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Teach Me to Believe!

September 19, 2013, 11:00 4497 Author: Maria Semashkina, translated by Oxana Burns www.deti.zp.ua Perhaps, in order to realize this objective we keep coming to visit and support the children and adults in Kalinovka

It was supposed to be an article about another trip of Kalinovka orphanage fosterlings to Berdyansk. But suddenly I realized that this trip is almost like the round-the-world trip not only for the residents of Kalinovka, but for me personally occurring simple things sometimes turn out to be far more important and profound.

But at first let me say a few words about the trip itself. Last year it seemed that even going anywhere by bus was some kind of a great occasion for the children from the orphanage in Kalinovka. This year the bus trip ceased just being a highlight. Everything outside the bus windows was fantastically important.

I was "lucky" to sit next to Oleg, who usually says only the first syllables of words and always asks a thousand questions in a second. "Masha, is this a house? - Yes, it is. - A big house? - Yes, a big one. - And do we have a big house? - No, a small one. - And this one? – This one is big. - What's that? - A shop. – A shop? – Yes, it is. - And is this also a house?"- I had been answering such questions for an hour on our way to Berdyansk. Then another 20-minutes' drive along the streets of the city, when the children pointed at every house we passed and asked if it was the zoo.

We were pleased to find out that the zoo was quite adapted for people in wheelchairs. But all the animals were located within such a small area that it took a group of 20 people about 30 minutes to walk around and see them all.

On the way to the zoo, most of all the children and the adults from Kalinovka were excited whether they would see a lion and a monkey. I do not know what was so important about a lion, but monkey’s behavior sometimes reminded me of one of the fosterlings. This comparison doesn’t offend Yuri and as soon as he saw a monkey, he immediately cried out, "Masha, a monkey is like me", after that as a joke one of the Kalinovka grownups suggested putting Yuri into the cage and take the monkey with us.

In addition to monkeys, we saw camels, wolves, leopards, parrots, alpacas and other animals which the children had never seen before even on TV, and as I had poorly studied zoology, I couldn’t remember what they were called.

All animals with horns and fur, for children as well as for me, were either a bull or a goat, depending on their size.

Sasha - one of the representatives of Kalinovka "young generation" - tried to take the bull by the horns in the truest sense of the word. For Sasha it seemed quite normal to touch the bull by its horns and stroke. Probably because he helps to graze cattle and a bison in Kalinovka, and in my opinion (if I am not mistaken it was a bison) for him it was just another bull from the herd.

Children from Kalinovka also tried to pat ponies, goats, pigs, some raccoon-like animals and did not realize that they could bite. On the contrary, if they were allowed they would get in a cage to the wolves (a "doggie") or leopards (a "kitty") in a twinkling of an eye.

Fortunately, there were no injuries or bad adventures, and when we were leaving, our naturalists were even presented with souvenir badges and notebooks for good memory.

It would be sad to go home right after the thirty-minute excursion, so we decided to take a stroll along the embankment of Berdyansk. Another Sasha, one of Kalinovka senior guys, first told me that he had already visited this city and the zoo, and in the middle of the embankment he stopped and said, "My God, how beautiful it is! I've never been here".

We had a pretty short walk along the coast, but the next day some of the children contrived to tell others that they happened to be swimming in the sea the previous day. To tell you the truth, we didn’t even go down to the sea. But it was very interesting for many of them to look down to the sea, the ships far off. Sasha, who had never been to the seafront, asked me whether those were real ships. Of course, they were.

For me all the children from Kalynovka –junior and senior, seem to be the same as others, so I was surprised when a young man approached me on the embankment and offered a free horse ride for the disabled children. Well, yes, they are in wheelchairs; yes, they greet each passerby, but it did not occur to me that based on this they were easily identified as people with special needs.

Anyway, junior kids were allowed to ride small ponies, and senior kids rode the real big horse. The first one to ride, as almost always and everywhere, was Oleg, then Yuri, who, even thanked the horse when he was getting down. Frankly, having ridden a horse in the Carpathian Mountains in due time, with all my upbringing and education it didn’t occur to me to say "thank you" to the horse...

After Yuri and Oleg, only little Maxim made up his mind to take a ride. He grabbed the reins, but did not show how scared he was, because probably he decided to be a brave Man to the end.

"Senior" guys also had free horse rides, and took a free picture with pigeons. Little Yuri steadfastly held the pigeon on his shoulder, but it was obvious he was afraid that the pigeon would peck him in the neck and it would hurt. But as previously in the zoo, nothing bad happened.

And on the way home both big and small kids kept asking me questions about everything and everybody. "Is Berdyansk a small town? Is Zaporizhzhya larger than Berdyansk? Are there any trams in Zaporizhzhya? Are there any traffic lights in Zaporizhzhya? Is this a house? What is it? And are those cars? Can I buy a car?"- And I was asked all these questions not only by the children but also by adults who are my age.

Things we do not pay attention to. Small things we do not think about. Houses, shops, cars, traffic lights. Big cities and small towns. And then you hear the eternal question - "Masha, are you going home? – No, I’m not. - Will you stay with us? – Yes, I will". And saying "yes", I know that I will have another evening with the kids and TV.

Fortunately, instead of watching cartoons and a routine program, they had a dancing party that Saturday. That evening volunteers musicians together with Albert after having visited two nursing homes for disabled adults decided to call on at Kalinovka too. Each of us, adults, showed how we could play the guitar - by virtue of our knowledge and skills. Each of the children decided to show how they can play the flute and the guitar and how much they can enjoy life.

"Teach me to believe" is the book that is on the shelf in our "Happy home". I have no idea what it's all about. But its title precisely reflects why I continue to go to Kalinovka, and why we should appreciate what we have. And to believe that there is charm in big houses, monkeys and even in dancing when someone plays a single guitar chord. Believe in yourself and in those who need you, believe in you and me. Thank you...

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