Message from the Boarding School and Orphanage
of Shirokolanovka, Ukraine
August 10, 2007
Letter to Bettsy Madison Doll Williams, Missoula, Montana,
from Maria Honcharenko, assistant director of the orphanage, Shirokolanovka,
Ukraine, former German village of Landau, Beresan District
My dearest and kindest Bettsy!
My sincerest greetings from Landau! I hope you had a good summer
this year. Here in Landau, God is putting us on an endurance test.
We have to survive a test like this; it is not an easy task though.
In the month of May everything was burnt in our area. Dry winter,
rainless spring and a summer drought did a lot of harm. Most farmers
did not go harvesting – there was nothing to harvest. The
sun burnt everything. We have huge problems with water. We have
a deep well in the yard, but it has absolutely no water in it now.
My husband’s parents say they have never experienced a drought
like this. The food prices went drastically up. Winter is likely
to be hard, but to be honest, after the 1990’s our people
fear nothing more. We’ll survive. Maybe we’ll get slimmer
but this is good – we’ll be healthier.
A new school year is approaching and we are finishing the preparations
for it. All rooms have been whitewashed, painted and are waiting
for the children to come. Now we are redecorating the school buildings
from outside in order for them to have a somewhat more attractive
look. We have thoroughly repaired two bedrooms in the dormitory
down the valley. All dormitories received shower cubicles. We purchased
several new beds, desks and some classroom furniture. The teachers
finished their vacations and returned to work. I was pleased to
hear they were missing the school. To hear something like that is
of great importance for me – if they gladly go to work that
means they love children. And where is love, there is success.
This summer was splendid for the kids. They spent two months at
the seaside. In June the tax administration purchased tours to Crimea
to a recreation summer camp. We worried about how our children would
be received there and about how our children would behave. But everything
went well and the children did not let their teachers down. Compared
to the other 800 children who were taking rest in the camp our kids
were no worse. Upon return to the school, they presented a certificate
of gratitude, which said ‘to the best children of the camp’.
In the camp the rooms our children were staying in were located
near the camp director’s office. She often came to our teachers
with the question, “What kind of children do you have?”
and she also thinks we have a secret in dealing with them. I’ve
been telling you there is no secret, love to children, exactingness
plus ensuring the kids take part in planning their life and then
are responsible for every step they take before their classmates.
And this disciplines.
In July the children had rest at steppe camp. The conditions there
were relatively satisfactory. But from Aug. 2 they are back at the
seaside again, this time in Ochakiv [Mykolayiv region]. There they
improve their health with the state funds. We are pleased with how
the rest is organized and the children feel well there.
Bettsy, the children were eagerly awaiting your visit in May (they
got used to your regular visits). And they regretted you failed
to come. But all of them love you and hope for another visit. I
hope for this too.
Best wishes from Ukraine,
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