As I write this letter Tom is back in Russia for another trip to the orphanage. He also plans to find a baby orphanage in the same village. He has some very special traveling companions this trip. Tom Helle, a Boeing Engineer and good friend came along to help build a ping pong table and put up a basketball hoop for the kids. Lea Pascotto joined him also. Lea is a teacher at Seattle Preparatory School and was responsible for organizing a Christmas fund raiser where the young adults donated $5,000 to our kids! And of course my sister, Cyndy Sullivan, went along to take more incredible pictures. On this trip the bags were packed with CDs, winter hats, down vests, vitamins, 75 Gund teddy bears, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, jump ropes, rubber balls, hair clips, quilts, wooden cars and trucks which were all donated by wonderful individuals who reached out to us. And, 53 more pen pal letters went along too!
I've talked with Tom every night and he has been successful working through some obstacles that arose in regards to adoption. When he went to the Adoption Center he found out that NONE of the children had ever been registered. According to Russian law the child needs to be registered and following a four month waiting period if he/she is not adopted by someone in the country only then can they become available for International adoption. This paperwork needs to be completed by the orphanage Director. Thanks to my husband's diligence and persuasive talents things are now moving ahead. It seems to us that there may be at least 20 children that could be adopted. Most are in sibling sets of 2 and 3, there is one group of 5!
A day was spent locating the baby orphanage we had heard about during the previous trip. Tom was not allowed to see the babies because they had the flu and the entire facility was in quarantine. The staff were grateful for the vitamins, blankets, stuffed animals and baby toys we left with them. We hope to visit them again on our next trip.
Back at our orphanage the shelves were stocked with the basics and this time Tom also bought 100 chickens. One night they treated the kids to ice cream! The two new stoves had been installed and the cook, Lubov, was busy and VERY HAPPY! The orphanage directors asked him about reinforcing the floor in the room designated for the washing and spinning machines. The heavy machines that we bought on the previous trip would go through the floor in the existing room. He also talked with them about updating the bathroom, which is basically a hole in the floor. There is no hot water. The tile walls, flooring and sinks are in terrible shape. The smell literally makes you weak in the knees when you enter and drifts out from this area to permeate the whole place. The children's bathing area is located in a different building, adjacent to the coal furnaces. This is the only place that has hot water. The children go once a week and wash up with a basin of warm water. We would like to update this somehow and have even envisioned a shower area complete with soap!
Tom gave them the thumbs up on these projects. They anticipate getting started in the summer while the kids are away at camp for three weeks. They joked with Tom telling him that the next time he came he could wash his pants in the new machines.
Jan 19, 1999 Oct 18, 1999 Oct 23, 1999 Oct 31, 1999 Feb 14, 2000 Sep 14, 2000
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