The Internat In MykolaivkaAn Overview
Posted Thurs, 30 Dec 2004
My name is Jon Brasher.
I work for the libraries of Auburn University, performing
troubleshooting for staff and student computers, and maintaining two
servers. I also administer course-based webpages for
about 150 faculty members across the campus.
Christmas for OrphansAn Adoptive Granny
Posted Thurs, 9 Dec 2004
We, the “oldies”, have many varied memories of Christmas. When I reminisce about this time of the year, I am transported back to my childhood in a small town in Africa. December was summer time, a time of clear blue skies, hot sun beating down on the dry earth and a time of excitement for children waiting for that special day on the calendar.
Santa, I Need A Home
Posted Wed, 8 Dec 2004
Christmas is still a few weeks away and my daughter's gift orders for Santa keep rolling in: A Nemo clock, a jewelry box, yet another doll's pram, the list goes on...
Of course I have some sympathy for my daughter's wishes as I remember wishing much the same thing at her age. But as I prepare Santa's Christmas shopping list I can't help but think of the Christmas wish of another girl I know of, Ada (pronounced, "Arda").
Ada's wish is simple. It is not based on the latest Barbie to be released, the most fashionable outfit, or the best computer game of the 21st Century. Instead, it is a wish based solely on love. Ada's Christmas wish is for a family and somewhere to call home. For someone to tuck her in at night and say those three magic words, "I love you."
You see, Ada is one of many thousands of orphaned children living in Ukraine. Some of them are social orphans whose parents are too poor to clothe and feed them, some have been rejected by their parents, and others (like Ada) are true orphans whose parents have passed away. Many are available for adoption and most have never received a Christmas gift in their lives.
At this time of year it is all too easy to forget about those living a life less privileged than ours with a quality of life that we would struggle to imagine.
As we try to decide what goodies to put on the table for our Christmas meal, many of these kids are receiving only 50% of the minimum required daily nutrients. Christmas day is no different and, for most orphans, passes without as much as a celebratory meal. The children go to bed cold and hungry.
Toys are so few that Christmas day is simply another day of boredom for many orphans. And while our children moan that they didn't get quite what they wanted and we complain that the turkey was overcooked, the weather was miserable, and the Christmas tree looked less than perfect; a child waits on the other side of the world and quietly hopes for nothing more than a family to love her.
To help Ada, and others like her, please contact US registered charity, Life2Orphans. This organization is made up of a number of individuals and corporations from throughout the world who join together to provide not only Christmas gifts but also much needed daily essentials to children in a number of orphanages in Ukraine.
Now is a great time of year to give a little extra and bring a smile to the face of a child who has very little to smile about. Visit www.life2orphans.org for more information and have a very Merry Christmas.
Two Cribs Apart - Transforming Lives with Food and Play
Posted Fri, 6 Aug 2004
Life has an interesting way of coming full circle. Sasha was Orphan #15/Group 9, one of 160 babies at the Antoshka Orphanage.
We adopted her in March 2002 at age 26 months. She was malnourished and weighed 17 pounds, was bald with a distended belly, bow-legged and had rickets. The orphanage budget of $1 a day per baby for food, heating, salaries, medicines, maintenance, cleaning, diapers, and so on, is hopelessly inadequate. This only allowed for milk for babies up to 4 months. After that it was a vegan regime of potato, gruel, soup, bread, tea and sugar water.
The result was a toddler, wearing clothes sized for a 9 month old with several development contradictions. Sasha's fine motor skills were surprisingly well developed as result of necessity (the children had to feed themselves), however, she could barely walk and would stumble and fall after every other step. Her speech consisted of only a handful of Russian words and she had absolutely no concept of how to play with even the most basic of toy. Her cognitive skills languished behind children half her age and we were at the orphanage for three days before we saw Sasha or any of the other orphans smile and this was triggered by food. Sensory deprivation meant that sound, light, color or the smallest change in routine would trigger an overload.
The memories of the orphanage haunted me daily once we returned home, and so together with several other families, Life2Orphans was born. We returned in 2003 and 2004 on humanitarian trips. The transformation was amazing. The kids were smiling, playing, collaborating, better nourished and not standing rocking or banging their heads. Some of the disabled orphans were integrated into regular groups and the staff seemed to have more hope.
We took a photo of the room where Sasha slept. This week we discovered that the little boy two cribs down who we captured on camera is Jonathan (adopted by a Life2Orphans family). Somehow this made it all worth it - to meet a family (albeit online) whose child had directly benefited from the donations. And the babies that are there now are benefiting from Jonathon's family's involvement. And so the cycle continues.
