Victoria’s smile revealed she was missing her two front teeth, and she spoke with a lisp as she answered her questioner without a hint of shyness. For a young seven-year-old, she was unusually open, sang without cajoling, and was a most engaging interview subject. The first grader likes her teacher and loves school. Russian schools value memorization of poetry, and most interviews of young children feature at least one recitation; praised by the interviewer after her first poem, Victoria clapped for herself, and launched headlong into a second. Asked about a new friend, Victoria puzzled a moment, and then confessed she didn’t remember her name. Ironically, she wore a shirt emblazoned with a drawing of an elephant and the cryptic English words, “Don’t want to forget me am an elephant.” As the interview was ending, she neatened her pigtails in preparation for photos the interviewer would take.
After Victoria’s turn, her sister Alexandra, nine, arrived back at the orphanage from school, where she’s in second grade. Asked what subjects she liked, she rattled off painting, reading, math, and Russian language without an instant’s hesitation. At her orphanage’s library, she checks out books of fairy tales. She likes watching Chip and Dale cartoons and playing. Several of the orphanages where we work have animals; Alexandra enjoys feeding the dogs and kittens at hers. She easily remembered her best friend, sister Victoria. During free time at school or the orphanage, they visit together. Alexandra added it’s her pleasure to help Victoria when she needs it. As her interviewer translated this, Alexandra smiled sweetly.
The girls arrived at the orphanage a few months ago, after their biological mother’s rights were terminated. At the court hearing which effected this deprival, their mother did not show up to contest allegations of neglect, nor did she trouble herself to inform the court that she would be absent.
As is too frequently the situation with the kids we serve, the one who should have cared most for the girls did not care enough to fight to keep them. So in an orphanage without their mother, little Alexandra does what she can to help her littler sister, only too pleased she has the chance.
Alexandra and Victoria are able to travel on our November 9-15 Lighthouse Project trip to Moscow, provided they have a host family within the next few days. For more information on the trip, these girls, or other children, please call Becky at (616) 245-3216 this week.