Letter from Shirokolanovka Orphanage, Ukraine, 25 April, 2002

Former German village of Landau, Beresan District, today near Odessa, Ukraine

Dear Connie!

On behalf of the board of directors of the Special School of Shyrokolanivka [former Landau] I, Maria Honcharenko, an assistant director in charge of educational work, would like to address this message to you.

We received a letter from Elizabeth Williams that in the far away America there are a lot of good natured people, among which you are, Connie, who have the desire and some possibility to help children in need. Each time I hear this news, I become very impressed and moved to tears. It's so nice to know there are many people with kind souls and noble intentions in this world.

Our orphanage is a public educational establishment. Today 149 children, aged from 7 to 18, are taught and educated there. 58 of them are orphans without parental care. Our students belong to a sort of students with special needs, i.e. they need correction of mental development. Our task is to teach and educate them in the way they could get adjusted to the society in future and earn their own living by themselves. So that we prepare them for the working life. The girls learn to sew, the boys are to master the metalwork and joinery.

Due to the difficult economic situation in the country the state funding of the educational facilities is more than unsatisfactory. During the previous ten years we received absolutely no money for clothes, shoes, stationary and training equipment. We received only scanty money for the food, which was so scarce that children never had eaten enough.

Now the funding has been increased a little and we are able to provide better food for the children. Also a little sum is provided to purchase clothes and shoes although this is not enough. So we have the only chance to survive through donations.

Two years ago we met an amazing person, a wonderful woman Bettsy Williams. We believe she was a Lord's messenger. She does so much for us organizing fundraising for the destitute children and giving a great part of her heart to them. We are sincerely grateful to her.

Recently we have received a letter from her with an offer of friendship and cooperation with your school. We collected all the children of the orphanage and read that letter to them. The children received this message with joy. However its message aroused a lot of questions. They wonder how they can communicate because they don't speak English, who would translate the letters for them, where they can get money for the postage. And yet I think those questions could be solved.

There are many talented children among our students. They can draw pictures, embroider, make handicrafts and they like it. They would love to make such gifts for their American friends.

I was thrilled at this offer. I believe it's very important especially for the orphan children. It's a great worth to have a friend who would understand you, who you can share your intimate thoughts, joy and sorrow with, and you would know you're not alone in this world and someone is waiting for a message from you.

Our school (orphanage) has many needs: the buildings are mostly adapted for their functions, besides they are old. There are some buildings from 19th century, thus they need renovation and restoration and this costs too much. All the equipment at our school is 30-40 years old and outworn and we do not have the means to replace it. That's why we gladly receive every kind of help.

With my best regards

Maria Honcharenko

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