Dnipro Kids Update – October 2016 (Part 2)

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Update – Continued

The October Update is going to concentrate on the big September trip that was organised for the children from the orphanages. As there was so much done during the four-day trip we will be doing this update in three parts, to try and get as many amazing photos in as we can.

The report has been written by Ian McDonald, a long term child sponsor, who travelled to Ukraine to be involved in the trip. Ian is an Aberdeen supporter, who travelled to Dnipro in 2007 when Aberdeen were drawn against FC Dnipro. He was one of the main organisers in the Aberdeen support that replicated the Hibernian supporters trip to the Predniprovsk TB Sanatorium with gifts for the children, and has closely followed the work of Dnipro Kids ever since. Ian has often mentioned how he would like to re-visit the city and the new orphanages, and a change in his job situation meant that he was finally able to do this in September.


Written by Ian McDonald

Day 3
My third day in Dnipro saw me preparing for a train ride like no other I had ever had. I was told to bring snacks, as we would be on the train for 18 hours! So Steven, Duncan and I headed to the supermarket next to the apartment to stock up on essentials. Once we had decided that we had more than enough food and water to last for the entire journey we headed back to the apartment to get packed for the trip.

All six of the family orphanages had been invited on the trip, and we found them all congregated outside Dnipro train station excited to go.


Organised chaos ensued shortly afterwards though, as we tried to get around 80 adults and children squeezed into two carriages over the sleeper wagons. Once it was finally sorted we were able to settle down into our cabin, only for us to discover we had accidentally left half of our snacks in the apartment. So much for great planning!


The train journey itself was an excellent opportunity to get to know the kids. As we progressed on our train journey I found that the children started coming up to me and introducing themselves, which was great. After a couple of hours on the train word must have managed to get around the families about our mishap with the snacks we’d bought. One of the kids showed up with a collection of snacks for Steven, Duncan and I from the families. It was very good to see how everyone was already clubbing together to help out people in need, even if it was down to our own stupidity.


Come early evening the carriage we were in completed transformed itself from seating to sleeping. Drop down bunks were set up with mattresses and covers, and the lower seats primed ready for when the lights went out. It did, as you might expect, take a while for the kids to settle down…not least because Duncan decided to top them up with Irn Bru for this “must watch” video!


But eventually everyone was in their beds, and even managed a few hours sleep.


Day 4
This day actually started VERY early as we had to disembark the train at 03.50 before being transferred to two buses for the remainder of the journey.


We were then taken on a four-hour journey along some of the bumpiest roads I had ever been on, “typical Ukrainian roads” I was informed. Just after sunrise we arrived at an amazing viewpoint, so the bus drivers stopped for a few minutes for us to stretch our legs.


We arrived in Chernivitsi at around 8am. We were a little weary after our journey so the nice breakfast that awaited us was very welcome. After breakfast, we then jumped back on the buses and headed into the centre of Chernivitsi for a city tour. The city has a very European feel about it, and it was interesting to see how different it was Dnipro and Kiev.


For the tour of the city we were split into groups, with each group having their own guide. The guides were very informative and explained the history of the city, and the relevance and history of some of the more interesting buildings.


After the tour had finished we were taken to a local restaurant for lunch, where I was now starting to get a feel for the standard Ukrainian cuisine…and a new found love of Borscht soup.


After lunch it was back on the bus and heading to the famous University of Chernivitsi. The University itself was once used for the Bukovinian high priests, and it had a particularly memorably beautiful church within the buildings. The University site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Due to the amount of travelling the day before, it was felt that after the University tour we should head back to our hotel for an early night. So it was back on the buses and back to the hotel. Checking into our rooms was again a bit chaotic, given the numbers, but a large parrot in reception helped to keep the kids occupied. A nice supper was ready for us in the hotel restaurant, and then everyone settled down for an early night.

parrot-in-hotel supper
Day 5

On the second day in Chernivitsi we boarded the buses and set off for our first destination of the day. It was just under a two hour drive to get to our first stop, with another bumpy ride on the “typical” Ukrainian roads.


Upon arrival I couldn’t see any rivers, let alone any waterfall. We were told that we had to walk a little to the waterfall, which seemed plausible enough. Unfortunately, the “little” walk turned out to be a good mile or so down a VERY steep valley. As I was struggling with my footing on the way down, the only thing I kept worrying about was how I would manage to get back UP!!!

We eventually made it to the waterfall, which was stunning. All the kids were soon in the water and having a great time. Some just ventured in for a paddle, while the more adventurous of the group were dive-bombing and heading right into the main part of the waterfall.

waterfall swimming
I had brought along a change of clothes, but by the time I’d finished taking photos and was ready to get in the water it was time to go. Probably just as well, as I didn’t want to be scaring kids by taking my shirt off…


The walk back to the bus was every bit as tiring as I imagined it was going to be. The kids were obviously showing off, by waltzing past me, with some even running. They were certainly going to sleep well later at night!

We all managed it back in one piece, but as one of the last back it proved how severely unfit I am.


Once everyone got back to the bus, we were on the move again. The next stop was a café for some lunch, then onwards to our next destination, a set of caves that had been discovered by local archaeologists.


It was amazing to see the inside of the caves, which extended for miles, and to learn about how an earlier civilisation had actually lived underground for so many years.

cave-pottery cave-statues
The most amazing thing though, was that we didn’t lose any of the kids whilst underground!!!

Once the head count was completed, it was back on the bus and back to the hotel.

To be continued ….

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Many thanks,

Steven Carr

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