January 23, 2013 | 2 Comments
by Kate Nelson Ward
…I lived in Karaganda. For those unfamiliar with Kazakhstan, Karaganda is the fourth largest city in Kazakhstan located about 200 kilometers south of the capital, Astana. I worked there as a volunteer English teacher with a group of other Americans. My roommate at the time was a wonderful woman from Maine named, Carrie. While I left Karaganda after about a year, Carrie returned and has lived in Kazakhstan (mostly Karaganda) for the past seven years.
Several years ago, Carrie began volunteering at one of the baby homes in Karaganda. I loved hearing her stories and seeing pictures of her time with the children. One such story came my way in the summer of 2010. Carrie met a woman named Cindy Kaplan, who was in Karaganda to adopt her daughter. Cindy had recently founded a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the nutritional status of children living in Kazakhstan’s baby homes. And in fact, they had begun their work by introducing a new menu and multivitamins to several baby homes, including those in Karaganda.
Anyone who meets Cindy can’t help but be inspired. At that point, I hadn’t met Cindy and I was inspired! Carrie recently told me that during that summer, Cindy said something to her that forever changed her perspective on how she views her time at the baby house:
Many of these children live lives void of a stable, loving adult figure. Any eye contact, touch, play, affection and interaction can make a world of difference.
Carrie continues to visit the baby house every week with this in mind. She pours love onto these kids and has built rapport with the caregivers. She has inspired countless people in the US to send cloth diapers, toys, and winter clothes for these children (myself included).
At SPOON Foundation, we recognize that nutrition and feeding are just a piece of the puzzle in terms of healthy social, emotional, cognitive and physical development in orphaned children. And so, we are so thankful for people like Carrie who are doing their part to make a difference.
I’m so excited to spend the next few days in Karaganda with Carrie and visit the baby home this week.