Letter from Maria Honcharenko, Shirokolanovka Orphanage, October, 2001

Letter sent to Bettsy Madison Williams, Missoula, Montana, from Shirokolanovka, Ukriane, former German village of Landau, Beresan District)

"We bought some stationary for the children and also some cloth for the dorms of which we want to make curtains for the windows and covers for the beds. We feel like making the conditions of the life of the children more comfortable. We understand it well that the years spent by the children at our orphanage should be joyful and happy.

In summer, the children rested at the camps. The conditions there were good. This year, summer was very hot and good for bathing and rest. The children came back to school suntanned and healthy. Our teachers worked with the children at the camps, and we visited them, too. But children will be children. Every time we came to the camps, they told us they want to go home, that is to the orphanage, which they missed very much. They were worrying that the school might have grown up with weeds, and there's nobody to bring the school grounds in order. They were ready to exchange their vacations for the work at the orphanage. My heart ached when they cried waving good-bye to our car and begged us to take them home. I thought, maybe the things are not so bad at the orphanage. Maybe they are in peace of mind with us.

This summer was very busy for us. We had the money Michael gave us from the American friends, and our friends from the tax administration helped us with building materials. That's why the orphanage staff could do the major repairs and renovate the school. So it was that this was another year I had almost no vacation.

I inform you with joy that the life of the children becomes better. We have peace of mind because of the children's food. The kids eat meat, fish and dairy products. In September we held a medical examination, and the doctors noted the good state of health of the children.

September was loaded with work. On September the 1st, we have the beginning of the school year and the traditional holiday, Day of Knowledge. This time the holiday happened to be a true celebration for the children. We prepared for the celebration. We also received guests, our friends from the tax administration and from the Party of the Regions. They came with present; they brought new school uniforms (I wrote before that we received cloth from the American army but we had no money to have the uniforms sewn), many sweets, copybooks and pens. The children were photographed on video, and our program was shown on the local TV. Our kids prepared a festive program that was for the first time not only for themselves but also for the guests. A group of children of the same age came from Veselynove (our district center) and brought their concert program. In the evening came our former pupil, Igor Kravchenko, an orphan who left the vocational school and now works as a construction worker in a neighboring village. He sings very well, and he has performed even in Kiev. He made us happy for a while with his songs.

It's so good to have our own vehicle - a bus. It makes our life much easier. We also put in order the school grounds: we repaired the paths and built a new supporting wall near one of the dorms. We store up firewood for the winter.

Every year before the new school year begins we say good-bye to our graduates. These are always hard moments, moments of parting. And we eternally worry about how adult life will meet them, whether they meet good people who would support them and say a kind word. This year we had five orphans whom we brought to a vocational school in Mykolayiv. The boys will be taught the profession of joiner and the girls that of seamstress. Every weekend they come to the orphanage and we, when in town, visit them. For the time being they are all right. They are highly thought of at the new school.

Rosa Reimer feels much better. The other day, exactly September 29 she came to the orphanage on her own, true with a cane in her hand. And we, of course, were thrilled. She misses us very much and for the time being we can't get accustomed without her because she came daily to the orphanage for 40 years. It meant everything to her. And despite the fact that we go and see her at her place, nevertheless it's hard for her to get adjusted to being all alone inside the four walls. I often think how frightening it is being weak and lonely.

Rosa is very restless by nature, and all her life she worked actively. Although the doctors don't allow her now, she started to work in her vegetable garden. She has 15 hens and 10 ducks in her household, so she has something to look after. Due to your monetary support, she has means to buy medicine. She asked me once again to extend you her words of gratitude. When she recalls you she always cries, she was so moved by such an unusual generosity.

I always thank the Lord for being always blessed with good colleagues. It's so good when you work with people who understand and support you. I hardly could do anything for these poor children, if not for all of them.

I'm grateful to the Lord for letting me meet you. However the situation in the world is tense after the tragedy of September 11. Lord, please don't let it be war.

I'm finishing my letter. I wish you all the blessings of the world.

With love,


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