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Our trip to Berdyanks started in the village of Kalinovka. As soon as the little dwellers of the Kalinovka Orphanage saw the familiar faces of their guests they started to show how to turn the steering wheel. They realized right away that the bus meant a piece of freedom, a trip outside their “happy home”, but still an orphanage.
Our first stop was at the Berdyansk History Museum. Our friendly guide was rather concerned at the beginning as she did not know if the children could understand her at all. However, looking at great enthusiasm shining out of Sasha, Serhey and Ruslan one could not help but notice that the guide’s stories captured the boys’ imagination.
The children were absolutely delighted to see the stuffed fishes, birds, and a wild boar that used to live in the Prymorsk territory. Like any other children, our little friends from Kalinovka tried to check by touching through the glass if the birds were alive or not!
The boys also saw different ancient everyday objects such as furniture, traditional embroidered towels, and dishes.
This museum visit would be just perfect if it were not for a total inadaptability of our Ukrainian museums to children and adults with special needs. Consequently, it was rather challenging even for two strong men to carry the heavy wheelchairs of Serhey and Alyosha along the steps between the halls at the first floor.
One could not even dream about visiting the museum halls on the second floor…
We were also advised to visit the Museum of Heroic Exploit devoted to the heroes of the Second World War. When our guide was telling us about the child heroes something funny happened. She asked the children if they knew to whom the little heroes of the World War were writing their letter. The guide expected our little travellers to say “to Mom”. Fortunately, I managed to outrun her thoughts and answered “to Valya” (that’s the name of the children’s teacher who is also their orphanage “mom”).
These little boys from the “Happy Home” are very well aware of the fact that they do not have their real mom even though they call their kind teacher Valya, Mom.
The children were also told about cannons and military tanks they had not heard about before. Then we visited the travel exhibition of the paper models: the children were thrilled to see paper ships, airplanes and the police car.
After we left the museums we took the boys to the beach. Our little travelers were somehow sure we’d let the swim in the sea. Looking at the fishermen the children felt ready to join them. Who knows, maybe some of these children will be able to do it one day….
The boys who were able to walk independently were keen on throwing stones into the sea. When I turned my back for just a second, Yura threw an empty beer bottle he found on the beach into the sea. Despite the fact that these children have some “special” needs, they are still children like any other children all around the world…
Little Lyosha Makarenko asked me to give him a coin. Someone told him about this tradition of throwing a coin into the sea to come back there again…
The little orphans from Kalinovka have been to Berdyansk many times, so even without throwing any coins they will definitely go back there often! On the way home all the boys got hungry, so we decided to stop at “Kozatska khata” cafe (Cossack’s Hut”). We enjoyed some delicious Ukrainian borsch, buckwheat and cutlets.
Almost all the boys were singing us songs and saying “Thank You” on our way back to the orphanage. Only Sergey sadly said, “We have to come back to the orphanage again”. Sergey asked me about my family, namely about if I was married. Sergey is one of brightest and most talkative boys of the Kalinovka orphanage but he could not understand my sense of humour. I told him that my so-called husband “overate pears” and vanished (this Russian saying is humorously used about someone who suddenly leaves you or disappears) and this fourteen-year old boy replied that my husband should not have eaten so many pears…
Then Sergey asked me to say hi to my family for him. He asked me what I wanted to receive as a souvenir from him. I replied “time”.
Sergey turned around towards Valya and asked her “Valya what time is it now?” And after that he looked straight into my eyes and said, “I have given you my greeting and presented you time. What else do you need?!”
And that’s so true: what else do we need? We have everything: legs, arms, mom and dad and time to be happy.
We have time to be happy and make happy other people around us.
You can also support our new project called “The Happy Home-2”. You’re also welcome to visit the children in Kalinovka Orphanage. These little sunny children are always happy to see new people. They will memorize your names from the first time and will call you mom and dad and will present you parts of their hearts that will always magically draw you back to Kalinovka again and again.
We’re grateful to everyone who supports the little orphans from Kalinovka! Many thanks to Nozdrina L. F., the director of the Berdyansk Museum, for a wonderful excursion and to the teachers of the Children’s Home in Kalinovka, Valya and Natasha, our driver Zhenya and volunteer Sasha who helped us to present the children this real and unforgettable trip!