brother died a week ago.
The Way Home staff provided the boys with food, water and gave them basic first aid for cuts and wounds from injecting drugs.
The usual drug of choice is glue for sniffing. Another is making a brew of what I understood to be an amphetamine based over the counter drug for injecting. We found many empty tubes of glue and needles.
I had read in Lonley Planet that there's a few points of etiquette to remember when travelling by trains in Ukraine. One them is to remember to bring something appropriate to wear for sleeping and getting around the train of an evening. Essentially you have to bring some sleep togs. I shared my compartment to Odessa with Olga - a financial director of a medium sized firm in Odessa. She bustled in with someone who I thought to be her husband. He sized me up and gave me that: 'listen kid, if there's any funny business here I'll kill you look.' But my anxiety was put at ease when Olga broke out into English and said he was only a friend not her husband.
Stationary, the trains are very stuffy but once the train moves the air-conditioning kicks in. The conductors are decked out in a quasi air hostess uniform that does quite take off. Soon after departing they come around and offer tea in wonderful ornate glasses.
Olga told me about her work and come sleep time she gave me the nod to leave the compartment for her to change. I stepped outside into the corridor and nodded to other passengers doing the change to jim-jams swap routine.
When it came to my turn I was please that my Calvin Klein pj's and t-shirt combo did not raise any eyebrows.
And if you think you can sleep on a bumpy night train in Ukraine - forget it. My advice, take a couple of liberal shots of vodka to help you doze off.
This week I'm reporting for UNICEF Television. Before sending me into the Ukrainian hinterland, or indeed anywhere, I had to sit in front of a computer and do an Advanced Security Course. Covering everything from correct radio procedure to using your watch for a compass to assessing risks and threats. All valuable information but having done a 5 day hostile environments course through the marvellous Rory Peck Trust it really did not compare. Two hours later, at least I passed.
Tonight I'm on overnight train down to Odessa to work on a short video feature about children living on the streets and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. I'm looking forward to getting out and working on my own again.
In Nesterivka we dropped in to met Andre Tzimbal and his wife Maroussia. They've been married for 50 years and have a little cottage. Maroussia busied herself with feeding us bread and letting us sample their homemade spirit.
Andre proudly showed us his Soviet era awards. It was a little step back in time to see photographs of him wearing a chest full of medals. A humble man, he often talked about only having a limited education and was genuinely proud of his achievements.
He showed us his Order of Lenin for his agriculture work. It was a whirlwind tour and toasting in their living room but I think all of us would have liked to have spent more time with them to understand how Ukraine has changed.
As pensioners they receive about US $50 a month.
Later on the banks on the Tzum artifical lake we were treated to delicious barbeque shashlyky - our third feast of the day. Andre here got up and said a few words and Bjorn presented him with a bottle of brandy.
It was our reportage day to the Greater Cherkassy region. Our journey began early and ended very late very a lot of eating and toasting in between. Not to mention a sudden tyre blow out after an hour into the trip.
I'd like to elaborate more on this excursion when time permits to sketch out a field trip for journalists.
For now, my thanks to Björn Månsson from Hufvudstadsbladet in Helsinki for the gift of this stuffed Kangaroo and joey manufactured at the Chorna Kamianka toy factory near Viktorivka.
I'm thinking about naming the roo 'Vik' and the joey Björn. Thanks again mate!