LNHS student wants orphans to have different experience than her

Aly Horton’s time spent in an orphanage inspires her to improve the quality of current orphans’ day-to-day life.

Horton (right) with her sister in their early years

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Horton (right) with her sister in their early years

Ever since Aly Horton learned what it felt like to endure the repetitive routine of a Russian orphanage that didn’t include many fun activities, she has had a heart to go back to her roots and start one herself.

Horton lived in an orphanage in Bryansk, Russia until she was 6 years old when she was adopted along with her sister by her parents Mark and Diane Horton.  Having personally experienced the hardship, Horton wants to do something to make life more enjoyable for those still in orphanages.

“I have a heart for those still in orphanages and I want to do something about it and make it the best for them,” said Horton.  

Horton was lucky since she had her one year older sister, Veronika, with her during their time.  Many of the orphans didn’t have family with them and were even more on their own.

“(Veronika) was like my mom growing up,” said Horton.  “She always supported me and and looked at the bright side when I was sad.”

The cleaning lady at Horton’s orphanage befriended her and her sister, which also helped her get through it.  At night the cleaning lady picked two people to help her and the Horton sisters were often the chosen two.

“She gave us candy and we talked a lot,” said Horton.  “She was like our grandma.”

Looking back, Horton realizes that the worst part of being in an orphanage was the daily routine that never changed, even though she had her sister and the cleaning lady that kept things different.

Everyday consisted of going to school and cleaning, varying from dusting, sweeping, washing the floors and putting all the toys away.

Watching the children who didn’t have anything to make their days different and experiencing it herself made Horton want to change how life feels as an orphan.

“I think I would do more activities and each day have something different to do as a group,” said Horton.

Horton discovered the compassion in her heart through her love of animals in Russia and the U.S.  While in Russia, Horton and her sister had a dog and two kittens.

“They were like our friends,” said Horton. “It’s kind of sad, but we would always play with them outside because we didn’t really have anything else to do, so they became our companions.”

When Horton came to the U.S., her family had a dog that they easily loved.

“The first year she would switch off sleeping with my sister and then with me and it made us feel protected,” said Horton.

Horton’s compassion started with animals when she was young, but led to her love for people as she grew older and looked back on her experience in Russia.  Animals are just like people, said Horton.

“I pass on the love that I give to my dog to other people,” said Horton.

Horton also has compassion for all age groups of kids and would want to have a wide range at her orphanage.  By having wider age ranges, that also keeps it more exciting for the orphans, said Horton.

“I would have a big one if I wanted to fit all of the kids,” said Horton.

Between Horton’s personal experience and caring heart, she has a lot of motivation to go back to Russia someday and make a difference for kids who are in the same spot she was ten years ago.

“I know the kids just want the best life possible,” said Horton.