A Smile from the Ukraine

 

by geraldine donaher

 

openheartsandhomes.org (nonprofit agency connecting children with American host families)

 

Perhaps I should’ve gone to a more private spot for this interview. 18 year old V looks quickly around the public library and then smiles and clasps her hands on her lap. “Do you want to go somewhere else to talk?” I ask.

 

She glances up at me, then at the younger girl sitting a few feet away, and then back to me, “No, no, this fine.” She’s nervous, but tries to put me at ease with her beautiful smile. I look over at the other girl who is engrossed in a hardback novel, and then back to V, “If it’s too hard to talk here, then we’ll leave, OK?”

 

She smiles again and in broken English, “No, this fine. Really, this good.”

 

I take out my notes, and make a mental note to stop if she looks uncomfortable. For the past two years I’ve wanted to share her story and now, here we sit, ready to begin. I’m an adult, yet my nerves make me feel as if I’m a child in the presence of something sacred. I pull out my pen, take a deep breath, and ask, “Ok, you ready?” She nods her head and pushes back to get more comfortable in her chair.

 

This is V’s story of resilience. It starts in the Ukraine when at just 6 years of age she is placed in an orphanage. It took her ten years to arrive here in the Philadelphia area. I’m honored to share her story of family, survival, and dignity.

 

Click here to read my interview with V.

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