Kostroma Kids Program
Small Things Can Make a Big Difference
Artyom is labeled "debil" (slow). At 9 years old, he still could not read or write, and he was difficult to understand when he spoke. But there was no child at the orphanage filled with more love and affection.
During our 2004 program, the orphanage director asked if we could help him purchase backpacks and gym bags for the kids to help them carry their books to school, a one mile walk in the middle of the harsh Russian winter. The kids were excited to have their first backpack, but no one was more thrilled than Artyom because he did not think he would get one. He rarely got what little the other kids received.
Each kid came into our room and chose a bag, then they returned to their floor and gave the bag to the floor mother to store in the closet until school began in the fall. But not Artyom. He absolutely refused to let anyone take his bag, no matter how much we tried to convince him that he would get the bag back. When we went down to say goodnight to him several hours later, he still had the bag on his shoulder, laying in his bed!
The next morning, I woke up and walked out the front door to see him hanging from the swing set with the bag still on his shoulder. He ran up to me to tell me all about his new bag! We went to my room and got a permanent marker and wrote his name all over the bag. Only then was he willing to let the bag be put in the closet.
Although we often purchase clothing and other supplies that the children need, the main goal of the summer program is not to give the kids material goods. Instead, it is to help them understand that they have value. Sometimes, that means just having a backpack all their own. It may not seem like much to us, but to a kid who has nothing of their own, who has been abandoned, and who is subjected to ridicule by other kids simply for being an orphan, the smallest thing can mean a great deal. Click here to support the summer program...