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On the Small Miracle Taking Place (Almost) Unnoticed in the Children’s Home at Kalinovka

April 29, 2009, 8:00 4970 Author: Anya Gerashchenko, Kharkov (ann.g.ko@gmail.com), translated by David Sudermann (dsudermann@charter.net) www.deti.zp.ua It isn’t necessary to travel around the world to find miracles. The creative activity of these children at Kalinovka, who until recently were considered untrainable — that is truly a miracle!

One hardly needs to travel the world over in search of miracles. It is enough to plop oneself down in a marshrutka (taxi van) and travel to Kalinovka. There you can ask where the group of older “crawlers” lives. (For a year now these kids haven’t been crawling, since there are now wheelchairs; nonetheless, the collective nickname remains.) And drop in on the older ones during the second half of the day. You will see the boys, in a tight circle around a table, threading beads onto a fine wire with great concentration.

“Today we decided to make a lilac,” explains Lilia, leader of the circle.“ First, I showed the guys how, and already they know how to create a leaf or petal. They themselves count out the needed quantity of beads.” My glance came to rest on Alyosha, a fellow suffering from a form of cerebral palsy so serious that each purposeful movement gives him difficulty. I recall how he made a circle in the air with his hand in order to slow down the wheelchair on the path last summer. And now he aims a small piece of wire and adroitly snags a bead, laying it in a saucer next to him. So much for one little bead—he then demonstrates with pride an entire sprig, which he made all by himself! Lilia intercepts my glance, “I could never even have imagined that Alyoshka could learn to do this. Until now no would believe it. And it gives him such satisfaction!

Sasha, another resident of the internat, tugs at my sleeve: “Ann, will you make a lilac with us?” I feel embarrassed: “Sash, I can’t do it.” The boy’s eyes get big and round. It can’t be that someone is not able to weave a flowery sprig. “Lilia, Anya isn’t able to weave the beads.” Lilia smiles, “It doesn’t matter, we’ll teach Anya. I sit down at the table, but no matter how hard I try, it doesn’t work! The boys show me already ten times and are genuinely puzzled that I forgot again, that not three, but four beads must be in that row.

Apparently, the work today is pretty intense; and I am the cause of that. In fact, behind my back on another table stand already completed works of art. Naturally, I pretend not to notice them! “Look,” I did that one; and that one — me; and that one — Seryozha.”

I have never witnessed a miracle so delightful as these small flowers and sprigs that the children display with such pride. Still, this created beauty exists because of and thanks to dozens of people who live in different countries and who have never seen each other. In my mind I thank those who make regular monthly donations in order to support the work of Lilia and three other teacher-caregivers here. I know that several sponsors continue a monthly contribution in spite of the fact that the amount of the donation is significant for them. I conjure up in my mind the entire process by the Kiev group of collecting funds for the purchase of a quantity of beads and of forwarding them to Zaporozhye. I see the play - and workroom, which did not exist there a year ago — with toys and a great number of beautiful handmade articles made by the children. Handmade pieces that up to now they had no place to produce — and now there are a great number!

“How I would like to have small shelves,” remarks Lilia. “We would arrange all of these things neatly. And even more: we will make butterflies out of fabric and flowers and hang them on the walls. It is my wish to make this place cozy.”

We decided to give the handmade bouquets to the persons who regularly give help to Kalinovka: our sponsors from Ukraine (Sergei, Viktoria, Tanya P., Natasha L., Irina Ch., and many others); from Holland (Ina C., Nadya Z., Olga Sh., Alina L., and the Dutch orginization “NOMICO,” Oksana Ya.); from Germany (Olga G.); from Switzerland (Irina M.); from U.S.A (David S.), and many many other friends.

P.S.: At the time of the last visit to Kalinovka, one of the lady caregivers came to me and asked how she could give some money for the children with cancer. “It’s not much,” the woman said with embarrassment, “I do not know whom to give it to. I simply heard on the radio a request for help. I thought, even a small sum given by each of many persons — that would amount to real help.” I can picture her salary, with which she cannot even make ends meet; and her entire life—vegetable garden, cows, washing by hand, carrying water in buckets, needing to be heated—of fulfilling all of her basic needs herself. Thank you, anonymous lady whose heart has not turned to stone! Your little coins worked one more Miracle that you would not believe!

Anya Gerashchenko, Kharkov (ann.g.ko@gmail.com)

Translated by David Sudermann (dsudermann@charter.net)

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