It has taken a while to process this trip. For one thing the two most important events do not have any photo memories. In the various places I worked with children, confidentiality was a factor and no photos were allowed. Also during Russian Orthodox church services there was no photography. So those parts of the trip stay only in my mind and heart. Where they are vivid.
To say we worked in "orphanages" does not cover who we were really with although I guess it is the best description. We did one day at a Senior Center and one with disabled adults. But the bulk of my time was at a shelter for kids had just been removed from their homes due to dysfunctional families. The other days were at a locked down children’s psych ward and a boarding school for kids who were already parentless but the orphanages felt their behavior was so far out of bounds the orphanage could not handle them. They were all kids in tough situations and it is hard to imagine their future as anything but bleak. They were exceedingly well cared for as far as basic need went: clean, sheltered, fed, safe outdoor and indoor areas (albeit old and institutional), but the staff number for the number of kids was minimal. I’m sure somewhere there was counseling and medication, but in general we saw them in groups of up to 25 with only 1 or 2 monitors. In the careful professional way of staff that cannot get too involved, they were told what to do, but no contact was every made physically or emotionally. They longed for individual attention from someone for a few minutes and when it was given, could hardly stand to have it stop.