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Message from the Boarding School and Orphanage of Shirokolanovka, Ukraine

August 10, 2007

Letter to Bettsy Madison Doll Williams, Missoula, Montana, from Maria Honcharenko, assistant director of the orphanage, Shirokolanovka, Ukraine, former German village of Landau, Beresan District


My dearest and kindest Bettsy!

My sincerest greetings from Landau! I hope you had a good summer this year. Here in Landau, God is putting us on an endurance test. We have to survive a test like this; it is not an easy task though. In the month of May everything was burnt in our area. Dry winter, rainless spring and a summer drought did a lot of harm. Most farmers did not go harvesting – there was nothing to harvest. The sun burnt everything. We have huge problems with water. We have a deep well in the yard, but it has absolutely no water in it now. My husband’s parents say they have never experienced a drought like this. The food prices went drastically up. Winter is likely to be hard, but to be honest, after the 1990’s our people fear nothing more. We’ll survive. Maybe we’ll get slimmer but this is good – we’ll be healthier.

A new school year is approaching and we are finishing the preparations for it. All rooms have been whitewashed, painted and are waiting for the children to come. Now we are redecorating the school buildings from outside in order for them to have a somewhat more attractive look. We have thoroughly repaired two bedrooms in the dormitory down the valley. All dormitories received shower cubicles. We purchased several new beds, desks and some classroom furniture. The teachers finished their vacations and returned to work. I was pleased to hear they were missing the school. To hear something like that is of great importance for me – if they gladly go to work that means they love children. And where is love, there is success.

This summer was splendid for the kids. They spent two months at the seaside. In June the tax administration purchased tours to Crimea to a recreation summer camp. We worried about how our children would be received there and about how our children would behave. But everything went well and the children did not let their teachers down. Compared to the other 800 children who were taking rest in the camp our kids were no worse. Upon return to the school, they presented a certificate of gratitude, which said ‘to the best children of the camp’. In the camp the rooms our children were staying in were located near the camp director’s office. She often came to our teachers with the question, “What kind of children do you have?” and she also thinks we have a secret in dealing with them. I’ve been telling you there is no secret, love to children, exactingness plus ensuring the kids take part in planning their life and then are responsible for every step they take before their classmates. And this disciplines.

In July the children had rest at steppe camp. The conditions there were relatively satisfactory. But from Aug. 2 they are back at the seaside again, this time in Ochakiv [Mykolayiv region]. There they improve their health with the state funds. We are pleased with how the rest is organized and the children feel well there.

Bettsy, the children were eagerly awaiting your visit in May (they got used to your regular visits). And they regretted you failed to come. But all of them love you and hope for another visit. I hope for this too.

Best wishes from Ukraine,

Maria

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