When we visited Shpola Orphanage last week, I was shocked to discover that 8 children had been sent to the Sanatorium!
In Ukraine, a sanatorium is a bit like a health spa with medical services. Children who live in an orphanage or who are in foster care, generally qualify to spend a month per year at a sanatorium. Even though they have to go to school throughout their stay, during this time, the hope is that their immune system is strengthened by having extra rest, better food, fresh air and a medical check. We decided to go see for ourselves.
The Director of the orphanage called ahead to smooth our path, however when we arrived, we still had a couple of hoops to jump through. We purchased masks (to protect the inhabitants, not the other way around!) figured out which building to go to, and we were off! Our Shpola kids were so happy to see Inna, Luda and myself -- and many of the other children were glad to have visitors too!
We brought winter boots, candy and letters! What they wanted most of all was hugs, attention and conversation. Albina wistfully recalled the time when we danced together with long streamers flying all around! Vita asked for paper so he could write a note to his friends in USA. Sergi excitedly told of his plans to stay with a host family in America this summer, and needed my phone number so he could call me. David has grown so tall, that his boots didn't fit! Kolya was busy counting and sharing his candy. Max was introducing his new friends. Bogdan just wanted to sit on my lap and be cuddled.
Please continue to pray for these kids, and for the 150 at Shpola Orphanage, and for the teams who visit and show God's love for them.
I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:36
Depending on which “official statistics” you believe, there are between 70,000 – 100,000 orphans in Ukraine living in about 750 institutions. This is a huge number. The Ukrainian government is doing its best to reduce it and is in the process of developing a foster care system.
But life is not about numbers; rather the children behind those numbers. Children who need our help. Children like Andrei.