‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Friday, August 13, 2010

Your Orphanage Questions

I've received alot of emails and facebook messages with questions concerning the orphanage, why I go there, who is there, etc. so I thought I'd tell you some facts about it, and the children there, and then you can ask any questions you'd like to in the comment area. No question is off limits. I'm happy to tell you all I know!  So, here's  a start:

1. There are currently 100 children living here from ages 4 to 16.

2. The director allows some of the older children (over 16) to remain, because otherwise they would be homeless.
3. The orphanage is located in an extremely remote area.

4. Only 7 adoptions have ever happened here, mostly because it is in such an isolated area. (Most adoption facilitators in Russia do not want to work there. They told me this directly.)

5. Their entire monthly budget right now goes towards food, and they still do not have enough to go around.

6. Many of the children do not have shoes. (They often share a pair with others.)

7. Many, at my last visit,  did not  have any underwear or socks.

8. They wear the same clothing every day.

9. They must wash their own clothing, by hand. Yes, even the four-year-olds.

10. They all sleep either nude or in underpants - no money for pjs.

11. They sleep 16-20 to a room, in a series of bunk beds.

12. Their diet is very limited, and pretty much all the children are anemic, have a vitamin c deficiency and have giardia. (My daughter weighed 72 lbs at adoption, and she was almost 13.)

13. They have a rotation of caretakers, always changing every few days. No consistency. Some good, some bad. And there are no male role models for the boys. 

14. Many have spent their life here without ever getting a letter or phone call from anyone. Ever.

15. They own NO personal property - no toys, no books, no clothing.

16. Most admit to still hoping to hear from a parent one of these days. All I spoke to dream of being adopted, second only to a dream of being reunited with their birth parent.

17. You have the power to change a life with just some spare change! I have seen the shock and joy on their faces. You will literally CHANGE THEIR LIVES by showing your care. How lucky is that?

If you donate even $5 to paypal,  a child can get soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and a toothbrush!

If you donate even $1, that's a pack of pencils for school and paper to boot

I hope no one feels offended at my asking. Please do not feel obligated in any way! I just want to offer the opportunity to anyone who has some extra change and wants to support this particular venture. I certainly understand not everyone can, or wants to. to each his own!

So, ask away. Ask any questions you might have about this orphanage and these kids, and I'll answer. And don't worry, I will take lots of photos while I'm there!


  1. I've got two boxes full of crayons, pens, pencils, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and I forget what else I crammed in there. There's a total of 100 toothbrushes, small tubes of toothpaste, and soap bars (the soaps vary a lot in size). I forget how many of everything else I threw in there and I've misplaced the list I wrote out. Depending on how bad the damage on postage is I might be able to send a little money for you to buy them some paper to go with it. I'm hoping to hit the post office tomorrow, but I'll let you know for certain after I've been.

  2. Keri correct me if I am wrong but I bet money is lighter to carry through 2000 miles of Russia than a bunch of stuff. Not to mention the good of spending money in Russia for the local economy and the fact that most items are so much cheaper there. I bet by this point you have all the stuff you can carry and to be able to give the orphanage some cash to buy some healthy food for the kids would be a miracle to them!
    I remember I visited an orphanage during my time in Russia. The director was so excited to have an American to visit (this was in the early 90's in a formally closed area of Russia). They offered me tea, which is a proper way to greet a guest. I remember the embarrassment on their faces when they told me that they had no sugar to offer me. They simply could not afford it. SUGAR?! It broke my heart.
    Praying blessings on your trip and may God touch many through you!

  3. Nanette, youre right. I learned the hard way that bringing so much "stuff" over is more than difficult -- customs, weight limits, and not to mention the hardship of carrying it all myself!
    I HATE HATE HATE asking for money...its easier to ask for stuff....but I'm doing it, because I kNOW most people can spare $5, and I know what joy $5 can bring to a child! A toy, a new pair of shoes! for the price of what we pay for a coffee and donut, we are giving them joy that will last weeks! I'm currently trying to get my students to fundraise this week. I'm challenging them all ( about 100 of them) to raise $5 each!

  4. I'm surprised that the caretakers are not more consistent. In Ivanovo, I guess the economy is so bad that the caretakers get a job like that and are there for life. Plus, they are really loving women. The kids have great affection for the caretakers they had. I remember feeling as though, from that point of view, they had it better off than many an American child with a steady stream of adults "caring" for them in a childcare facility.

    But, the diets there were sad, too...I know the directors do the best they can, but there just isn't money for fruits, vegetables and meats. Once you adopt the children they shoot up; their hair changes quality within weeks, it seems.

    You are so right; I've hauled stuff to even a less remote place and what with all the airline regulations and having to lift it in and out of trains and vans....it is exhausting.

  5. HI good luck with your trip! I have just started reading your blog and find it very powerful! I donated some $ and hope it goes to the shoes or toys! I adopted my daughter from Tver almost 6 years ago at 2 and she weighed less than 20 lbs!

  6. Thank you Kristin!

    This week I am compiling a list of donators and items they wish their donation to go towards. My HOPE is to then take photos of the kids WITH the items, so you can actually see where your money went! I'm hoping to blog while over there, as there is now WIFI at the hotel we'll be at the first few days!


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