Here I am on the airplane from Amsterdam heading home to Atlanta, and I want to write down a little memory of camp before I forget it. It’s so hard to think of individual moments because the entire week at Kompas Park was momentous.
I remember it was my team’s time to go to the beach. When we got down to the river, I was asked if I knew how to kayak. Sure! Two of the girls, Larissa, and Marina and I, went out in the kayak. Once we got out from shore a little, we noticed these pretty yellow flowers floating in the water. We decided to pick a few. Larissa said, “for Alona” - one of our Ukrainian leaders. So, we really got into it - zig-zagging around the river picking flowers. “There’s one“ and we were having so much fun — until a boat came up next to us. It was Vasya, the head lifeguard, and he told us we weren’t allowed to pick the flowers, as it was illegal! I remembered this as soon as he said it. Oh dear. I felt bad but I couldn’t stop laughing because it really was innocent and so much fun trying to pick flowers for Alona.
When we all got back to the landing, I was asked if everything was ok since we were swerving all over the place in the kayak. Apparently, folks on the beach were worried! I know it’s really not funny because I’m sure the flowers preserve the eco structure, but it felt like a “Lucille Ball” moment for sure. When I told Cyndee about it, she said she would get me out of jail. But the point is, that it was priceless that the girls wanted to collect flowers for Alona and so it was so much fun doing this together. The girls were so excited about giving flowers to Alona. I’m glad I shared this with them, even if I accidentally broke the law.
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.