Carol Johnson reflects on the KidsFirst Foundation’s 2006 Humanitarian Trip to Russia
Cheryl Cleveland and I traveled to Russia the week of September 2-8, 2006. We had a great trip. We traveled with Frank Foundation representatives to three different orphanages outside of Ekaterinburg, Russia.

We purchased school supplies from a supply store in Ekaterinburg and hired a truck driver to follow us three hours north of Ekaterinburg to Krasnouralsk. This was an orphanage of kids ages 4 - 15. The kids go to public school and needed school supplies. Backpacks, books, paper, pencils, markers, etc. were all in need and the kids had the truck unloaded in no time!

The orphanage staff were very kind and appreciative and they had prepared a nice tea/lunch for us.

The next day we traveled 1.5 hours east of Ekaterinburg to Bulanash. This also was an orphanage of older children ages 4-15.

The building was huge and has served as an orphanage for 40 years. The children live and go to school in the building so it is more like a boarding school. We met a lot of the staff, including the director, the home-education teacher, shop-class teacher, librarian, etc. The director was new at the job and she was so sweet, friendly, and appreciative.

Less than a mile from the orphanage was an appliance store where we purchased three washers, three refrigerators, one microwave, one stove, multiple irons and more. There were nearly a dozen teenage kids waiting for us to return. When we did, they helped us unload all the appliances. Then, they gave us a tour and served us a nice tea/lunch.

The following day, we drove 45 minutes west to Pervouralsk. This was a baby orphanage with children up to age three. Cheryl and I traveled to Russia with six extra suitcases full of donations and most of the donations went to this orphanage.

The director and her staff unpacked the suitcases of blankets, bottles, ointments, clothes, boots when we arrived and were very grateful for these things. We also gave the director photographs of a KidsFirst family that adopted their child from this orphanage. This orphanage was in need of new windows so we walked around the building to look at the condition of the windows and then we gave them money to help buy new windows.

That same afternoon we met briefly with the Minister of Education over the Sverdlovsk region and gave them copies of the receipts from the three orphanages. His office had advised us as to which orphanages had the greatest need. That is why we went to the Krasnouralsk, Bulanash, and Pervouralsk.

He also said that out of all his responsibilities in overseeing the education system and the orphanages, that walking through the orphanages brings tears to his eyes. Cheryl and I felt privileged to deliver the donated goods and money for the windows on behalf of the many families who donated to KidsFirst Foundation. And when the opportunity arises in the future, we would encourage everyone to consider this journey.
Currently, more than one million children live in orphanages in the former Soviet Union. Only about 15,000 are adopted each year.
The KidsFirst Foundation has already made a difference in the lives of many children and families.