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The Letter from Mom of Children with Special Needs

A true story of a former charity foundation employee who six years ago became a real mother for a number of special kids in the Kalinovka orphanage
Author: Maria Semashkina, translated by Daria Sukach, www.deti.zp.ua Published: June 19, 2014, 21:00 1912

It’s six years since the Happy Child has been financing the work of caretakers in Kalinovka orphanage. Olga used to work with bed-ridden orphans – those children who basically have no proper living conditions in our country. Olga has become a real mother for these children over the last six years. Every month the caretakers write a letter to their far away penpals, people who help us manage Kalinovka orphanage projects. I asked Olga to share in her next letter her own experience of work with bed-ridden children who last June were transferred to Kirovo orphanage.

Dear friend,

Warm greetings to you from me, Olga, and the girls from the sixth group home. Last week I was working in a new group home. It’s very nice, comfortable and cozy. A huge thank you to the Happy Child charity foundation and all donors who kindly care for our orphans.

All of last week we were learning how to get on with children. I was carefully watching the girls – the way they were communicating with each other, what sort of activities they were enjoying. I was assisting Larisa with learning some poems by heart for the Happy Home opening day. I haven’t quite figured out how to organize our day. Besides all the girls are different and require different approaches. It occurred to me that I still devote more time and attention to Olya, Anzhela and Varya since they were recently fighting a very bad cold accompanied with fever and cough.

Olia

Anzhela

Varya

I am also a little bit sick, but I have to pull myself together since I am having a hard day tomorrow – “my” children are moving to a new group home. A little ray of hope that my kids could stay “at home” was still warming my heart. But, alas!

When I look at Katya and Larisa who came back “home” after visiting their friends in a new home, it seems to me they miss them.

What will my children do until they get used to a new home?

Maxim, for example, refuses to eat when a new caretaker comes to feed him. I was the person who always fed him and whenever I had weekends he was served by the girls he knew well.

Maxim

Egor doesn’t like fish soup. Everyone knows about his tastes and secretly feeds him some milk formula or mashed potatoes; otherwise he will immediately start screaming throughout the whole building. Lena S. is afraid of strangers. As soon as she sees someone unknown to her, she has a scared look and starts to weep. Snezhana should be taken to a playroom and have music on or she will scream all day long.

Tania recognizes people by their voices. When she hears a familiar voice, she smiles and reaches out for a hug. Yulia on the contrary is not keen on being touched. She listens when she’s spoken to and watches her toys. Danil is a special case. He gave me orders of all sorts, like to take him to a playroom and fifteen minutes later to watch TV. Girls say I spoil him.

I don’t know how I’ll manage without these children. On my way to the sixth group home I come over to say hi to the children and my eyes became filled with tears. I just can’t help crying whenever I see Maxim’s defenseless face as if he senses something and the way he purses his lips.

I remember my first job interview. When Anya showed me the children – I cried. It was the first time I saw these special children. I saw them in dreams at night and almost every day for a long time. My hands have cared for so many children who after learning, said goodbye and moved away.

Oleg S. learned to walk and hold his spoon independently here. Andrey Z. learned to stand and walk with some support…

We also lost many children. When I was dressing Nadia S. for hospital, I was hoping things would go well for her…but alas…

Sergey M., Andrey B., Nastia F…

Some of the children were transferred to different orphanages: Roma, Nastia L., Anton P. Anton used to say “Olia, you’re so good”…How are they?

It seems like it was just yesterday. We didn’t have a playroom at first, so we played with the children in the hall with some of the kids sitting in baby carriages, in our laps or on the floor. Later we were given half of a ward for playing. Volunteers brought us toys and tables. We taught these special children how to hold toys, and how to stand and sit. They were discovering the world while playing. Soon afterwards we had our playroom ready.

My colleagues who worked in the orphanage before me told me that the children did not go outside for years.

The children and I got to know each other better day by day. I’m good at understanding who needs what nowadays, but it was a real disaster in the beginning! I was gradually learning how to get the children dressed, sit him/her down, feed and choose the best position for playing.

I’m grateful to the Happy Child charity foundation for organizing trips to Kharkiv, Lviv, Znamyanka and Zaporizhzhia for the staff of caretakers. I enjoyed my visit to the rehabilitation center of Lviv. Thanks to the people who work there, our caretakers have achieved some results.

Our accomplishments may be small, but when I enter the room and see how glad a child is to see me - I feel that my work with these children all these years is the best reward.

I am in the same emotional condition as six years ago - I wonder if I can manage something with these children. What I don’t doubt, is that I will love them no matter what.

Perhaps this letter is not written so well. I am sorry! My thoughts are confusing and the tears are streaming down my face. That’s how I’m doing, my friend…

Best wishes,

Olga

We’re really grateful to everyone who supports special children and their caretakers from the Kalinovka orphanage. Thank you for giving us your great support in the past and today as a “mom” for bed-ridden children is also caring for the girls in our second Happy Home. “Her” children still need your help in the Kirovo orphanage. You’re welcome to contact us anytime at the cellphones: +380990235609 or +380637336138 or email us at info@deti.zp.ua.


Happy Child foundation - effective help to the most needy children of the Zaporozhye region, Ukraine, since 2004

More than 16 years of trust of donors and benefactors, thousands of aid transaction processed every year. Full transparency in the usage of donation
You donated $180 129 in 2020

Our expenses in 2020

120 sick children: $93 996 
Medical equipment: $6 836
To disabled orphans: $20 820
To eco-village for orphans: $11 278
To orphans and poor families: $4 018
To adults ("Helpus" charity): $8 234
Administration and fundraising: $18 118
Total sum of expenses: $169 324 

$4 748 043 donated since 2007

They need help:

Vladislav Bogomazov, 6 years old - Cystic fibrosis, severe course

Vladislav Bogomazov, 6 years old - Cystic fibrosis, severe course

Olga Pavlenko, 14 years old, high degree cystic fibrosis

Olga Pavlenko, 14 years old, high degree cystic fibrosis

Alisa Onufriyeva, born in 2007 - cystic fibrosis

Alisa Onufriyeva, born in 2007 - cystic fibrosis

Mark Bondarev, 5 years old - Cystic fibrosis

Mark Bondarev, 5 years old - Cystic fibrosis

Arthur Kerimov, born in 2011 - symptomatic myoclonic epilepsy

Arthur Kerimov, born in 2011 - symptomatic myoclonic epilepsy


Child needs a family: Ulyana, born May 12, 2015

Child needs a family: Ulyana, born May 12, 2015

A Child Needs a Family: Innokentiy L., born in 2004

A Child Needs a Family: Innokentiy L., born in 2004

A Child Needs a Family: Vijay Ch., born in 2003

A Child Needs a Family: Vijay Ch., born in 2003