Last Friday I left the house just before 7 a.m. and returned at 3:30. At least 5 of those 8. 5 hours were spent sitting on the hard seats of transport buses with strangers, bumping along potholed streets, and wishing I had brought my Kindle. But, the day wasn’t about me.
It was about 7 kids who “graduated” from the 9th grade in a boarding school in Chapayevk. These 7 kids used to live in the boarding school near the CrossRoads office in Samara. (See my previous post, “There’s something about their eyes” here. ) When the school closed, they were sent to this small city about an hour or so away by bus. Their individual stories are heart-breakers. One boy has parents who are divorced and remarried with new families. They never come to see him. Neither step-parent wants him. One girl has an aunt, but the girl was too difficult to manage, so she relinquished her to the system. Another boy has an older sister, but she didn’t make it to his graduation, although she promised to come.
But we came. I wish you all could have seen their faces light up when they saw Tanya step off the taxi bus. She taught this group CrossRoads lessons and Bible stories when they were 6th and 7th graders in Samara. After the school closed, she continued to stay in touch with them and visit them in Chapayevsk twice a year on holidays. She doesn’t feel it was much–but I know otherwise. I saw their faces, their eyes filled with joy and appreciation.
Someone made a difference in their lives.
From here, they will go to a technical school of some kind. For example – three of the guys will go to a cook’s school. Not a bad job, and always in demand. The govt will provide funds to rent a flat (but landlords often deceive these kids who aren’t ready to be on their own.)
We attended the one-hour ceremony and then spent only a few minutes giving our gifts to them as the school had a shashleek party planned for them. (It’s a nice boarding school, actually. Better than the one in Samara.) But I arrived home dead tired and, admittedly, wondering if the time was well spent.
Then I looked at this picture of Katya. Her eyes and face at peace. Maybe even a little optimism there. Do you see her scars? She tried to escape the previous boarding school by jumping out the second story window. Her life was spared. She matters to God and to us. Somehow, she knows this. I have hope for her. I’m glad I went to Chapayevsk with Tanya to water these little seeds one more time.