Yesterday, I saw a most amazing thing happen here in Ukraine.
One of our favorite kids here at the orphanage – Mischa – was hanging out, making some bracelets with one of the other kids. I just happened to be in the room, working on an email.
Mischa speaks no English at all, but for some reason, communication is not a big deal. He has helped us completely with this building project, and has even started attending some of our group’s meetings. As far as I know, Mischa, unlike many of the kids here, has nowhere to go for the weekends, so either he has no family – or his family is so bad he chooses not to go. Mischa has had the chance to be adopted twice, however he has turned it down, as he knows his little brother will be entering this orphanage next year, and he wants to be there to protect him.
We have a community snack area in a little “café” that they have built for the kids. Throughout the day, we’ll leave food out for everyone to share. Mischa had a very nice chocolate bar that he had added to the snack collection. But it was wrapped, and no one had opened it.
Carol, one of the wonderful people we are working with here, wanted chocolate. And wanted it badly. After a while, she opened the bar and had some – putting it on the counter. When she realized that it was Mischa’s – she assumed that it was not to share and proceeded to drive all around this little Ukrainian village where we are staying in search of a replacement candy bar. Which, she couldn’t find.
So she came in the room with Oksana, one of our English speaking friends here, and proceeded to apologize to Mischa. Mischa didn’t quite know how to respond. He kept saying that it was no big deal, but it was obvious that he really didn’t understand what Carol was doing. She finally made him look her in the eyes as she said “I took your candy bar and it was wrong. I’m sorry.” He smiled, but I really think that was simply because he’s Mischa.
I followed Carol and Oksana out of the room to say that I thought it was a really interesting exchange, but Oksana just simply said “I don’t think he’s ever been apologized to by an adult before.”
And I couldn’t imagine it. This kid is 18 years old. He has been nothing but helpful and kind and just straight up fun to be around. He’s become a part of our little family here, and to think that he’s probably never had someone older tell him that they were wrong I just can’t fathom. No one has respected him enough to say to him that his opinion mattered. That he had a voice. And that he was right.
It was a candy bar, and he was planning to share it anyway. But that’s not the point. Hopefully our little crew has been able to not only befriend some of these kids, but that they will know that we genuinely love them, care about them, and believe that they have a voice – an opinion – a face – and have a true purpose in this world.