Nastia's orphanage is in the middle of nowhere. In fact, every year that I go back, the driver gets lost in the hills around the orphanage for a good hour before we find it. All dirt roads. All leading up and down into little hillside villages made up of severely impoverished families living in dilapidated houses the size of a small shed.
Each year, I see more drunken men sitting outdoors in the early morning than I'd care to admit. Children covered in dirt and threadbare clothes wandering around the roads by themselves. A few hardworking old women tending to their potatoes in their postage-stamp gardens. Dogs with protruding ribs chained to the side of houses or running wild in and out of the streets. This is the world these children live in, the world my daughter grew up in.
Each year I bring a giant duffle bag full of clothes and toys from home. I also buy 75-100 pairs of shoes in country ( depending on how many funds I'm able to raise) and set up a little 'store' in the main hall of the orphanage. We let the kids come in, by group, and choose a pair.
These are some of the shoes we bought last summer. Anya and her friends picked them all out, at less than $8 a pair. We ended up with over 50 pairs. Fifty happy kids with new shoes for the summer!
This post was actually my friend's idea. She suggested there may be many readers who want to help, and every bit makes a difference to these kids! Here's how you can: If you send a donation of any size, I promise that every cent of it will be spent on the children at Nastia's orphanage. If you have a specific desire for something -- shampoo or art supplies or even bikes and bigger things -- just mention that in your email or snail mail letter and I will see it done. I will even take photos of what I bought with your funds!
I plan to leave about the 23rd or 24th so you'd need to send snail-mail checks pretty soon, but paypal can be accepted up until the 21st. If you are so inclined to pass this post on to others who might want to contribute, I'd be most grateful. There is a link at the bottom of the post to make it easy to share on facebook and other sites.
If you have ANY questions or concerns, do not hesitate to ask me.