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Report from the Boarding School and Orphanage of Shirokolanovka, September, 2005

September 30, 2005

Letter from Maria of Shirokolanovka, Ukraine, former German village of Landau, Beresan District, to Bettsy Madison Doll Williams, Missoula, Montana, July 20, 2005


My Dear Bettsy!

Our greetings to you from Ukraine! Almost two months have passed since the last time we saw each other. We think of those pleasant days very often and feel sorry that our meetings are so short. You are not a guest but a member of our family. We all feel it that way. I wonder why we didn’t know about each other’s existence for such a long time. I always thank Lord for His generous gift.

On May 31 we had a double holiday – the Last school bell holiday and the visit of Robert and his tour group. Our children like to welcome guests; it was too bad that they stayed for only a couple of hours. But they left pleasant memories behind. The tour group consisted of thirteen persons, and all of them were very nice and kind people.

June 14 our children went to camp for their vacation. Unfortunately they couldn’t go to the seaside this year. Their camp was located in the steppe, so neither the children nor we were content with the conditions for vacation. But we had no choice. Our teachers were working with our children at the camp. The only thing that pleased us was that we could see the result of our work. Children from nine residential schools (the same as ours) were having rest at this camp. The camp director gave examples of our children to others. Our children gained many awards and diplomas for the victory for different contests and competitions. Teachers from other schools believe we know some secrets in education. The truth is we don’t have any secrets. This is all due to the friendly atmosphere and our desire to make each child feel comfortable at school, as well as high demands along with explanations of what to do to become a good grown-up person. And maybe this is what works.

And yet we are lucky with good people. For example, June 10 there came two men to us. They are welders and were on business in the village. They brought our children gifts, sweets and ice cream. They offered help and worked at school two days for no pay. They renewed the heating system in the girls’ dormitory. While they worked, they told us they grew up in a residential school themselves and knew the problems of such schools too well, and so they decided to do a good thing on their days off. We were sincerely surprised for altruism is such a rare thing.

The children are on holidays, and most of the teachers are on vacation as well. We have already prepared the school to receive children, so far as our money reached because the new government reduced the school funding.

And we don’t count on any improvements. Spring and the beginning of the summer were dry, the crops are poor, and we live in an agricultural region. The food prices have risen dramatically. I don’t know how far the new government will go, because so far we have been constantly feeling fear. How will we live? But I think we will survive because we have a lot of experience in survival.

Our summer this year is very dry and hot. And as always there is a lot to do at home, in the kitchen garden, storing up food for the animals, preserving of vegetables and fruits. At school I am making plans for the next school years.

My best wishes to you,

Maria

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