A New Experience

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We made it safely to Russia last night. This morning our team met our interpreters and headed to the orphanage to meet the little ones that we would be spending the next week with. The orphanage was situated on a block where gray was the common color. The orphanage was painted a light green color, making it brighter compared to the other buildings around it. As we entered the orphanage we could hear shrieks of laughter from the children. Some children peered around the corners to peak at us curiously and stuck their tongue out and ran away. Our team split into groups and went with our assigned age groups. The children in our group-4 and 5 year olds-were lively and rambunctious. We soon discovered both the joys and hardships of working with the orphans. The most rewarding thing was being able to bring a smile to their faces with a simple piggy back ride, sledding, or a game of duck-duck-goose. They craved attention and we were more than happy to shower it on them. But with the joys also came difficulties. Not being able to understand the children when they spoke in their native tongue was frustrating. Relying on interpreter to be our voice was a foreign feeling for most of us. Many of the children would compete for our attention because they craved it so much. A lot of the children would refer to us as “mommy.” No matter how much joy we brought these children today, we knew that it could not replace what they craved most:

“This afternoon we had the opportunity to play with the children outside in the snow. They’ve got all kinds of playground equipment that the kids can play on as long as it’s not covered in snow! I was playing on this airplane playset with a 7 year old girl, a 4 year old boy, and my interpreter, Zhenya. The 7 year old girl, Madila, was pretending to be our pilot and joyfully asks, “Where would you all like to go?” Zhenya and I suggested places such as Germany or Italy. We decided to ask the young boy where he would like to go. His response was something I was not ready for, but felt like I should have expected. I’m staring down joyfully at him, expecting him to name a city in Russia or a European country. However, he looks forward and simply says, “I want to go to mom.” I was speechless. Here I am thinking about cool European vacation spots and he is dreaming of home. When he thought of a place he wanted to go he didn’t think of a city, an attraction, or somewhere with favorable weather. He thought of a face. He thought of a person. He thought of the one place that is so easily accessible for so many of us and may be the most inaccessible for him.”
-Hannah Harvey

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