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In the beginning of autumn of 2013, sudden cold weather and prolonged rain made one quickly say farewell to summer and start preparing for the winter. But for the children who spent four days on the South Coast of Crimea, summer returned for a time, giving them happy, joyful moments as a gift.
So, thanks to the support of our benefactors, on the 11th of October 2013, 11 orphaned children from the Donetsk Group Home #1 and 14 children from large, low-income families of the Zaporozhye region, and 5 adult headed to the Crimea.
On the first day, we visited Sevastopol - stopped at Khersones, walked through the center of the city, caught a motor boat over to the North Side and visited the Mikhailovsk Battery there. We also visited an unusual destination - the children visited the Sevastopol Orphanage, which is located near ArtBay.
By the evening, we got over to Foros, where we were going to spend the next 3 days. This village, located in the southernmost point of Ukraine, is known for containing the dacha of M. Gorbachev, the former president of the USSR, and the dacha of the President of Ukraine. To host our children entirely free of charge was the offer of hospitable owners of a cottage right on the seashore - Kvashuk Vasiliy Nikolaevich and Lyubov Nikolaevna.
To be honest, not only the children, but many of the adults in the group had never stayed in such comfortable quarters. The cottages, which are built on terraces, come down to the beach itself. When one is on the first-floor balcony, one can feel the spray from the waves during stormy weather. From the window of every room, there's a wonderful view of the sea, the bay and the mountains which overhang Foros. The neighbouring cottages belong to the administration of the president of Russia, and the ones a little further away is the Crimean residence of the president of Ukraine. There are a few helipads scattered throughout the beaches, and the fences in some spots are five meters high. But the children are quite uninterested in those details, because the presidents' dachas are not offering to host the children, unlike regular people, like the Kvashuk family, who had done so.
The next morning, the majority of children and adults decided to take a swim in the sea. The water was cool, about 16 degrees Celsius, but looked amazingly clear and delightful. We swam, jumped into the water from the huge stones that were sticking out of the water, filmed videos underwater. The feeling of summer returned, as if we wound the time back a couple months. We could not believe that it was already the middle of October, according to the calendar!
After breakfast, we went on a short hike. First, we went up towards the Voznesenskaya Church, which is built on the Red Rock cliff right above Foros. Then we headed towards the Devil's Ladder, along the Kastropol Wall. The weather granted us an amazingly beautiful sight - the weather above the mountain tops was clear, and above us, white fluffy clouds sailed along! This was the first time children had seen such beauty, and they kept on snapping photographs, loudly expressing their joy. We walked up to the Devil's Ladder - a passageway in the mountains, which allows one to descend from the Kastropol Ladder. The children were amused by the ladder's name, and they kept formulating hypotheses as to why it was named so. They agreed upon the idea that the most likely reason was that the people who tried to find this passageway in bad weather or at night, frequently swore, "where the devil is this ladder?"
We successfully passed through this Devil's Ladder - quite a picturesque place! It was after we returned home, that I read on the web that many famous people, such as A. Pushkin, V. Zhukovsky, A. Griboedov, I. Bunin, V. Brusov, and many others also walked through that ladder.
When we got back to Foros, it was already dark - we were hungry, happy, and full of stories to tell. In the evening, we had an amateur concert given in honor of the birthday of the author of this article. Our musician Alina had prepared a performance, along with the children, and some children had drawn funny pictures for their gifts. Our hosts had once again surprised us with their hospitality - they bought cakes for our entire group of 30 people! I will definitely remember this birthday for a long time!
Next day, we went hiking again. This time, we walked from the Foros church through the Boat Gate passage, along the mountain range towards the Cape of Sarych. We visited an amazing place, the temple of the Sun near the mountain Ilyas-Kaya. The temple consists of several rocks up to 15 meters in height, which resemble huge fingers, or crenellations, sticking up from the forest. Many people come there to absorb positive energy and to meditate. We had a snack there, and then Alina started playing a tune with her block flute. But, as it turned out, we were not the only ones who were listening, so were the people on the nearby rocks. After she played one of her compositions, we heard applause from all the surrounding rocks. Alina kept on playing. It turned out to be an impromptu concert under the sky. As Alina herself said, performing in such a theater, built by nature itself, is a great pleasure!
We hadn't the time to ascend the Ilyas-Kaya mountain, and, therefore, we decided to descend to the Cape of Sarych. Many of us were looking forward to standing in the southernmost point of Ukraine, but, unfortunately, in our country, even the best places which should belong to all citizens, are often occupied by presidents' dachas, millionaires' cottages, or military installations. The place on the Cape of Sarych, where, just a couple years ago, one could walk onto the seashore, now sports a fence, five meters high! The lighthouse's territory is guarded by the military, because it is supposedly a military object - and at the same time, we were observing automobiles full of children of those same military men, who were coming up to spend the day on the lighthouse's territory.
Both the adults and the children in our group were indignant - why is something that belongs to all people, the shore side of such unique Ukrainian places as the Cape of Sarych, sold or reserved? Why, despite a legal prohibition of limiting access to water resources, the children of oligarchs or the military can enjoy the beauty of Sarych, and the rest of the children come up against a five-meter fence? Hasn't God created such beautiful places for all people, not only for select groups?
On our last day, we went to Yalta. We walked along the shore, took photographs with the monkeys and with the yachts and the cruise ship in the background. In short, we checked in in the central city of Crimea's southern shore. In the evening, we caught the trolley bus to Simferopol, and from there, the train took us to Zaporozhye.
The trip was a great success - the children acquired new friends, a lot of positive experiences, and for some of them, it was the first time ever they'd seen mountains, the train, and the Black Sea.
I would like to thank the people who performed this miracle in these children's lives:
Aleksei and other participants in the "Klubok" project, who have donated money;
Volunteers Nikolaik, Vyacheslav, Maria, Julia, and the music director Alina;
Natalya, the teacher at the Donetsk Orphanage;
The owners of the cottage at Foros - Vasily Nikolaevich and Lyubov Nikolaevna. We are certain that the kindness they have shown to us will bring their family good things in return.
Incidentally, if you would like to stay during your vacation at those hospitable owners' place in Foros, in the comfortable cottages right at the sea shore, for a moderate price, please call: +3 8 050 702 74 42 (Vasily Nikolaevich).
Each cottage has a kitchen, bathroom and shower, air conditioner, refrigerator, TV with satellite channels, and a balcony facing the sea. And the offseason prices are quite moderate!
If you want to support the future trips by "Klubok" and give the children from group homes and the children from large, low-income rural families the opportunity to go camping or to go on a trip like this, you can contribute however much you can: