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"The Happy Child" Charity Foundation gives special attention to arranging tours for orphans and children of low-income families. Forty young mountain conquerors came back home from the Bukovel ski resort at the end of March.
The travel team consisted of pupils from the Chernigovskiy and Novonikolaevskiy orphanages, children of low-income and foster families, as well as six volunteers, including me, Sergey Ovcharenko, the author of this article.
We set out on a journey by train to Lviv on March 25th. We had a 24-hour train ride ahead. Although the children were of different ages and had various interests, they all surprisingly got along with each other very well, and with the adults as well. Almost all of them had seen snowy mountain tops only on TV and in magazines. There was also something else that united these children- they were all in expectation of a miracle. And the miracle did not take long to appear.
We spent just an hour in Lviv, then we got on another train to the village of Tatarov and from there headed for the Children’s Camp in the village of Yablonitsa. We reached the long-awaited place of our destination in the depth of the night. During our long trip the children were constantly asking us about when they could finally see the mountains.
The following morning we set off for the Bukovel resort which is 9 km away from the camp. It took us just twenty minutes to get in there. And finally the children could see what they were looking forward to so much – the mountains!!! It was such an exciting sight, that nobody looked down at their feet – everyone was looking up high into the snowy air, imagining their forthcoming climb up to the mountain.
Soon we got our equipment and met with two ski instructors who told us that we had to learn the training route first. They assured us, though, that the kids would ski confidently within three days.
Some children had difficulty skiing in the beginning, but our instructors patiently taught us the skiing basics and asked the children to repeat certain movements over and over again. At the end of the second day everyone was eager to get on the lifts that would take them right up to the top of the mountain from where they could ski down independently. But the instructors felt that the young skiers were not ready yet. And only on the third day were the children allowed to climb up higher.
It’s difficult to describe all the emotions our little skiers experienced at the moment they first began to ski down the slope. After this skiing baptism by fire, our travel team headed for Lviv. As soon as we arrived there in the morning, we settled down at three hostels situated in the center of Lviv. On the first day we had a walking tour around the historical center of the city. Our excursion program involved visiting cathedrals and churches of this ancient city. On the second day we had a sightseeing tour around the beautiful places of Lviv. The visit of the Tall Castle became the final point of our travel. From its bird’s eye view one could even see the Carpathian Mountains!
When the children got on a train back home they started to share their travel impressions with each other! They probably saw and learnt more from this trip than they had in their whole life!
I’m sure that despite fatigue and travel privations, not a single child regretted taking part in this project! Because as soon as we arrived at the railway station they simply started bombarding me with questions about the date of their next trip!
And then I realized – the trip had been a real success!
We are grateful to our American friend Joel. Thanks to him, this amazing travel became a reality!
We are thankful to the Bukovel Ski Resort for its assistance in the travel organizing. The resort provided the children with a free set of skis and free cards for all lifts and assisted children with ski teaching. All in all the services we enjoyed for free would cost us approximately 16, 000 hryvnyas (1,996 US dollars).
We’d also like to thank the staff of the “Children’s Camp “The Children’s Village” in the village of Jablotitsa for their warm welcome!
We’re thankful to the foster parents as well as the parents of many children for their partial financial support!
We’re thankful to the teachers of the Chernygovskiy and Novonikolaevskiy (the Melitopol district) orphanages of the Zaporizhia region and the volunteers-teachers Dima, Sergey and Volodya.
We earnestly hope that our cooperation with the Bukovel ski resort will continue and many children of special benefits from Zaporizhia will be able to enjoy skiing and the beautiful nature.