We met Vitalik back on a partner visit in 2009 to Kameshkevo Orphanage. Vitalik had only been at the orphanage for a short time, maybe two or three weeks. He was a “true orphan” in the sense of having recently lost his mom to cancer and not knowing who his father was. His mom had been a well-to-do business woman and he was essentially an only child, with a much older brother who no longer lived in the home. Vitalik was not used to lots of children being around him, and the adjustment to orphanage life was very difficult for him.
He instantly tugged at my heart, and I knew that we were to sponsor him. Although he was reluctant to participate in any activities, we did our best to connect with him and show him how much we cared. I wrote Vitalik a letter that first year and asked him to write me back, but he just looked at the paper and didn’t write a word. As the years progressed, I faithfully wrote Vitalik but never received a letter back.
During our orphanage visits, I would ask him to write but it just never happened. I knew he was one of the children who may not be a writer. Despite not hearing from him between visits, he would welcome us warmly and our relationship grew over the years. He graduated in 2016 and we didn’t hear from him or see him for two years, in spite of inviting him to grad activities during our visits.
Earlier this year in 2019, I again reached out via Natasha (the orphanage discipler) to see if she would invite him to come see us and he did! Vitalik was about 12 when I met him and a “regular-sized” boy. I was surprised while at the orphanage to see a very large man run up the orphanage stairs and pick me up and twirl me around with great enthusiasm. It was Vitalik!
Vitalik is now what I would describe as a gentle giant! He is a very big man with a huge, tender heart. Although he never wrote me letters, we picked back up right where we left off and he started asking me questions about things I had written him about over the years as intimately as a close friend would be questioning me about work and day to day details of my life.
He remembered it all! He had read my letters! It was a special moment and he spent several days with us while at the orphanage. Before he left, he came to me and said he had written me a letter on his phone! He had written and translated it via Google Translate. He wrote me a letter! Vitalik will always remain in my and our family’s hearts. I hope that our relationship will continue for many more years.
The letters that sponsors write to their friends overseas have a deep impact. Even if you are a sponsor and have not yet received a letter back, please know that your letters may be doing some important behind the scenes encouragement in your sponsored child’s life. Click the button below and write a letter today!