The adoption of orphans has become a local tradition in the village of Panfilovo in Vologda oblast. Several generations of the villagers have done so. In 2008 alone, the village became the new home of 22 orphans, as eleven local families adopted them. Foster-mother Galina Yevgeneva, who, by the way, has seven children of her own, said, “In our village, on our own, we decided to start a programme to help parentless children. We take them into our families; we give them warmth and love”. Another mother of a large family, Natalia Treshchalova, recently became a grandmother. Two charming granddaughters were added to her family of her three natural and four adopted children. Those two little girls were adopted by her daughter, Oksana Potemkina. Oksana said, as she was rocking her children to sleep, “My mom’s example was inspiring. I always wanted to do something good for children. I have compassion for them. When we learnt that these two kids were in hospital, our hearts went out to them. But, we think we can manage this”.
The villagers are fully aware of their responsibility for bring up the adopted children. A proof of this is the weekly meetings of foster-parents. Concerning this, Natalia Treshchalova said, “We gather not only to speak of our common problems, which are numerous, but, also, to resolve them by our common effort. I can’t say that raising adopted children is all sweetness and light. No. All of the kids have their problems. But, their problems are our problems”. Practically every adopted child has serious health problems of one sort or another. Some of them lag in their mental development or have psychological disorders; others suffer from early forms of scoliosis. Since the villagers are kind-hearted and closely-knit people, they usually resolve the difficulties of their adopted children through a common effort.
So, they collected money and bought a unique form of medicine… two horses. They were not meant to work in the fields, but, were purchased especially for hippotherapy sessions. The term “hippotherapy” stems from the Greek word “hippos”, which means “horse”. So, hippotherapy is a form of physical therapy involving horseback riding, and it is used in many countries. Galina Yevgeneva said, “Hippotherapy is most useful for your spine. Riding lets the backbone move around, and that helps to reduce inflammation and swelling. Hippotherapy sessions are also important lessons that teach the kids unselfishness. They are fond of the horses; they like to take care of them. In this way, they learn what thoughtfulness is and come to understand that they are responsible for domestic animals”. This year, in 2009, the villagers of Panfilovo expect to adopt 17 more orphans more from various orphanages in Vologda oblast. Shortly, this village will become their new home.
22 January 2009
Voice of Russia World Service