Canadian Aid for Chernobyl’s main focus is, and always has been, the children. Although this looks like the delegates trying their hand at “mega-blocks” actually the bottom fell out of a box that was about to be loaded.
Today was a very long day. We had a large load to go to a Psychiatric Hospital where a boy named Dima had been staying. Neil Matheson had been following him for about 3 years and had prepared 29 boxes of product to help Dima and other children in the hospital. This morning we found out that Dima had been moved to an Orphanage for the disabled (ages 4 – 26) in Glusk, located in the extreme south west corner of the province. Since we had some deliveries in Babrousk and Klischev in that direction we decided to do all of these locations in one run. We got the 2 vans loaded and were on the road just before noon. We did not get back to Chausy until midnight.
Babrousk was very similar to other cities in the region, many contrasts between older buildings and infra-structure mixed with a few new modern buildings. While stopped trying to find an address this gypsy woman approached the van. Our interpreter advised us to ignore her and the driver drove on. She wanted to tell our fortune, obviously for money. She was dressed very brightly and stood out amongst the other local people.
Although the closest McDonalds is about 2 hours away in Mogilev (Provincial Capitol) there seems to be a movement afoot in one neighbourhood to get one!
When we finally arrived at the orphanage in Glusk we were greeted by the Director who took us for a tour. We discovered that this orphanage is being assisted by a group from Ireland who have done and are doing wonderful things. The bathrooms have been updated and the inside completely renovated. They are currently working on replacing the windows and insulating and parging the outside. In this picture you can see part of the building being renovated.
When we visited a ward with young boys we were absolutely swarmed by children who wanted nothing more than to be hugged or picked up. It was very overwhelming! They loved having their pictures taken, especially if you showed them the results. We left our 29 boxes of product as we know it will be well used.
It was getting late and we had to make one more stop in the village of Kliechev which was 80 km out of our way. We were delivering boxes sent by a group from Quebec. We had some difficulty finding the house but eventually a boy from the house rode his bike out and met us so we could follow him back to the house. This turned out to be the most exciting delivery of the day. This woman took in orphans and currently had 26 children … that’s right 26! She had 4 of her own that have all moved away and 4 of her foster children are in University or College. That left 18 living in the house, from less than 1 year up to teenagers. This was obviously a loving home and there were plenty of books. The Mother said that the children work hard at their studies, and with several in University this must be true. One of the young teenagers has spent the last 8 summers in North Carolina and her english was very good. She explained that all of the children help with the younger ones as well as with the cleaning and cooking. These children all appeared happy and well taken care of. Recently her husband had fallen off of a roof and was in the Hospital. Along with the boxes from Quebec we slipped a little cash into the Mother’s pocket on the way out.
It doesn’t matter where you go in the world you will always find extraordinary people doing wonderful things and it’s nice when we can ride on their coat-tails!