“The orphanage was located in the middle of the Russian forest, there was one main road nearby, a train track and nothing else. In the wintertime, our clothes and beds would be wet and damp all the time, the conditions inside the old orphanage blocks were so bad that at some point they decided to just demolish them, and they moved us to the main building block. I will never forget in the summer of 2001, me and my friends were using the remains from the demolished block to build a summer house between three trees, in the nearby forest. It was slowly becoming our dream house, we even built windows in…One day while we were working on it, we heard someone shouting ‘CONVOY!!! CONVOY!!! CONVOY!!!’ We had heard that a truck will come from Ireland with all sorts of donations so we were excited and talking about it for weeks before… Can you imagine, 150 children dropped whatever they were doing and ran as fast as they could to the gates of the orphanage… We had never seen a truck before. The driver honked the horn and we were just staring at it, jaws dropped, in front of this huge monster… Soon enough were all running around the truck trying to figure it out and being amazed by the sheer size of the wheels. The driver was crazy about us we treated him like he was Santa or some kind of angel. It took us three days to carry in and organise everything! The truck was filled with sweets, clothes, toys, toiletries… Imagine that was the first time we tasted chocolate or peanut-butter or toothpaste! I remember that I didn’t like the taste of the toothpaste that much, I just got more chocolate. There was a big box of clothes for everyone, organised by sizes; shoes, coats, hats, gloves, socks, things that most of us never had before. Suddenly everything in the orphanage changed, nobody was hungry, we all had clothes and everyone was happy.”
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