From July 9th till July 21, 2017 a group of 7 volunteers from the Netherlands charity organization WALO conducted their annual camp at two locations for about 70 disadvantaged children from the Ternopil Region. Usually these children are placed in state-run camps during the summer holidays with very few organized activities and often left to amuse themselves. However, for the past eight years, WALO in collaboration with Orphans’ Future, has been sending a team of volunteers who have improved the holiday time for these children by conducting activities that are not only fun but educational as well as aiming to improve the self-esteem of each child at the camp. This year the WALO team were grateful for the assistance of Orphans’ Future volunteers Volodia Yavorsky and Yuriy Koshil.
One of the first benefits provided by the visitors was enhancing mealtimes with such treats as jam, peanut butter, condensed milk and tomato sauce. Not all at the same time!
A variety of outdoor activities and games encouraged a healthy lifestyle as well as teaching the importance of teamwork and cooperation. Apart from ball games like tennis and hockey the WALO team had some innovative team games in which the children enthusiastically took part including a form of volleyball with a water balloon launched with a blanket as well as team relays involving several different parts such as going through hoops, sliding, sack jumping, and throwing a ball at a target. The evenly matched teams ensured that every child experienced some success in the different sports and had great fun. As with previous years, the soap slide was also hugely popular.
Our friends from Holland also gave the children an opportunity to develop their skills at different arts and crafts with pavement chalk art and learning to make their own decorated masks and multicolored bracelets. Some of the children became very skilled at this and made extra bracelets to give to their friends.
Evening activities included a disco which was a lot of fun with glow-light necklaces and there were some interesting performances of the ‘Macarena’ dance. There was also a type of bingo game in which every child got a prize. As always, with WALO, every child is a winner.
And on the last night there was the bonfire with the toasting of marshmallows on very long sticks which has become a WALO tradition. Every child also received a gift of their own ‘goody bag’ of small toys. Later some of the children discovered that the bags themselves could be used as kites.
Apart from the activities there were opportunities for the children to share some of their stories with their new friends, (with help from Orphans’ Future volunteers), with the added bonus of learning some Dutch and English.
Unfortunately the time for the WALO group to leave came all too soon and there were some tearful goodbyes from both the children and the volunteers with the children grateful for the wonderful holiday experiences provided by the WALO volunteers.
The WALO group as usual, donated all their sporting equipment to the camp for further use by the children, but their greatest gift was the boost given to the self-esteem of the children by the volunteers who treated each child as a valuable young person deserving of love and care.
Once again, well done WALO.
We offer you sincere thanks on behalf of Orphans’ Future and all the children.