Report from the Boarding School of Shirokolanovka

14 September 2004

Boarding School of Shirokolanovka
District of Veselinovo
Region of Nikolayev

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

Dear American Friends,

Now, another new school year has begun. Both teachers and students feel these days in a special way. We are facing a new school year with its victories and losses, the happiness of communication, of the smiles and jokes and of bitter injustice, the joy of discovery and intense dealing with challenges. School is a special phenomenon; one cannot plan everything in advance, cannot check and estimate anything with usual measures, everything is individual here.

Always I pray before the beginning of a new school year for our students to be sincere, our fellow teachers to be well-wishing, for health and cosiness to be in our school home, for intelligence and kindness to be always the winners. I do love school, love children, and I think I'm blessed with a happy fate.

In the summer time we managed to finish some works about the school premises although not everything we planned. For two months the government promised us some funds to repair one of the dorms, but they did not give us any money. We do have presidential elections ahead, so there's a bigger need for money!

The summer happened to be very rainy, so there occurred some unpredictable problems with our dining hall, and we had to invest many efforts and much money to repair it. The dining hall has now a more pleasant look.

We have started to reconstruct the food storage building, the building we will dedicate to Rosa Reimer. She worked for 42 years in the old food storage building, which is falling in ruins and no longer safe to enter. We are building with our own labor. After classes the teachers and the students work on the reconstruction. The work is moving forward not as fast as we'd like, because we are not specialists and have insufficient funds at our disposal. But I believe participation in this work is a good “school of life” for the children.

The children had a good rest in the summer (I mean those who went to the summer camp). But many of our children came back to school looking thin and generally worse than before vacation. You should keep in mind that some of the children come from destitute families or extended families. I always have pity for those children watching them when they take their meals in the dining room - how swiftly they empty their plates, how carefully they clean them with a piece of bread till the very last little drop is gone.

Now we are getting ready for the winter. We are putting vegetables in storage. The older children and those from the middle grades go to work in the field after their classes helping harvest potatoes, onions, and cabbages. Thanks to the Lord, we have good crops this year, and there is something to gather in the fields.

We always remember our visitors. Those were very pleasant days filled with joy. During Michael’s visit with the tour group, I accommodated Linda and Ben Brunner. Linda is a wonderful woman. I liked her so much. This tour group left behind very good impressions with the school staff, and it was very nice to meet and talk to them.

We always think of our American friends and thank you for your care about our children. We live much better now than when we first met. Our children eat much better, their health is improved, and they are better dressed and have good shoes. You have helped our children to experience some of the joys of childhood. We pray God blesses each of you for your generosity.

With my best regards and gratitude,

Maria Honcharenko

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller