Report from the Boarding School and Orphanage of Shirokolanovka,
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
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
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,