The Orphanage in the former German village of Landau
of the Beresan District
By Elizabeth (Bettsy) Madison Williams, Missoula, Montana. Bettsy visited the Landau Orphanage in June, 2000, as a member of the Journey to the Homeland Tour group sponsored by the North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo.
The orphanage in Landau has 153 children, 88 girls and 65 boy. Forty-eight of these children are parentless and the other 105 children have parents whose parental rights have been terminated by the state due to neglect, alcoholism, or inability to parent. The government supplies food and the teachers' wages. The other needs of the orphanage must be meet by charity of which there is little available in this poor region. There are 30 women and five men who work and teach at the orphanage. Most grow gardens and bring extra food to the orphans. The directors and teachers we met are very attached to their children and claim to have "the most beautiful orphans in the world." After meeting some of these lovely children, we agree.
The children in this orphanage are between the ages of 7-16. Younger children are at a "baby house" in Nikolaiv, the nearest large city. At the age of 16 or 17, the children go to a vocational school and live in dormitories. Most study building, sewing, cooking, and other labor. The children in the Landau orphanage are considered to be "slow in developing" due to hearing, vision, growth, or other health impairments and many are under educated due to lack of attending school while they resided with their families. There is minimal health care available for the children. Ukraine allows no foreign adoptions. The directors knew only of one adoption from the Landau orphanage.
Journey to the Homeland 2000 was able to give three suitcases of gifts (clothes, toiletries, school supplies, toys, and some basic medicines), one box of quilts, and $420. The money was used immediately to rent a bus and buy gas to send the children to their summer camp on the Black Sea. The government provides the camp but not the transportation.
The orphanage has a governance board of three people who prioritize needs and decide how charity will be used. We are in the process of gathering more information about the orphanage and how we might be of assistance to the children. At this time, we know of no way to assure delivery of aid to the orphanage except by tour members.