Thursday, April 9, 2015

Where my kids grew up

Four days of bonding, and blending and becoming a family.

We were able to walk around the small town seeing the store,  the pond, the park. The Wild chickens, and the smell of burning garbage filled the streets.

In Ukraine many of the cities and towns do not have trash disposal set up, no landfills, so the people burn their trash.

However in their town, the people bring their trash for the orphans to burn. 10-16 year old kids burn garbage together in groups during their school day.. No wonder Yana had dark dirt lines on her bare neck, It was ash from a never ending chore. To top it off the orphanage does not provide them with supplies like soap or hot water.

 Broken asphalt with large cracks of rubble line the streets and roads in Ukraine. All rides are bumpy to say the least unless you are in Kyiv (and even then sometimes). The center divider line more like a guideline and not necessarily a restriction. Cars swerve to either side of the road to make a pass, dodge hitch hikers, or avoid falling into potholes.  All of this making diving a terrifying experience for a visitor, so when arriving in the village, I was happy to hear most people walk in this small town of less than 1000 people.

As we explore, I learn the library is also a disco, the grocery store is the size of my kitchen, and the "hospital" is someone's home. This is where my children have grown up.

Yana has 4 students in her class, and when hearing this I can't help but think of the middle school she will be attending, I am guessing it is at least 400 times what she is use to.

Don't get me wrong, Ukraine has beauty to it and is quaint and charming, wood shudders on the windows, red benches next to old blue fences in front of a home. There is a sense of safety about everyone knowing everyone.  Except when you are an orphan, there is a constant stigma that can never be erased. Everyone knows everyone and everyone knows you were abandoned and unwanted. And the town treats you as such.
In the only store in town
We walk down a small hill to see the store, but as we do, school lets out and the kids learned that we were walking around. All of the sudden, over 30 kids ages 7-16 surrounded us. 3 orphanage workers came out of no where and started screaming at them violently while shewing them back up the hill, looking at the visitor in a way of pride, almost like saying we run a tight ship. 

Disappointment on their faces as they are being scolded.  For what?... trying to find the new faces of people that bring them food and look at their pictures, the people that will notice them.. Many turn around still while walking up the hill just to be able to say "Privet" to one of us and give us a smile. We smile at them, and wave has they walk backwards up the hill. They turn around and skip, someone saw them today. Bliss. A memory for them to hold on to.

As Yana, Alex, Ally, and I (with Roman because he's our body guard, Ally and I joke) re-enter the orphanage I see the 10 year old boy that asked me for more gum on Friday.  At the store I had picked up 3 packs for him and left it on his bed. When I told him, he squeezed his chubby hands together, clapped and jumped up and down. He ran inside to find that some had already stolen it.
Actually, the body soap we had purchased earlier in the week had been stolen from the younger kids too. I had written in my last blog the thrill of the young boys having something of their very own running up and down the hallway with their very own soap. And hearing of this and seeing the disappointment on W's face about his gum, I am filled with anger.

Roman reminds me the cycle of abuse and orphan dynamics, while Yana and Alex are on a hunt for who stole the gum. "I know, I know," I say to Roman,  "but there just such jerks (I used another word) to each other."
I am told the  older kids trade it for cigarettes, not because they like to smoke but because it stops them from being hungry.

Alex enters the room and gives me a hug, obviously he can tell I am livid. I tell him to look in my purse, and he finds some loose gum pieces at the bottom of it left over from the airplane and gives them to W. W turns around and shares the gum with 5 of his friends, Yana being one of them. I am no expert but, it almost seems like the younger kids watch out for one another and the older are more like instigators, probably just dishing out what they endured when they were younger.

Their standard of living is stuck on survival. Steal food, goods, money to buy or trade for the things you need to live, not luxuries but necessities.

I ask Alex if anyone ever messes with Yana, knowing she is younger, Alex laughs. No one wants to mess with Yana. I believe him, Yana is feisty.

I thank God I am getting them out of there in a short 4 weeks and pray that the other kiddos find families so they can get out of that place too, it's poison. They are broken and sad, they need someone to love them, they deserve it.

Bonding blending and becoming... now its back to broken.

It was the last day with them and that night headed back to Kyiv then San Diego. And although I am excited to come home and see my girls and Adam, I find myself crying in the car driving away.

The words "thank you for coming Ukraine, I love you mom." Ring my in my ears. Alex watches me walk out the door.
 Yana turns away and goes back to her room to eat the snacks she was given, That stupid wall is up again, no tears and a side hug..."bye Keem" (she called me mom all weekend?) Her pain is so apparent, even though she tries to hide it.

 I hate leaving them, but by this Friday  I will know my final court date and will be back again with in the month. The adoption will be final this month. THIS MONTH PEOPLE!!!!

Thank you to all who have donated and prayed to give these two children a life outside of this small town in Ukraine. Thank you all for giving them a family. As always if you feel called to help you can  do so here.

1 comment:

  1. Let God bless you! This is a difficult time for Ukraine. We are helping children in its orphanages. Visit our website to learn more info, please