Sunday, November 1, 2009

Martinenko and Kalnmale foster families

PHOTODONATION: Santa Spilberga

Within the charity event ”The School Bag” and owing to Gatis, who provided us with a specious bus, me, my colleague Renate and a photographer Santa Spilberga went on an autumn trip around Latgale.
The aim was to visit several families, to bring some furniture, school supplies, a real mountain of charity clothing and food. The travelling route began from Riga to Preili, followed to Malta, after that to Vecokra, Andrupene Municipality, and finally in the late evening we reached Anna Verze foster family that was not far from Aglona.

This time the story will be about the foster family in Vecokra, where live 14 foster children.
When the bus drove into Martinenko’s house yard we were met by both hostesses – Regina, her daughter Kristine and little Anna Marija, but other children were at school or nursery school. All items we brought were put in the room and Anna Marija invited us to the kitchen. Speaking frankly we were tired after such a long journey, that’s why a cup of coffee and hotly baked yeast pancakes with sour plum jam was the very thing we needed.
I was confused by the fact that in the house which was quite a large one (some time ago there was supposed to be a guest house) live 17 children! It turned out that Kristine had three charming daughters and 6 foster children as well! Kristine seemed to be very young and I was really impressed by the fact that such a young woman is devoted to the children, moreover to the fostered children.
Meanwhile both hostesses had fun and looking at my surprised face, told about their daily routine in a relaxed and easy manner as if there were one or two children and definitely not seventeen ones!
Despite many hardships and constant shortage of means for subsistence both women talk and smile as crying won’t help much, but working will!
Their children come from Jelgava and Preili and from nearby Daugavpils. Only a year ago they all lived in Daugavpils. People are merciless and to protect the children from rumours like “Those are from orphanage” large family decided to move.
That was all to good because here in the countryside children have another life, plenty more space to run around, ride their bikes or go fishing in the lake. They have tended a small garden, constructed a greenhouse. I asked weather it was possible to get enough food, to wash their clothes and both hostesses replied that older children take care of the younger ones, eldest girls often prepare themselves and everyone tidies the room him/herself. It is not that difficult!!!
(I, for instance, have difficulties with my own two daughters :)) )
Now the school in Andrupene can exist entirely because of this family as 11 foster children go there. Each municipality pays children benefit separately. It could well be 120 Ls and it can be 27 Ls only; it depends on every local municipality. Dinner is free of charge for Form 1 pupils, others pay at least 0.50 Ls a day, although there’s been a large sum altogether.
It was afternoon and children went home. One after another children of different age poured in the kitchen like little peas from a pea pod. They greeted us smilingly and said their names, but, alas, nobody could remember them at once. Children wished to show their rooms, where they live in two or in three. Each room has its own design and children take care of them on their own. They showed us around joyfully giggling, told us stories and nice adventures from their life. Children told us about their day-to-day tasks and bantered each other a bit about the marks at school.
Although many of those children have parents, they refer to Regina and Kristine as “mum”. There is a complete feeling that everyone there is treated well with loving care, hearing soft words and altogether they are large, friendly family.
Children try to do well at school, take part in local competitions and concerts, are willing to participate in different events, especially charity ones; they sing and perform plays. During the last Easter they have coloured 500 (!) eggs and prepared a nice evening for people from a local old people’s home. At Christmas they spent their money and bought sweets to give some nice treats to elderly people. Nothing else can bring greater joy but to see tears of happiness in pensioners’ eyes.
There could be written more and more about this family. There’s been so nice and cosy to stay that we do not want go back. It is great that there are such people, families that are not afraid of facing difficulties with living or with not having enough for everything one can wish; they just live and do it to give their love and warmth to the children that are missing it most of all.
To answer the question about what they would wish to have, instead of writing a list on 3 pages, they shyly look at each other, shrug their shoulders saying that there is nothing they need – they have everything.

Still there are some things they are dreaming about:

- visiting “Livu Aquapark”
- visiting Rundale Palace
- cosmetics for girls
- Lego set for boys
- An illustrated Bible
- Urgent renovation of their kitchen and other rooms as well

Let’s help the children spend a day at “Livu Aquapark”!

You have a chance to help
Call 9 000 68 88
and donate 1 Ls

Huge thanks to the angels of the foster families:
0ur photographers
Jūlija Stefanoviča - LVL 10,- (09.10.09.)
BT LINGVA IK - LVL 30,- (21.09.10.)

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