Operation Christmas Child supporter Jo Fox from Abbey Meads spent a week in the Crimea region of Ukraine in January, distributing goodie-filled shoeboxes and meeting some of their recipients in a number of remote villages.
Having been involved with the charity for 15 years, this was the first time she’d seen the shoeboxes handed out. She said: “The children were very grateful for the boxes, though it was quite hard to get them to smile. I don’t think they are very demonstrative people.”
The depravation in the area is a result of the previous communist regime, and although there are new amenities such as the children’s hospital in the capital Simferopol, the equipment is extremely basic. “Their sterilising equipment consisted of a couple of saucepans,” said Jo.
At one orphanage Jo met an 11 year old girl who had lost both her parents last year to cirrhosis of the liver. Vodka consumption in the population of Ukraine is extremely high. Jo said: “It was very hard to leave her.”
Jo belongs to North Swindon Baptist Church and runs craft groups to create gifts to put in the boxes. “We have one lady who knits gloves and scarves, and youngsters who make friendship bracelets. People can get involved at any level, either filling a box themselves or making things to go into the boxes. It’s quite nice to sit and knit together and know the items are going to children who appreciate them.”
To join a group mail Jo at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Start planning for the Operation Christmas Child shoe box collection next November. Mail Jo for details or see:
Jo Fox with Nadia 12, Alyona 13, Karina 13, and Sveta 13, who have been fostered by the couple who originally ran the orphanage and on retiring decided to give them a stable home