We spent the afternoon at a Russian orphanage that houses 40 children. We toured part of the building, including the small children's dorm. There were about 9 little ones sitting with little legs straight out on a sofa, dressed in their best on their very best behavior, not really excited about visitors. One small boy finally brought us a truck to share and we were told it was "his." Evidently those in neat order on the floor were for all to play with. We saw a small room with beds quite close together, no space between some, few decorations or personal belongings. Tour guide said that the children were not all orphans; some parents left them there because of finances and took them home frequently. The compound included a very old church and we saw no play yard, only a hardtop drive where some big kids were skateboarding and a little one pushing a doll stroller.
These same little children, crowned with animal hats, gave a play with songs and dialogue. Though the language was not understandable, the enthusiasm was, and the behavior perfect. We were served cookies and tea, and a lecture by the directors, and learned about the expenses and bureaucracy which governs them. The director is allowed $50 a year for clothing and equipment, everything neat and clean. The supplies that we brought with us were valued and needed.
We visited a vets' hospital, with ten bags of supplies. Touring the building, we saw clean and orderly rooms, all with lace curtains and potted flowers on the window sills, and plenty of attendants and doctors. We were told about electric, water and laser treatments and acupuncture. Activity where we toured was very slow. Lots of retired veterans were sitting around inside and in the quiet courtyard and they all were friendly and smiling. One elderly vet of WWII told of seeing Americans two times-the first was when they freed him from a German Prison Camp in 1945.
We traveled to the Social Services Children's Day Care and were told how the organization works and how they care for the children in the city. Children on their summer break were happy to meet and perform for us-they sang, played piano and enjoyed our visiting with them.