New Year is a special holiday. For each of us, this is a time of new hopes and dreams, lights and hanging garlands are flashing everywhere, general atmosphere of the holiday makes us eager to share warmth with someone. At least once a year I want to do something big, to do something not for myself, but, for example, for a lonely child who is in a closed boarding school. A gift is, first of all, a sign of attention and attitude.
At the end of the year, we again visited two psycho-neurological boarding schools to give the children a little holiday and, of course, sweets. The organizer and performer of the role of St. Nicholas was the space volunteer Rudolf Balazhynets (imagine, in 2019 alone he visited 87 boarding schools) and the Snow Maiden Ksyusha Krutsiuk from distant Kyiv.
As a rule, children with mental or physical disabilities live in these institutions – many of them cannot not only take care of themselves, but even take a candy in their hand. Someone can walk, and someone lies in his bed all the time, watching what is happening through its sides or looking at the ceiling. But most of all, these children suffer from sensory deprivation – they lack of usual hugs, human attention, gentle touches, emotional contacts. Therefore, our visits were held under the motto “Hugs! More hugs!”
Even on the way to the boarding school, we noticed how the children look out of the windows and pass the news to each other with lightning speed: St. Nicholas and Snow Maiden have come to us!
You will never forget the feeling when, with your appearance, the children are transformed, as if they come to life, they smile at you with their open, sometimes strange smile, but always very sincere.
Some children were embarrassed by excessive attention, and someone immediately threw themselves into their arms and did not want to let go for a long time. Sometimes, Nikolay and the Snow Maiden retold poems instead of children. A little time passed – and even the most shy children got used to it and no longer wanted to say goodbye. For some reason, I constantly imagined how every child would live in a family and celebrate New Year at home, and not in a boarding school, as he or she would have been then, there would not have been so much sadness in his or her eyes.
Communicating with children, you constantly had to control your lump in your throat so as not to burst into tears. It was especially touching to see tears of joy in children, they become attached very quickly and their gaze remained before their eyes for a long time, it is simply impossible to forget.
Nurses and governesses helped us to distribute gifts. They know all the wards by name, know their desires and dreams. They know every rhyme or song that they have learned with the pupils.
In orphanages and boarding schools, what is most lacking is simple human participation and care. And volunteers for the wards are lively and good friends, ready to help, talk and support. They come, play different games with the children, help the nannies and nurses, organize walks and various excursions for the wards.
Be a mother
— Do you want to be my mommy? Do you want to take me away from here? I’ve been well behaved for a whole year, – a puny girl of about 6-8 years old stopped Snow Maiden in the corridor with these words, with a kind smile and a direct look, who holds the hand of a little boy.
— My name is Katya. And you? I have prepared a poem, do you want me to tell you?
Our Snow Maiden chatted with Katya for another 15 minutes. It became clear that in this boarding school children are open and not afraid, they are not afraid to talk with visitors, there is a healthy psychological climate in the institution.
Snow Maiden extends her hand, sitting down and getting acquainted with the fair-haired girl. She takes her hand with her little baby fingers, offering her friendship. The shyness instantly disappears, and the girl begins to show her toys, all holding on with her small warm palm. From this touch it is felt that you have now been entrusted with something personal, and you did not want to let her go at all. Children quickly become attached, but our Snow Maiden and St. Nicholas also became attached to these children.
But Andrey, a perspicacious boy of about 12, does not leave the guests and shows which corridor to go through, which stairs to climb and where to find the right room. He accompanies us all the time and it is clear that he is pleased to explain and show us something.
Driving away, we still felt those sincere hugs of children, warmth of their hands, which a few minutes ago we felt with our palms, their voices and stories. Children look out of the window and wave goodbye to us.
Think about others
The wards of boarding schools need even more attention and care than we do in life. After all, they are completely isolated from social processes in society and closed in on themselves. Unfortunately, the boarding school system in the country does not ensure their adaptation and socialization, and the reforms have almost stalled. Friends, be kinder and give each other warmth – this is infinitely important. This means that someone will feel needed.
If you really want to make a gift, donate a small amount of money or become a volunteer in one of the charitable foundations that takes care of and helps such children, changes their lives, gives them useful skills that will be useful in the future.