МАЛЬТІЙСЬКА СЛУЖБА ДОПОМОГИ

Івано-Франківськ

Збереження віри та допомога потребуючим

Діяльність

Today Saint Nicholas together with the Maltese Relief Service has began visiting orphanages. The first to receive presents from the Saint were the wards of Nadvirna nurseling home, Pereginsk and Gvizdets auxiliary boarding schools.

Anastasia Tiushka, the MRS volunteer shares her impressions:

"We chanced to accompany the Saint to a boarding school in Gvizdets, Kolomyia region.

Not even having properly parked the van, we immediately notice kids clinging to the windows and cheerfully waving at us. By the entrance a teacher meets us, she says the kids have been looking out for us since 11 am already. We try to justify ourselves: of course, Saint Nicholas had to check everything and make sure he’s packed all the presents, as he didn’t want any of these good kids to be left without a present. Naturally, it has taken him this long.

On our entering the school hall dozens of kindling eyes turn to us. The kids glaze with anticipation, some kind of hope. If only you could see their faces when somebody smiles back, winks or waves back at them! They are happy – genuinely, without a trace of falseness. Some are more expressive, others keep a bit calmer, but you know that your presence here (in fact, the actual reason of you being here) causes great excitement and this strange veneration: something big is happening, everybody’s in high and joyful spirits, wait a bit longer and one will be allowed to tear off the wraps and rip open these huge colorful boxes!

    

Anyway, hardly restraining their impatience, the children carefully watch the little play, listen to some moralizing and then hurry to recite a poem or sing a tender song for the Saint. And now, at last it’s time! Saint Nicholas invites children one by one and hands in a present. Such moments are full of fascinating details: how touching it is when a tiny thin boy tries to grip his arms around the packet significantly larger than he is; how he can’t find the right way to put his hands on it; how, suddenly becoming shy in front of the clicking and flashing camera, he drops his eyes and hurriedly makes his way to the seat near his classmates; how someone forgets the fruit bag - because he’s so excited! - and the attentive “angel” catches up with the kid and gives the bag. After a group photo the children leave the hall carrying (often - pulling) an enormous “mystery-box”…

We go to see the merry kingdom of chaos into which a classroom has turned. Every kid empties the box onto the desk, enjoying its content. They don’t linger and try on new skirts and trousers right here… «Miss “Teacher”, Miss “Teacher”, look, I have a striped turtleneck! It’s just like the one I asked for!» And your face shows happiness, but deep inside an invisible, but so very tangible fist squeezes something and you think: “Why on Earth should this little person boast her presents to a teacher, but not mom and dad??? ” Even now there’s no answer.

A lively girl wearing a pink sweater catches your sight. She’s trying to put on warm brand new boots, but she’s forgotten to unzip them. Without thinking, you come up and help her with the zipper, then, when she’s deciding if the boots fit, a dialogue takes place
-I know, Did Moroz (ukr. for Russian Santa)isn’t real, is he?
-Duh, of course he’s not real. We don’t have such a guy. And this was Saint Nicholas, he’s absolutely real – I have even touched his golden sleeve.
-Woah! You mean it?
-Sure, how could you think I don’t! Everything’s real here. ;)
-Does Saint Nicholas have reindeers?
-He has! But they had to stay in the North – where it’s always very cold, because they have fur so thick that it’s way too hot for them in Ukraine. But one year it must be just as cold as in the North, so Saint Nicholas will take his reindeers with him.

The girl’s face beams with a broad grin as she takes off her boots – the Saint has picked the right size and color for her.

On our way back home we’re thoughtful and quiet. Yes, it’s truly great to organize a holiday for children, show them a performance, give presents, play with them, tell funny things to make them happier (and amuse ourselves just as well). On the other hand, we’ll come home where our moms and dads live, we’ll see our own brothers and sisters, whilst most of these kids have only themselves and “Miss “Teacher”. You hurt for them, because you’re powerless and helpless. You just can’t do anything…So, may Saint Nicholas’ miracle happen and may these kids’ future turn out all right. We shall believe.

Anastasia Tiushka,
MRS volunteer.