Message from the Boarding School and Orphanage of Shirokolanovka, Ukraine

November 13, 2005

Letter to Bettsy Madison Doll Williams, Missoula, Montana, from Maria Honcharenko, assistant director of the orphanage, Shirokolanovka, Ukraine, former German village of Landau, Beresan Distric

Dear Bettsy!

It has been only a short time since we parted, and it is already November outside my window. We received your wonderful letters where you so nicely describe autumn, my favorite season. I can imagine how beautiful it is at your place in Missoula.

Our autumn did not please us very much here. There was summer warmth until the end of October, no rain at all. Instead the orphanage grounds pleased us with abundant flowers. The children liked to water them every day so they could play splashing each other with water. Then came sudden night frosts and the leaves dropped down green. Rains set in. Cold steppe winds, low heavy clouds and huge flocks of black crows added to the sorrow in our hearts. The only thought that keeps us warm is that this season is short, and we only have to wait until Christmas. And then time will turn to spring, to revival of life, and there will be lots of happy days ahead, especially when our American friends visit us.

Our life is rich in various events, both nice and sad. This year we succeeded somewhat to repair the older boys' dorm. We completely renovated the bedroom, which needed emergency repairs; we built a furnace facility nearby and installed gas heating in the dorm. Now children down there will be warm in winter. We are grateful to you that we will not be worried about how cold winter will be and whether we will have enough fire wood.

We purchased TV sets for all three dormitories; we bought them with the money from our American friends. Now our children watch the news and learn about their country and the world. We also bought materials for sewing, woodworking and metalworking workshops; now the children have materials to work with. One part of the money is still left; we save it in case of an emergency.

In autumn we managed to make a roof for the newly constructed Rosa Reimer food storage building and get the outer walls plastered. Our teachers together with the older boys did all the work. This was a good life experience for them. It would never have been possible without money from our American friends.

We also bought books on teaching and subscribed to education magazines. During a teacher meeting we decided that all these materials be assigned to the teachers' room so that all the teachers could make use of these materials.

Our staff is very thankful to all of our American friends. If not for you, we would not have many things. Our teachers discussed this issue during the last teacher meeting. If you take away from the orphanage all the things that have been purchased with your money and all the gifts you have brought when you visit and sent in the boxes, we would be as ragged as when you first saw us. We are blessed to have such generous people like you.

We are doing well at home. The kitchen garden is cleaned and dug. The cabbages were plentiful, and I made sauerkraut. I make plans for next year's garden, and I have already started to fulfill them - I planted a patch of winter garlic and onions. In addition, I had the courage to buy and plant roses beside my house. Roses are very delicate flowers, and I believe roses are supposed to grow around beautiful houses. I decided that when my roses grow up and are in bloom, I would look at them and remember our beautiful American friends.

Fourteen boxes you sent arrived. This is a very exciting moment when the boxes come. We are grateful for all the gifts we receive from you. Your gifts mean our children will have special holidays. I am grateful to the Lord for blessing us with good friends who care in their hearts for forgotten children.

My sincerest regards and best wishes to everyone. We hope all good things come your way in the New Year, that you are blessed with good health and family.


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