Pizza and Prayers

We had another successful day visiting the children. Sadly, not all of us made it this time as one of our volunteers was hospitalized. The children, while excited to see us as usual, were quick to notice and ask about our missing team member. We promptly explained to them he was not feeling well and gave him a call so they could say a warm hello and wish him a speedy recovery.

Afterward the children were eager to begin their lesson, so without too much fuss we jumped right in and began our lecture on “professions.” As part of it, they were to learn what a profession is, the different kinds of professions out there, what it’s like being a nurse, police officer, firefighter, veterinarian, and all of the various professions that involve working with people. We showed them pictures of cartoons and movie characters so they could have more of a visual along with some prizes for those who paid attention and answered any of our questions. While simple, their little faces quickly lit up at the sight of chocolates and socks as part of the winning awards. It motivated them to participate and even added a little healthy competition to the lesson, keeping them interested and focused.

Once the fun was coming to an end, we asked each of them what they wanted to be when they grow up, or if there was any profession from the ones we covered that was of interest to them. Without hesitation, each one of the children provided a unique answer. We were shocked and excited to learn about the many different interests and career paths each of them was drawn to.

It looks like we have a future dentist in the house, a future veterinarian, an engineer, a driver, and even an entrepreneur. It was heartwarming to see how each one picked a profession related to their personalities and personal interests from today’s lesson.

After some time learning about the real world and what it takes to be a grown-up, we could tell all of the children had something special to tell. Moreover, there was one, in particular, I want to mention. His name is Yaroslav. He is 12 years old with a very rough past behind his short years of life. He had his first taste of the orphanage life in 2019.

He was refused by his mother in the hospital and lived with his grandmother for a time until she could no longer take care of him. You can tell he has some scars to heal by the way he often runs away to look for his brother. The police usually have to find him and bring him back.

I quickly realized he needed a little extra attention and affection. I tried to gently form a friendship with him and try to begin a conversation. He was a little resistant at first, but I soon found a common language with him that served as encouragement for him to slowly open up about his feelings.

While they are in good hands, it is rough to see how each of them has their own needs and wounds to heal. Even their love language is different and sometimes shaped by their traumatic pasts. Children at the orphanage usually accept reality as it is and are often unaware of their traumas and how these have shaped their personalities. Fortunately, with the right care and attention, we hope to help them move past these and become the best versions of themselves.

After everything, we can say today was a very productive day and visit. The children learned a lot about the many career paths they can take and we even met a new special volunteer. Unlike many of us, this new volunteer is kicking off her volunteer journey at a very young age. Saltanat is only in 9th grade and wanted to be a volunteer for a long time. Fortunately, as we like to say there are no coincidences or random meetings. She was able to join the team after one of the nannies who was friends with her mom got sick and kindly ask Salatanat to help with the kids. Since then, she’s demonstrated to be a kind and brave girl who is always ready to give a helping hand when it comes to the children.

We must say it was a lovely time talking to the kids and meeting new volunteers like Saltanat. It was sad to see the day come to an end, but after a lot of chatting, heartwarming stories, and learning we concluded with some pizza and prayers. The more time we spend with the children, the more we realize that while we try to always teach them something new with our visits, it’s undeniable they always have something to teach us back. It’s a wonderful exchange.