Every one of us needs a motherās love. This need does not change with age or the condition of oneās health. We need our mom whether weāre happy or heartbroken.
Unfortunately, despite this need for a mom, not everyone has one. Sometimes a mom exists, but she does not want to act as a mom for her child. Thus, such āunwantedā children are taken care of in childrenās homes or orphanages. Some of those children stay there for several years, while some are lucky enough to quickly find a new loving family. Some children stay within the walls of an orphanage for the rest of their sometimes short lives, passing away there since they are often terminally ill and do not receive proper care. A great number of little orphans in Ukraine are destined to spend their lives in those closed-care institutions.
Usually, abandoned children and grownups eagerly call all their visitors āmomā and ādadā. Many little orphans hesitate to call their new male friends ādadā though, but almost every new woman they see is immediately addressed as āmomā. Children probably feel their motherās instinct and silently hope for a warm response.
All the children need love and care even if they cannot read, write or speak. They all need their mommy. This need is especially felt in Chernigov Childās Home in Kalinovka. The bitter truth is many little orphans in Kalinovka may never have a real mom. Many of them will make their first steps with the help of their āpart-timeā mom. If they are lucky, their āpart-timeā mom will listen to their first words. In the evening time their āmomā, a nanny or an educator, will wish them a good night.
The āHappy Childā charity foundation has been supporting the work of an additional staff of educators in Chernigov Childās Home since 2008. There are currently seven educators financed by our charity foundation. One of them , Larisa, helps to carry children from different groups outside for a little stroll. When we purchase a yearās stock of beads for childrenās handicrafts, she will start to run art classes for children with mobility problems.
Lilia and Larisa
Lilia has been holding beads handicraft classes for several years and now with little dwellers of the first Happy Home adaptation group. Lilia also involves children in drawing, especially Sergey and Artyom. Someone has even presented them with an easel. One could hardly imagine five years ago that these ālearning-disabledā children who didnāt even have toys would create their own little masterpiecesā¦
Besides Lilia there are also Valentina and Sophia working in the Happy Home. Valentina has been taking care of children for five years. Before the opening of our āHappy Homeā social adaptation group, she coordinated a group of physically disabled children.
From Monday to Friday Valentina teaches children to read, spell and draw. Thanks to her, children write their first words, read ABC books and colour pictures which most feel is his or her duty to label āMAMAā in capital letters. She is just Valya to them and their devoted part-time mom.
There is another āmomā, Sophia, who makes childrenās weekends brighter.
Nine children from the Happy Home adaptation group usually spend their long evenings in the company of a nanny with whom they watch cartoons, drink tea and fall asleep in a home-like atmosphere.
Together with Larisa, Lilia, Valentina and Sophia, there are three more educators financed by our charity foundation ā Natasha, Olga and Raisa. Olga works with the smallest and bed-ridden children. There are also 18-year and 20-year old Tania and Sasha among those ālittle childrenā. Olga tells us that she used to cry on her way home when she just started her work at the Childās Home. One can hardly hold their tears back when one sees little orphans from Kalinovka.
Since I started my work in Kalinovka last February, I have seen people leaving the department for bed-ridden children and adults many times. These people leave in tears, regardless of their age or gender. The reason is that one can hardly experience such a bitter concentration of childrenās sufferings at one place and time. We never really think of childrenās pain until we see itā¦
Olga takes care of bed-ridden children five days a week and that means many of them have an opportunity to enjoy some fresh air outside during warm seasons.
I never considered how important it is to enjoy a stroll outside until the day I compared the colour of my skin to that of the children who spend every day of their life in bed. Even without a suntan I looked as brown as a berry in comparison with those little āalbinosā. It is no wonder then that these children are so vulnerable to any kind of infectionā¦
I resign myself to the fact that some children are bed-ridden. I clearly see they need proper care and a motherās warmth. We havenāt succeeded in finding any good doctor yet, so we try to support the children with the help of kind āmomsā. Itās already a great achievement when some children learn to walk, hold their bottles and pronounce their first words with the help of Olga.
Natasha also cares for some of the seriously ill children who are not bed-ridden, but also have some great physical limitations. Thanks to her some children can enjoy being outside for at least a few hours a week.
In addition, Natasha helps some of the older orphans, like Larisa and Katya, to draw, and learn poems and songs by heart, as well as embroider with beads.
She also supports some children with their first steps and holding their bottles.
Some of the educatorsā and nannies staff treat the orphans like their own children. However, if one happens to visit the Childās Home in the afternoon or during the weekend, one would see more or less independent children sitting in front of a TV set, while the rest of them lie 24 hours a day in their beds. One would feel like doing nothing but bump their heads against the wall and bite their fingernails in despair.
Raisa is our new educator. She has the group of children with the greatest problems. Since May last year sheās been caring for eighteen physically and mentally disabled children ages 11-21 who can barely crawl around on the floor.
Many children of this ācrawlā group are rather aggressive; they often hit each other and break toys. Some children can do puzzles or colour pictures. One must always keep an eye on every child, however! During my stroll with nine children, accompanied by two volunteers from the USA, I could hardly keep my eye on these little balls of fire! It was tricky to catch one of the boys who was running around the tied goat while trying to avoid its horns!
When some of the studentsā therapists visited Raisaās group, they looked at me in panic and said their female mates should not come to see these violent children.
With every new article I write or visit to Kalinovka I make, nannies invite me to join them. Iām glad to help them as much as I can, but I doubt Iād be able to work there full-time. Many women work in the Childās Home just because there is no other job available in their remote village. Some of the staff, often emotionally exhausted, confess that they would never advise anyone to have such a job and that they would definitely quit it if they had another option. I feel really sorry for them, but I believe it is everyoneās choice ā to work with all your heart and soul or simply because you āhave toāā¦
I really hope that āourā educators put their heart into whatever they do for children. One can definitely notice the benefit of dedicated efforts in the way the children who cannot often speak react when they see and hold the caring hands of devoted women they refer to as their āmommiesā. I see how bed-ridden children smile in response to an educatorās gentle touch. And sure, I can always feel when children love, tolerate or silently hate someone. Luckily, even grown up āchildrenā in Kalinovka are not good at pretending.
The monthly salary of seven educators of Chernigov Childās Home in Kalinovka requires approximately 13,000 hryvnyas or 1,592 US dollars. Every month we have to try hard to raise this sum of money, otherwise some educators will have to leave their job and the children will not receive as much care as they do now. It might seem difficult to accept the fact that one should finance an adult staff to help little orphans. But until the day these children hopefully have their own mom and dad, we have no other alternative but to help them feel the warmth and care of their part-time moms.
We really need your kind support with raising the funds for salaries of educators in Kalinovka! Please help these children who have no one else to rely on! These children turned out to be a heavy burden for their parents and the old staff regulations do not not allow our valorous Ukrainian government to provide little disabled orphans of Kalinovka with what they need the most ā love and understanding.