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The Shirokolanovka Boarding School

Shirokolanovka, Ukraine (former German village of Landau, Beresan District)
December, 2000

Electronic mail message of 10 December 2000 from Bettsy Madison Williams,
Missoula, Montana.

Bettsy was a member of the Journey to the Homeland tour group of June, 1996 and May, 2000. With her mother, Agatha Doll Williams, Bettsy toured the former German village of Landau, Beresan District, where visited the orphanage.

German


Dear Bettsy!

We have received your answer to our letter. The other day we have received a parcel with the pictures of the children and your letter. We are grateful sincerely for everything.

We are very pleased that you have not forgotten us and frankly sympathize with us. We greatly appreciate it.

The pictures of the children are splendid. We have handed them to the children. The pictures and the names match each other. Everything is correct.

Our children returned from the sea-shore. They had a good rest and improved their health. They came back physically vigorous and sunburnt. The weather stood fine. The summer was very hot. So it was a good time for bathing and laying in the sun.

Unfortunately it did no good for the local agriculture. There was not a rain drop in sight all summer long. That's why the drought has destroyed the harvest in the fields. This means another winter for us to suffer from the hardships. But we're used to it.

Here are some information about the history of genesis and the life of our orphanage.

Our orphanage was created in 1944 during the World War II (the Great Patriotic War as it is often referred to in the former Soviet republics). There had been a lot of orphans, so there should be someone to care about them.

Decades have passed away since the end of the War, but the problem of waif and strays still remained and it has even sharpened. Hard economic situation in the country and unemployment are of the main causes.

According to the official rates there are registered over 100.000 abandoned children. But in reality this number is even higher. We have many kids who have run away from their families because of there parents being alcohol or drug addicts. In such families there is no one to care about them: no food, no clothes, no shoes, no means to heat the house in winter. Many children get beaten and forced to steal. The children does not withstand this and run away in search for the means to survive.

The state divest such parents of their parental rights and the children go to orphanages (or foundling-hospitals or boarding-schools (in the meaning of a school for children which provides both teaching and bed and board)).

Our orphanage was set up for the children with learning and physical disabilities, who have problems with their mental and physical development. If a child wasn't looked after, if he/she often had nothing to eat, so you can forget about the normal development of this child.

We are trying to conduct rehabilitation and correction work with these children for them to find their right place in their life.

Bettsy, you have seen both our older and younger children and they seem to us not bad at all. Maybe we're deceiving ourselves, because we treat them as if they were our own.

Our state helps us: it provides money for the food and the staff's salaries. But this sums are very small ones. So there is 25 cent a day which we can spend for a child to eat. We can buy neither meat nor milk for this money. The children are supplied with only a little fruit and vegetables.

An average teacher's salary is 30 USD. But we don't see this money for months. That's why we can provide only a little help with our own money. Beside the food we must provide clothes and shoes to wear, bed-clothes to sleep, the children must wash themselves and their clothes, so there's a need for soap and washing powder. The children learn in the orphanage, and this means that books and stationery are needed.

The teachers of our school are constantly seeking for the people who could help our children. We believe you have been sent to us by the Lord.We'd like to account for the money you've donated. We have bought lime and paint to whitewash and paint the classrooms. The repair work has been done by the teachers and the children themselves. Also we have bought bed-clothes, towels, copy-books and pens for the children.

On the 1 st of September a new school year began. On this day we had festivities during which you were mentioned and we had thanked you for your help and also we had thanked the Lord for giving us such friends.

Best regards,

Tetyana Fix,

Maria Honcharenko

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Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
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