Yesterday we visited three groups of toddlers in the regional toddler orphanage. It's that time of year again where the little inmates are mostly confined to their quarters. It's too cold to spend much time outdoors and it gets dark early. The kids get cabin fever as do their caretakers.
There are about 15 kids in the group with the oldest kids. That's too many. They are wild. There are some new (to us) kids in the group and they're still trying to figure out who we are. They don't know us well enough to know that we will be back and that we love them and that we'll make time to hold them so as soon as they think they can escape the glare of their caretakers they go crazy trying to get a share of the affection because they don't appear to get any otherwise.
The older kids who have been in the group the longest know us pretty well. They expect us every Thursday. They want the hugs, too but they're not so wild. They know us and they know we'll come back.
Yesterday we celebrated a birthday for a little fellow that is apparently going home soon. We're so happy for him but we hate it took so long.
The workers don't like us and I guess we haven't done a very good job ministering to them. They don't like the disruption caused by our visits. We don't like they don't allow the kids to be kids and we don't like that they don't appear to love the kids, especially the Roma children. The Roma are a minority group here in Ukraine and throughout Europe. You might know them as gypsies. They face systemic racism, even the children.
During our birthday party, we provided a little cake for the kids. Normally, a friend makes a cake for us, but we didn't plan ahead yesterday so we bought a cake from a friend that works in a nice, upscale cafe. I guess it's an expensive cake, like $6-$8 not counting our friend's employee discount. Anyway, one of the workers told the kids to enjoy the cake because they'd never get to eat like that when they go back to their Roma Camp. Let me put it in context for those of you in the States that might not appreciate the gravity of what was said. It would be like a teacher in Mississippi saying to a mixed group of kids, "all you little black kids better enjoy that good food because you won't get it when you go back to your ghetto."
Unfortunately, I missed the comment. Lena told me about it on the way home. I told her if they ever say anything like that again to tell me right then and after we express our feelings to whoever says something like that, we'll express the same feelings in a meeting with the director the next day.