Today we unloaded the last two containers, one container into several locations in Chausy and my team unloaded ours at the Orphanage for Girls in Mogilev, two stops in Chausy and then drove approximately 150 km to unload the rest at the Orpanage in Kostukovichi. My team had the privilege of unloading Canadian Aid for Chernobyl’s 100th container! We had marked the container in Brockville when we loaded it.
This was an exciting milestone for everyone. Here, Misha, one of our drivers and host of Randy Colpitts for seven years, poses with the 100th!
It was exciting for him as well, as he and the other drivers have become a critical part of our delivery chain. They not only pick us up and drop us off where we need to be but they participate in the unloading and delivery of the aid at all locations. Misha is one of the hardest working members of the team.
At the end of this trip, and since 1998, Canadian Aid for Chernobyl will have delivered 101 forty foot containers, 1 ambulance and two firetrucks benefiting 27 orphanages, senior homes, hospitals and over 1500 families totalling in excess of $28 million in aid. Putting Canadian Aid for Chernobyl in the top 3 organizations providing humanitarian relief in the Republic of Belarus.
Included in this number are the reconstruction projects like the bathrooms at several orphanages. At Kostukovichi we were able to see the before and after examples as 3 of 11 bathroom blocks still need to be completed. Here are the bathrooms that have not yet been completed.
This is where the children bathe.
Here is a new toilet.
Here are the new sinks and bathing tubs.
After unloading the container with lots of help from the students and staff we presented the next graduating class with quilts hand made by the 1000 Islands Quilt Guild in Brockville. Each quilt is unique and has a label in Russian explaining that it has been made with love especially for them.
Afterwards the delegates were fed an enjoyable lunch and talked with the Orphanage Director, Valeri, about the impact on the children as well as his hopes and plans for the future.
Valeri is a very dedicated director who has the best interests of the children at the top of his plans. He discussed the importance of the children travelling to stay with families for respite. He explained that although the orphanage can do a lot for the children there is nothing that can replace the experience of being immersed in a loving family home to give these children a guide to model their future. Valeri himself takes an orphan into his home every summer!
We were given a tour of the facility and were shown examples of the many crafts and activities that the children participate in. They have particularly talented staff in the wood carving and sewing departments. Here are some examples of the childrens work.
As we drove back to Chausy, after dark, through a zone evacuated due to high levels of radiation and free of cell phone service, the van with our nine team members was unusually quiet. We were all tired, but I for one was thinking about those 150 children. We will continue to do everything we can to make their lives more comfortable and enjoyable. Valeri will continue to develop, train, advise and guide them. But who will take them into their homes and teach them that families love?