‘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

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A Message to YOU from the Orphanage Director

Blogger friends, you have been so generous. Over $1600 was donated by you this spring towards the 'art room' and 'clean water' funds. Then, close to $500 towards are overage charges for baggage. Can't possibly thank you enough. This was your trip, too, you know!

Anyway, when we arrived for the first day (with the chaperone) I told the Director and the Head Social Worker about all the funds donated and they were speechless. I told them what I hoped to do, and the Orphanage Director asked if she could show me something. She took me upstairs into two of the 'groupa' rooms. As you know, the orphanage is divided into 5 sections. Each has a bedroom and common room for about 20 children. She walked into two of the common rooms and pointed at the furniture, if you could call it that.

In one room, the two chairs were being held together by pieces of cardboard, and one was propped against the wall to keep the back from falling off. The couch was so beyond repair that the seats sunk down towards the floor and a large opening appeared where the back should meet the seat. It had bricks in the back to hold it steady. This was all the seating for one of the girls' groups.

She then took me into one of the boys' groups and it was the same story...only their chairs were completely gone because, as she said, they had fallen apart beyond repair. All 20 boys were using half a couch they had salvaged and the upholstery was ripped off. They were sitting on foam, and filthy foam at that. Then she asked me, 'Keri, I hate to ask, but if you could use that money to purchase new furniture for these two groups, I think the need is much greater, but I leave it up to you.'

Now I knew this was not my money and I did have a moment of anxiety. After all, I had said the money would go towards the art room I envisioned. But I realized quickly that the children preferred to wait for the art room and actually have places to sit to do work, watch tv, etc. They themselves said they'd rather have new furniture. And so I said yes. The responding 'HOOORAH!' was a riot. I guess it's the Russian equivalent of 'Yay!!!' or 'Yippee!'

If there is anyone of you who donated who is even remotely upset I chose to use the money for furniture without consulting you, I will not be offended in the LEAST if you ask for a refund. I did what I thought was best and had no way to consult any of you at the time! I have promised myself to take on an extra school job this winter and pay for the 'Art Room' project myself. I give you my word.

News spreads quickly that the furntiure truck has arrived.
In the meantime, enjoy photos of some of the furniture arriving. It may look ghastly to you (it does to me) but the kids were sooooo happy and the Director was very proud of her choices. She gave me the receipt from the store for my 'records', too. All in all, she got two gigantic couches with pull-out beds for the overnight caretakers, as well as matching chairs that would be delivered the next day. The couches were HUGE and they first brought them to the music room so I could photograph them. Enjoy!
First glimpse of the couches. Ghastly by our style standards, but VERY cool by Russian standards!

The teen boys helped move it all in by sections.

Here is the boys' couch. It also has a pullout bed !

Another shot of the boys' couch. They got matching chairs, too.

And an orange 'delight' for the girls' room! They LOVED it!
It is far bigger than this photo shows. Can easily seat a dozen people!


  1. I've never seen sofas as big as this. This was the right decision, Keri. Thanks for listening and being flexible.

  2. Keri, you are amazing. Your heart and your love just shine with every word you write. I totally agree that this was the right decision, and I can't imagine anyone disagreeing with it. The fact that you can and even understand if someone does means you're clearly more evolved than I! :)


  3. That's awesome!!!

  4. We had furniture that looked like that in our hotel in Ivanovo, and I was there for several visits thinking it was old, weird furniture - until on one walk around an upscale part of Moscow I looked in a furniture store and found that it is simply "Russian style". So many of my children's memories surround the things that happened in those common rooms (and sometimes specifically on the furniture - i.e. leaning on the couch to learn a headstand) that I am sure you did the right thing!

  5. I think they look wonderful! I am so glad the money was put to good use.

  6. You absolutely did the right thing. Love, love, love you!

  7. Ghastly except when covered by smiling children!!!

  8. Great decision. I can't imagine couches being more appreciated than they were on that day. :)


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