Kosa has been raising money for the Pysanka Orphanage for a year now. In January 2011, Bozena and Oksana finally had the opportunity to visit Sister Romana and the orphanage in Potelech, Ukraine. Here is our story…
Two Kosa members and our friends Marczyk and Ada decided to go to Ukraine for New Years and the Christmas Holidays (which are in January). We were eager to see the Pysanka orphanage that we had been raising money for. And so it was on a grey rainy day that we stood at a marshrutka stop awaiting the mini bus that we hoped would take us to Potelech. Almost three hours later, we got off, seeing the village from a distance… we made it! Since we got off the bus a bit too early, we started walking towards the big silver church that stood as our visible landmark of Potelech. We met Sister Romana along the main road coming to greet us.
We followed Sister, trying to avoid the puddles and mud as we made our way to the orphanage. The exterior of the building hadn’t changed since Bozena’s first visit in 2009, but the inside had undergone a complete transformation. Two years ago, there was only a shell of a building standing with bare bricks and piping sticking out of walls. Now, we walked into a warm and beautifully inviting place that instantly felt like a home. We were given slippers and led around to the completed furnished rooms where the children live: the bedrooms, the washrooms, the living room, the kitchen, and dining room.
The money that Sister Romana has raised and we have contributed to, along with Mike Rudzinski and Brett McCaw (in Chicago), has been put to good use. The part of the building intended for the orphaned children is finished and fully furnished. It is absolutely lovely. The girls have their own rooms, shared with siblings, and furnished with desks and everything they need. This is in stark contrast to boarding style conditions the children have come from. As Sister Romana showed us around the building she told us about the orphanage in nearby Rava Ruska that has over 200 children. The Sisters of St. Joseph are hoping to take in more girls into their foster home and give them a chance to live in a smaller and more nurturing environment.
Aside from this goal, the Sisters would still like to reach more children in the village and have them come to the Pysanka Home to attend nursery school. We were shown around the planned nursery school rooms and guests rooms that are still unfinished. Beautiful murals adorn the walls, painted by a fellow Sister in a religious folk style; one of the Holy Family, another of the personified Night blanketting the village of Potelech. We saw desks and furniture that has been donated by locals and sits in storage waiting for the rooms to be finished. Sister Romana hopes that more funds will make it to them soon and that the social projects she has in mind can start to be realized.
The best part of the visit was when all the children came home from school and we were able to finally meet them! After eating, the younger ones went to go get their photo albums and brought them to share with us. They overcame their shyness when they started to explain what their photos were all about and we had a great time hearing about their past experiences. We all had a good laugh about the attention they paid to Marchyk, the only male in the place, and an odd looking foreigner at that!
After taking some photos together for posterity we went for a short walk to see a beautiful historic church up on the hill- the oldest remaining wooden church in all of Galicia, with preserved frescoes on wood. After the tour, Sister Romana arranged a drive for us to Rava Rus’ka and we parted ways there as we boarded the bus to Lviv. It was unbelievable to think about the last time I had got on that bus and waved goodbye to Sister Romana and how much had happened since then… how much our lives had been changed by our encounter…