I guess the important work we did was to improve the building which houses the boarding students. The school is for handicapped children and we were there during their vacation. A long three story building, with many unusable rooms and "dorm" rooms on the top two floors where we stayed, beds for maybe 40 students. My room was on the top floor, with a view of the railroad tracks and town and far-away snowy Mt. Albertis (250 miles away.) Above the treetops, swallows constantly swooped looking for the mosquitoes that came into our screenless windows. Living rooms in the center had been redone several years before, again by our VIM.
The dining room and kitchen wing was clean and airy, panel-covered walls were completed by our team and furnished with tables and stools. For the summer school there were long tables and long lace curtains hung from the windows. We went thru a long hall, with a fairy-tale mural (painted by last year's team) and all kinds of potted plants. The rest of the hall was dark, with locked classroom doors on both sides. Some rooms had been renovated and were used for classes and those were the ones we worked on. We scraped old paint, repainted/wallpapered, installed linoleum in sheets. One room was used for sewing, one for dancing, two large ones for a gym, one for speech therapy. Very dreary, stairs unpleasant, but all cleaned often with the housekeepers on hands and knees.
I wondered how the rooms were chosen for cleaning because there are many unused. A crack outside, from top to bottom, came either from a small earthquake or excavation and one wing leaned a bit from the other.
The playground has limited equipment again from our VIM, with hardpacked earth. The children like to play soccer and "wawleybawl" and anything else that got our attention. All surrounded by a fence that marked our boundaries which we were told to stay inside. We were told that city authorities are happy that we're "helping their children." I wondered how this Russian Initiative worked in the beginning, how the building was chosen for a school, how the children keep warm in the old old building, if there are kids with physical problems how they traverse the stairs, how they live in the dark building in the winter.
It was a wonderful venture into another culture, and something to be grateful for. We had opportunities to spread God's love every day and left evidences for the children to see when they returned to their school building. The VIM will endure, there will be other trips, other chances. And I wouldn't have missed it!