In November, 1996, Encounters International opened its office in Kiev, Ukraine. Recently, with the economic deterioration, a lot of western dating and marriage services turned their focus to Ukraine. So when I met with the girls who came to the organizational meeting, they seemed to be familiar with the "mail-order bride" concept and were not very enthusiastic about it to say the least.
Those who had previously participated in so-called "socials" with American bride-seekers tried to make sure that we are not going to be engaged in this type of humiliating activities. Others who had previous experience corresponding with American men tried to convince me that very few of them are serious when it comes to marriage. I spent hours with the girls explaining the difference in our approach, but the photos of more than 70 happy couples, some of whom have babies, proved to be most effective in swaying their opinion.
While I stayed in Kiev, a surprise event helped me a lot. One of the central newspapers published an article about Encounters International. It came as a surprise because nobody interviewed me in Kiev and I was unable to determine where the story came from. After some reminiscing, I remembered that some time before, Radio Free Europe and Liberty had interviewed me and broadcast it in the former Soviet Union in Russian. Then, a local Ukrainian reporter used that interview as a basis for the report. Had the reporter known that I happened to be in Kiev at the exact same time as when his story was published, he could have gotten the details first hand.
The article, entitled "Brides for Export" was encouraging in spite of the somewhat derogatory connotation associated with this title in Ukraine. Following is the translation of part of the article:
"Natasha Spivack is doing her business professionally. She is absolutely sure that her firm can successfully fulfill any order from either the men or women who are her clients. I was listening to Natasha's story on radio from Washington, and recalled an old friend of mine, a convinced bachelor, who never burdened himself with a family. His friends used to visit him in his small one-bedroom apartment and he would be happy to see us. The place seemed to be in order but still there was a sense of the lack of that female touch. 'Arnold,' we used to say, 'you should get married.'
"'Come on guys, you want me to take a strange woman, give her money every day to spend at the farmer's market!? No way!' Had he come across Natasha, our Arnold would have never gotten away..."
The article produced a non-stop wave of phone calls. Out of many women who applied, 60 were screened, interviewed, and accepted. You can see some of them in different age groups on the WEB page. A week later, Encounters International received 123 letters to approximately 40 active male clients in our service. Needless to say, I am more than excited about the enthusiasm of Ukrainian women and encourage all of our clients to contact them.