Mum for two weeks

Nadezhda Vyshnevskaya, "Stary Zamok"  23 May 2012 16:06  45812921 013288
Mum for two weeks

...A boy with a big head drooling, mumbling something, playing with toys in his hands. His neighbor has got a misshaped body. He does not talk, just shouts. There is a girl shrunk on the bed with her thin legs appearing from under the blanket. Some of the students of Olshansky orphanage in Khust district have only seen three sides of the world - the ceiling, right and left sides. It takes them years to learn to hold a spoon. The distance from the plate of soup or porridge to their mouths is like miles of a road. It takes them years to learn to speak, brush their teeth, wash themselves, go potty, sit or stand...

Money for repairs from all over Europe

Olshansky orphanage has become a home for children, adolescents and young people aged 4 to 35. The establishment belongs to the III-IV profile, i.e. there are students with severe psychological and physical disabilities. The orphanage was built back in 1961 in a former administration of Tereblya-Rikskaya HPS. Then, in Soviet times, people with disabilities were being "removed" out of a human eye, completely isolated from society.

Same year 23 students made their home here. Little by little, in the orphanage one more dormitory was built, as well as a farm building, warehouse and a boiler house. In the late 90's benefactors from France ordered bathrooms and built training workshops to enable children to get engaged in occupational therapy. At the same time back then the orphanage suffered a great misfortune - flooding. Water washed away a large area of the school, destroyed buildings and roads. European sponsors helped restore the orphanage.
Bogdan Kikin says that over the last three years in the orphanage for public money and patronage nearly fifty rotten windows, rusty pipes and a roof have been replaced in the dormitory. Rooms, a medical room, a canteen and a corridor on the second floor have also been renovated. In Brno, Czech Republic, a charity auction was held, where they raised money for the renovation of two bathrooms, and now they are ordering the third one. The orphanage has been equipped with new toilets, bathtubs, water heaters, sinks and the hood. They bought a washing and a dough-making machines, two electric stoves, bread baking cabinet and two refrigerators ... Then opened their own bakery. Two or three years ago they didn’t have all this.

Best 24 adult students have been living in the youth department of "Zontiki" in Tyachiv for nearly three years. Six gifted students of the orphanage even starred in the movie about Nicholai Shugai in the village of Kolochava in Mizhgiria district. Last year the film won at the International Film Festival in Prague. Every year, some children have holidays at the Black Sea and in Switzerland.

"Last year, we received the humanitarian aid of 860 000, - said Bohdan Mykhailovych. - Almost every day people bring bananas, apples, tangerines, chocolates, juices, biscuits... At the end of the year there is a lot of vegetables, we pickle cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes for winter. Children help with the housework, we look after the pigs, cows, goats, chickens, rabbits and six dogs. The children do not just study, but are educated here. They are engaged in art and weaving workshops... We have a small group of 9 people who already dance, sing and act a little".

Volunteers from the Czech Republic - NGO "Pustj" are helping Olshany orphanage.  These are the department of rehabilitation specialists of Faculty of Medicine in Ostrava University, inpatient facilities, looking after children with disabilities from the Czech Republic, architects, programmers, theologians and social workers ... The nurses of Olshany orphanage learnt to care for children with disabilities in the Czech Republic and Switzerland. In Lviv, at the International Ukrainian-Netherlands MATRA project they learned to feed the children with impaired chewing function and digestion. Bogdan Kikin frequently visits orphanages abroad. He said it is fabulous there. "There is more stuff and the resource base is much more powerful. There are entire rehabilitation complexes with all the machines, swimming pools, a variety of therapies... A group consists of 6-8 children maximum, each having five professionals involved. While we have one nanny to work with twenty children..."

Bogdan says that so far they have a big problem with the staff – or rather with the lack of it. "For more than two years we have had no psychiatrist. The staff position is provided, but it still remains vacant. We cannot find one. Students do not want to go to the village to work. They all want to be either gynecologists or surgeons... Here we have a regional psychiatric hospital which has as many as four vacancies. They provide accommodation, up to a few thousands of salary: 25% - for special working conditions, 25% - because of the mountainous area, plus shifts... But no one comes. The same is with the rehabilitation specialists. There used to be a man here, who worked for a year, trained in the Czech Republic and later resigned. In mid-June, two of our workers are going to study in the Czech Republic again.

"We have nursed almost all the children, - said Bohdan Kikina. - Until recently, babies were not even able to hold their heads. We have got three newcomers – everything they could was only crawling on their knees. And now look at them: they can move almost on their own. To teach such a child to go potty is already a great achievement. To teach them to wash and brush their teeth is something unbelievable".
Czech volunteers of NGO "Pustj” have been working with the children in Olshany for over ten years. They come here in groups of twenty people four times a year. Now the orphanage has 13 volunteers.
Lukash Stanek from Prague is here for the first time. He is in charge of a 6-year-old Yovshko – they are playing with macaroni. A small boy is puts them into a bottle and then gleefully scatters them everywhere. Lucash has already adapted and doesn’t feel any psychological discomfort. It is not difficult, he says, hugging the boy.

Monica Redmerova, also from Prague, has come to the orphanage for the sixth time. "We are all volunteers here. We play with children, bathe them, feed them, we draw together, sing, walk, help the nurses... We are learning from them and trying to share our knowledge.” Volunteer Regina is in the studio, she is gathering a few kids - drama therapy is about to start. "Every time we have a new theme, a new fairy-tale character – she explains. - Today these will be pirates. We sit in this colored circle-rug and play with children. This helps to make friends, get to know each other. Games unite them".

And in the next ward a Czech girl is singing a lullaby to a boy with a large head, hugging him, stroking his blond hair”. For the next two weeks this volunteer will be his mother. The mother, whom he has never known and who has not repudiated him in disgust ...

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