Written by Stuart Holden
Sometimes life can be good and it is at these times we occasionally think how fortunate we are – less frequently we appreciate how lucky we are compared to others. It was at one of these times that I felt I should do something more than just appreciate my good fortune.
On one of my visits to Kiev a Ukrainian friend talked about visits she had made with her university to a children’s home outside Kiev. She described the conditions and how the children’s complete lack of hope and aspiration had upset her. It was her emotion and description which motivated me to see if I could in a small way give at least one child a chance in life and some hope for the future.
It was a large state run children’s home outside Kiev and co-incidentally not far from Friends House. My friend arranged a visit for me during the summer last year. We arrived with the car loaded with fresh fruit, nuts, warm under clothes and socks and sanitary towels (at their request). It was a large home and the children looked well fed and relatively happy. I left not knowing what I should do next.
It is all too easy to have good intentions and as I was to find it is not so easy to put them into action. I was clear in my own mind that I wanted to do my own research and find my own good cause that was outside or at least on the edge of the main stream charities or organisations. This made my task more difficult and therefore doing nothing all the more easy!
Another Ukrainian friend came up with another idea – they had visited Mirjam at Friends House and realised the good work that was being done to help the Kiev street children. This led to a visit to the home in September when I met Miriam and the children. Not wanting to come empty handed we had asked for ideas for things to bring and so arrived with art material so the children (and it turned out the local village children too) could be taught painting and drawing.
I explained to Mirjam that my idea was to help at least one child to perhaps realise their dream after which she told me Maria’s story. Whilst not what I had in my head as my ideal good cause I wanted to hear Maria talk about it and through Mirjams translation she told me how she wanted to go to university to study psychology and to then go on to run a home like Mirjam to help children. Maria is only 16 and has had a terrible background of her own so it is understandable that she would want to understand how the mind works. Perhaps to understand her own feelings or of those who were so cruel to her. At 16 we all had dreams and I’m sure for many of us they were just dreams. But most of us had the opportunity to realise those dreams had we worked hard and been determined but to the children in the home, including Maria, these will only be only dreams.
What should I do after such a short visit, as is too often in life the easiest thing is to do nothing, so I walked away doing nothing!
But I went back to the home this December and spent 2 days at the home with the intention of doing something. Finally I made a decision and was given the privilege of telling Maria that I would financially support her from now until she finishes university. Words are not adequate to describe those moments.
Maria’s future is now in her hands and I am sure with the support and guidance of Mirjam and Bors she will achieve her dreams. That I may have played a small part in that ………