Trip report from Bogdan, one of our in-country volunteers:
I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! I would like to congratul...ate everyone with the successful completion of yet another AOS sponsored trip to Kiev for a group of 10 Myko kids. The trip was a HUGE success! The kids were totally blown away. They stayed at Orphanage No.12 from December 26-28 and didn't want to leave today. The first day we took them to a children's Christmas play, McDonald's and the Dolphinarium. The next day they went to see the performance of the Great Circus of China, saw a 3-D Disney movie (Tangled) and had pizza. Today they went to another Christmas show. Their train was leaving at 4 p.m., so we didn't get much time to do other things today. Kiev was beautiful with all the snow and Christmas decorations. There was lots of free entertainment for children downtown, so the kids really enjoyed that. They loved the metro, the escalators, the shiny shopping malls etc. They had breakfasts and dinners at the orphanage and ate lunch in the city. Irina and our grads (Anya, Igor and Vova) were making all the meals. Another lady from the orphanage came to make 'pirogy' (pies) with the kids today, for them to take for the road.
When I asked what the liked the best, most kids said 'dolphins' and 'chinese circus'. I think it wasn't even the circus but just seeing so many people of another race in one place that fascinated them so much. Kids from Tsurupinsk and Myko are always fascinated by seeing people of color on the streets of Kiev because they have never seen them in their small towns.
This group was by far the most well-behaved. Usually Myko kids are pretty wild (which I personally like....most of the time :) but these ones were very quiet, polite and disciplined. Everyone at O12 noticed that. The chaperone that came with the group - Alexey, a PE teacher - was great with the kids.
We gave each kid a present from the boxes of "Blankets in Memory of Brian". Each kid also got two boxes of chocholates and some pocket money to buy a small souvenier (50 grivna, or $6.2).
There is one more thing that I wanted to share with you. Personal observation. When the memories of the previous trips fade away I start wondering if we should organize another trip or not, considering how much money and work these trips entail. But then when the kids come I realize so clearly that these trips are TOTALLY worth it. When you see the excitement and the happiness in the children's eyes, when you see them fascinated by simple things that you see every day, you realize that these moments of happiness and excitement are worth a million dollars. I just feel bad that those who pay for these trips can't see that.