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The orphanage was quiet. All the babies and toddlers were napping. The older children were doing their studies. Down the hall came the distinct sound of skipping. The children were supposed to be in class. Everyone knew who would not be in class….Carlota!

The rebellious eight year old was a pretty girl, with long, dark curls. They delicately framed a cute pouty-round face. But Carlota had a problem, a big problem. She had an attitude like a boss! She thought she ran everyone and everything around her! She skipped out of class, literally, at least twice a week. She never did her homework and she bragged…a lot! This made her not so popular. But that was okay with her, was used to not having anyone in her corner.

Abandoned by her mother at the age of five, she remembers it like it was yesterday. One day she and her mother were taking a long walk through the Russian village they lived in. The next moment she was at the orphanage. The walls, made of stone, were cold as a Siberian night. But the people seemed warm. There was something different about them. The orphanage, in the town of Tatarsk was poor but rich in spirit. She thought her mother and she were there to visit someone. But after talking to the nice lady in the blue dress, Stanislava, her mother turned and walked out the door, without so much as a goodbye.

Carlota tried to run after her, but the counselors had a gentle, but firm, hold of her. She cried and screamed and cried until she could cry no more. The counselors gave her a moment then took her to the nursery. There was a little bed in the corner, by the window. “This is your bed,” the counselor quietly said. Carlota looked hopelessly at the drab color of the blankets, fell belly down into it and buried her tear-stained face into a smelly worn pillow. Then the lady in the blue dress came in.

She picked her up and spoke kindly to her as Carlota quietly sobbed. “Carlota, you are a precious, precious child. You may not know us here, but you will. You will see that this is a happy place and that we love you. Please do not be afraid.” She softly put her fingers under Carlota’s little chin, and tilted it up so she could look her directly in the eyes. The lady’s sparkly hazel eyes gently looked down at Carlota, “Chin up darling, everything will be alright. I promise! Do you want to see the playground?” Carlota nodded yes.

Carlota learned a lesson the day her mother left her; trust no one. Although she did not understand her feelings , experience had taught her well. Carlo