Comment from Lisa (Jonathan's mom): When my husband and I first visited Antoshka, we were impressed with how clean it was, the kindness of the staff and the bright and new toys we saw (later we found out that was the month after L2O came in with all those toys). His medical records showed growth at every three months when he was weighed and measured. He learned to walk at 16 months and weighed a wonderful 19.5 pounds at 18 months. I am so grateful for all the food and donations that were sent from which our little boy was given the opportunity to grow. I know that his being given formula not only helped with his physical growth but also his brain development! But there is still more work to be done! When all the adoptive parents met with their new children, at the orphanage, the first thing they did was bring out the food. All the children were like little birds. Their mouths were open wide after one bite, eager for the next because they were hungry. Jonathan was eating anything we would give him and searching in our backpack for more. There are so many more children left behind. I have to keep going and help other children. It is the least I can do.
How you can help.....
Sasha's Crib #15, Group 9 and Jonathan (on the right)
Group 9 - The effect of donations start to kick in - each child has a toy to play with
Group 9 - 2003 - The children are playing - together!
Providing a Glimmer of Hope - Help an Orphan
Posted Fri, 2 Jul 2004
An email report from Galya, our Life2Orphans on the ground volunteer in Sevastopol.
Just came back from the Sevastopol shelter. Thank you for the perfect timing with Leonya's birthday present!! He was thrilled! With the money I bought enough drinks, cakes, candies and cookies for 20 kids to share.
They LOVED the party!! Natasha and Leonya were very excited with their presents. Esme, you made their day, thank you so much!! All the clothes fit perfectly except for the red pants which Natasha is going to give to her friend who is now in hospital, and a pair of running shoes, which Leonya gave to his buddy Maria (you can see them in one of the pics) they were a little too small.
Natasha is very concerned about her front tooth missing, so she quit smiling each time she saw me trying to take her picture :) Leonya didn't seem to care much, thought. First thing Natasha told me when I went in, was her concern about the teacher who was supposed to teach her read and write, because she hadn't showed up yet! She's worried because soon she'll be transferred to an orphanage and thus will join the kids in the summer camp. I explained her that soon she'll start her classes, but it was great to see that she very excited about it.
Also she was obviously very upset, almost crying, first she wouldn't tell me why, but then she said that her birthday is in February. And?
And by then she'll be gone to an orphanage!! I reassured her that her that Esme isn't going to forget her just because she'll move.
How you can help.....
Sponsor an orphan by sending at least two parcels a year. You will receive a picture and feedback about your child.
Contact Michelle at email@example.com
The kids in the shelter enjoying the party
Natasha and Leonya wrapped in their new hand-made blanket
Posted Fri, 26 Jun 2004
There are 217 children aged 8 to 16 years in Internat Mykolaivka. The
Internat is officially for orphans with learning difficulties - but is in fact,
often simply a dumping ground for orphans - sent there because there are no beds
available elsewhere. For example, a boy with cleft palate who should have been
in an Internat for children with speech difficulties had been placed here. Many
are mentally 100% when they arrive.
The Internat is located in a small village outside Slavyansk - which is 14 hours by train plus one hour by car east of Kyiv. Because of its rural location and 'labeled' children there are no adoptions to speak of. This means that they have no outside assistance as they are remote and isolated. The buildings are grey and in need of maintenance and the grounds are barren.
The kids are cheerful despite their circumstance and when we took gifts for a group of 10 kids (who were graduates of the Roschitsa kindergarten age orphanage we support) they stood and sang for us - everyone was crying. Manjour (a dark-skinned, 11 year old boy) sang a beautiful song about having a family - we (including the staff) were all in tears. He has been available for adoption for his whole life but several adoptive families declined to even see him because of his skin tone. Kiriel, who is 11, and has been in an orphanage from when he was born prematurely, is an engaging, charming, articulate child. And so on.....
They seemed so intent on doing something in exchange for the gifts and candy we brought them.
The children have tatty clothing and many had shoes that were too small - one boy had slit his sneakers open at the front so that his toes would fit and another had sandals and socks on - the sandals were at least 3 sizes too small. One of the children was SO delighted to get a simple ballpoint pen from us and another cried when her plastic bag tore (an ultra-thin supermarket plastic bag).
Three sisters could not tell us their ages or their own birthdays (not even the month). They are 10, 13 and 14 (we had to look this up). I guess after years of neglect and no one ever telling them they simply didn't know. It is also difficult to assess their ages because of their inadequate nutrition -all the children are much smaller than their real age. Anton, 10 years old, adopted in Russia at age 8, traveled with us to Ukraine with his mom to work in the orphanages for a month. He towered over the 11 year olds. The average shoe size is 3 to 4 years behind.
As we left word got out that we were there and we were mobbed - in the gentlest of ways.
The orphanage director, when asked what help they needed, asked for clothes and school supplies for the children. They also need laundry equipment but he was firm that the needs of the children should come first.
These kids have no one to lobby for them. The staff members are warm and kind but trapped in a hopeless situation - no one speaks English and they have no contacts with aid organizations (which are often affiliated with adoptions).
I do believe that it takes very special people to provide aid to kids that are older and no longer "cute and cuddly" - but I do believe that they deserve to sleep the sleep of the just.
If you would like to help these kids please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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