Tuesday, November 22, 2016

On to Kyiv

As I said, from Zhitomir we headed back to Kyiv. We went to dinner with a friend of Alys', and then spend the night in the orphanage where he works. Again, there was lots of great conversation over dinner.

First thing the next morning we went to Rodyna. Here is Alys' post about that. The main thing I can say is just wow. I was in awe the whole time and actually fought tears at times because what they have there is so beautiful and so different from what we usually see. The kids have the same kinds of disabilities that we see in Tsyurupinsk, but they also have families and a very rich, loving environment to grow in. Every one of those families has both mother and father; that was one of the things that floored me the most. I'm not sure I've met a family in Ukraine where a child was born with a disability, and the family was able to stay together. Rodyna means family, they are committed to support those families, and it is working!

And then there was the atmosphere there. It was calm, happy, peaceful even when someone might be screaming or not cooperating. When we walked in, they hadn't started their day yet. One of the kids was perched way up on top of the treadmill. A teacher checked to be sure that he was safe and okay, and then just left him happily sitting there until it was time to start. Once the greeting time started, another little guy started to fall apart, so he was calmly told to go bounce in the "relax room" and come back when he was ready. Learning, moving, exploring, growing.... It was all so different from where bodies are just kept alive. These kids are thriving!

Something they mentioned that I hadn't thought about before is how "the system" here knows what to do with kids who don't see, or don't hear, or maybe even who have classic autism. However when someone has complex diagnoses, they're stuck. And what we see so often is that they get warehoused in an orphanage, and whatever they started off with is compounded by institutionalization. Rodyna gives a beautiful alternative to that last bit.

One thing Alys said was that she would like anyone who works in her homes to observe a day there and a day in Tsyurupinsk. That pretty much sums it all up.

After we were officially done there, we had time before the carpenter Alys needed to meet with was available, so we drank tea and talked more. We met some of the moms and other people connected with the center and heard their stories.

Then the carpenter picked us up, and we sat in his van and talked about building details and documents for that for a while. He dropped us off at the metro, and we went to meet someone about windows for the house. That meeting went well, too, I think. After that, Alys' friend kindly brought us our bags from the orphanage, and--utterly exhausted--we got on our train to head home.


Mom said...

I would have fought tears the entire time. What a vision of hope! Love you.

Baba Julie said...

Wow, Phyllis! Just, Wow! What a vision to have such a place for all disabled children. Because, of course, institutionalization would compound any problems children are already experiencing. I will be praying w/ you all that you can be the impetus in seeing others like it built and run in Ukraine. So glad you were able to make this trip! Love to you all!!