Letter from Maria at the Shirokolanovka Orphanage, 28 February 2001
(former German village of Landau, Beresan District)
|Children at the Shirokolanovaka Orphanage
(Landau, Beresan District) with their new winter jackets purchased
from private donations to
the Germans from Russia Cultural Preservation Foundation
I've received the translation of your letter from 28.02.2001 and
your card from Arizona. I'm sincerely grateful for everything. All
the orphanage saw the card, and we were pleasantly impressed that
the card was partly written in Russian, so that our children could
We have received a large sum of money, and unfortunately, we haven't
made use of it yet, although we're trying to do everything possible
to make good purchases. It's unpleasant for me to write about it,
but our newly baked businessmen are still very stingy. We want to
buy winter jackets with this money for the children who still don't
have them, as well as summer clothes and shoes for the children
who will stay with us in summer. It's always painful to us when
we bring the children to a summer camp for a rest and our children
look very poorly dressed.
We are looking for clothes. We feel like buying more and for this
the clothes should be cheaper. But the businessmen are very unwilling
to give us a discount. Last time when we were buying jackets there
appeared a good man who gave us a very significant discount, and
we could buy good and cheap things. Now we have to ask our friends
from tax administration to find us yielding businessmen. I believe
we could make purchases within a week or two, but for now the money
is in the bank.
You want me to make an order for the presents for the children.
I believe it's not modest, and I feel a bit awkward, but still I'd
like to do it, because I'm doing it for the destitute children.
We have heaps of problems, we lack many things. Last year for instance,
we bought towels for the children with your money. But there's only
one per child. The towels need to be washed from time to time, and
as we have no laundry dryers, there isn't enough time for the towels
to become dry, and so we are forced to give wet towels to the children.
It would be good if they had another one for a change.
Last year you brought warm hats. But not every child has one. We
keep them not for wearing every day but let the children put them
on only when they travel somewhere or go visit somebody. To wear
every day, the children have very old hats that have faded with
the time and lost their attractive look.
Another difficulty with children's underwear has arisen. Now the
elder girls are cutting out and sewing underpants for boys and girls.
I'm aware of my "large-scaled" wishes and that I'm imposing
a lot of our problems on you. But if the tour members could bring
something of the above-mentioned things, the children would be very
Now I tell you how we divided the quilts. At a general children's
meeting they decided to give the quilts to the orphan girls. They
are many and the quilts are only 4. We held a draw in order to make
sure no one felt injured. But still children stay children and there
were tears, because everybody wanted to have a quilt but not everyone
got one. We were trying to comfort them and explained that we'll
be given more some time.
I've written a lot about sad things, and I'm afraid you'll get
the impression we became pessimists. That's not true. Those problems
are the concern of us adults. We're trying to do our best for the
children to lead a joyful life.
The very first our joy is we have lived through the winter, and
that's we've survived. How can one be sad in spring? Many troubles
are just falling off. And we have a lot of work to do that brings
joy. Now the children are working outside with great pleasure: they're
digging, cleaning up the orphanage territory, planting and sowing
flowers. We had a very warm winter and an early spring this year.
The grass becomes green, and the weather is just wonderful. The
boys are playing soccer with pleasure. Thanks to you they have balls
Our children like it very much to be actors. We celebrate the month
of March as the month of books and theater. Every class prepares
their show, the younger children stage different fairy tales, the
elder show the dramatization of literary works. The children will
be glad to present their entertainment program when Michael Miller
The children are also preparing presents for their benefactors:
they can make pictures from straw and are now preparing different
compositions. They can also make cards. In general they are able
to do a lot of things with their own hands and like it very much
to work. A farmer from the village brought planks and the elder
boys make of them benches for the dining hall. It's good when they
have the material to make something. It's a pleasant thing to look
at something made with one's own hands.
The tour's visit last year was a good blessing for us. After your
visit, we've got kind friends ready to help us to survive. The poor
nourishment and misery undermined the health of our children. This
year, when we could organize medical examinations, we received very
unconsoling results. 57 children had positive Mantu reaction, which
is they were in a pre-TB condition. We were lucky to find generous
people and to cure these children. Now this is OK. We constantly
medically check the children. We received aid to buy necessary materials
for the dentists care. The children were examined by an oculist,
and we're now searching for money to buy spectacles for the children.
So, the living conditions of our children are improving. The main
thing is of course the improvement of their nutrition, which means
their health. It's very important for us.
Bettsy, I was amazed by your suggestion to write a story or a book.
To be honest, I've never thought of it. It seems to me that this
is the job of only famous and talented people. I've never found
what I do is something significant. I was just trying to live according
to the principle "Love and conscience rule the world"
and taught my own children and my pupils to live like this. That's
You are the first person who made me consider that every man is
a part of history, and everyone is contributing his part to its
development. And the things which are now regarded as trivial or
insignificant might be interesting for somebody to read about in
several decades. But I'm not sure if I can manage to do this, if
I will have enough ability for this. I will just try to write more
often and detailed about our life.
With my very best regards and affection,
P.S.: Before I have sent this letter. Today we received two phone
calls from two firms making clothes. Tetyana is going tomorrow to
solve this matter.