Monthly Archives: March 2008

Social Services Deliveries

Most of the delegates are out today making deliveries to social services families. These are the food boxes that people buy that are not allocated to specific families. We give the local social services department the number of boxes and they pick the most needy recipients. They also accompany us on all deliveries to get a signature as well as passport information for their records. These can be both the best and the most heartbreaking deliveries.

Before leaving on my first run, I stopped by the Chausy Orphanage with Rhona to drop off some insulin to a teacher there. His daughter is a diabetic and the medicine had been arranged for in Canada and we were making the delivery.

I snapped a couple of pictures of the new hockey rink at the orphanage. The writing is “HK” short for hockey and the name of their team, the “Meteors”.


Here is a shot with some of the kids practicing their rollerblading:

rink with kids

Inside the orphanage I found this beautiful paper Swan made by the students with little folded pieces of paper:

paper swan

Speaking of birds … there are lots of storks in Belarus. Everytime I see one it reminds me of the one that delivered Dumbo in the old Disney classic. Here is a picture of a real one:


Annis was with Alex and I today and she always has a large supply of suckers on hand to give out to the children:


We have also seen lot’s of people tapping Birtch trees for the sap. We tasted some today and it tastes pretty much like water with just the slightest hint of any flavour. They often add orange rinds to it to give it flavour:


We probably saw 30 or forty horses and wagons today .. here is a shot with both the horse and wagon and a modern tractor:

tractor horse

And here is a horse and wagon moving some of last years hay:


This next picture is of a farmer and one of his 4 children. His wife was in town working. He had rabbits, a cow & calf, goats, 2 horses (one about to give birth) along with the usual chickens and a large garden. He said it is the only way that he can get by and feed his family:


This next picture is of an 87 year old woman named Nina. She was so stooped over that her hands could touch the floor when she was standing as straight as she could. She has a daughter in Mogelev (approx 45 minute drive) who comes on weekends to prepare her meals and help look after her. She only wished that she could still walk and she asked us to pray that she would walk again. She was very thankful for the food box:

Marina and food box

This last picture for today is a woman named Zhenya. She is 96 years old and blind and had no papers or passport. She was born in 1912 and during the revolution in 1917 the government took her fathers land for the collective farms. He disagreed with this new government and was sent to Siberia and he never returned. She lost both of her sisters in the second world war (Chausy was on the front for over 9 months and 1 in 3 citizens died). She married and had children but they have all since died. She is alone! Sometime ago she became very ill and fell down unconscious, eventually she awoke and eventually she got help and was taken to the hospital. In the meantime she had lost her sight due to the illness and it has never returned. Recently someone came into her house and stole her passport and papers. She said that she has been sitting at home waiting for death to come but it has not yet happened. She has a niece who lives down the road who comes to stoke her fire and help her out. Everyone was crying during this discussion and Marina, our interpreter was having a hard time translating. She thanked us over and over for the food and we all hugged her before we left. It is a moment I will never forget!


If you ever wondered if these food boxes make a difference … just remember Zhenya!


Mogelev Family Parcels

Before I get to Sunday’s deliveries a quick post-script for Saturday. We got to make a delivery to a family that a group at Shorewood Packaging supports. They are a wonderful family and the Mom (Valentina) is amazing. Her whole life is dedicated to taking care of her daughter Yeleana. Here is a picture of Valentina, Yeleana, Alex (my son), me and Yeleana’s neice Dasha.


Before leaving we had a tour of their backyard and discovered lot’s of animals there. There were rabbits:


baby rabbits:

Baby Rabbits

Goats that are used for milk for Yeleana:


and even a couple of cages of muskrats which apparently they eat as well:


On Sunday a group of us went to Mogelev to make deliveries to families directly sponsored by families in Canada. This was a pretty long day as we started at 8 AM and didn’t get home until 8:30 PM.

I snapped this picture af a little kid outside of an apartment building, his snowsuit was so big that I am sure it was 3 times as tall as was … pretty cute though:


Here are some boxes going into an apartment:


We could see that spring was in the air as the buds are coming out on the trees and the Tulips (I think they were Tulips) were starting to sprout:


Here is another box waiting for an address confirmation (they get heavy after a while):


We came upon a piano at one of our deliveries and Pat started playing a song on it, much to the amusement of the kids:


and although the piano was out of tune and a couple of keys did not work … it sounded pretty good. Then one of the children sat down and absolutely blew us away by beautifully playing a classical piece:

Boy on Piano

This boy had been practicing!

Outside of one apartment building someone had built a little doghouse:


Even though all of the snow has melted and the weather has been very nice (sorry Canada) there are still some pretty muddy roads. One of the vans got stuck the other day and had to wait for a farm tractor to pull them out. This one isn’t stuck … but the road was muddy:

muddy road

I took this picture of a water tower because I was impressed with how elaborate it was and how colourfully it had been painted:


Outside one of the apartments there were some boys playing soccer in a parking lot. When they heard us speaking English they came over and kept saying “Hello”! I gathered them together for a picture and had them all wave and shout “Hello”!

Mogelev boys

Another one of our deliveries was to Andre Lisov who had a kidney transplant a couple of years ago courtesy of the Don & Shirley Green of Brockville. They were so happy to see us and would not let us leave until we all had a piece of cake that his Mom had baked us:

Andre Lisov

Andre is on the right leaning against the doorframe. Andre’s Mom, like so many others, has started her plants for the garden:


Back home that evening after eating dinner, Alex (my son) and Sasha (our host Dad) played their usual game of “Cows and Bulls” it is a logic game that requires nothing more than a pen and piece of paper.


When he arrived Alex only won the odd game, but a week later he is winning almost as many as he loses!


Back in Belarus!

After a long journey which ended in missing luggage, I have arrived back in Chausy. As we were driving from Minsk to Chausy yesterday Dave called and said he was also on his way to Chausy … with 3 of our 6 containers to unload! So after 24 hours of travelling we met at School Number 1 to begin the unloading at 5:30 PM. It took us until 11 PM and we had lots of local help, but we managed to get all 3 unloaded. The third one was completey filled with tide donated by P&G and the gang was getting pretty tired by the end of it.

Unloading Container 3

Here are a few members of the chain gang:

chain gang

Some of the tide is in small 2 KG boxes, there are over 5,000 of them in this photo:

Sea of Tide

This morning when we returned to the school the first order of business was to get organized. this means sorting family parcels by location and putting boxes together in piles for individual families:

Organizing the Gym

Neil Matheson, who heads up the “Guardian Angel Program”, helps to organize his boxes by placing photos on the outside. It also acts as a reminder of all of the people that are being helped:


Although we put the Tide into the gym a large portion of it is destined for the Chausy Orphanage (3,700 actually). We would have delivered it directly there but Customs insisted it all go into the one location first. This morning Vitalli, the orphanage director, showed up with a lot of kids and utilized the “Hope for the Future” truck that was purchased by a consortium of North American truck companies led by Mark Seymour of Kriska Transport. Here is a shot of them loading the truck:


Here is a good picture of the truck. It is a nice Mercedes truck with an excellent “lift gate”:


Since the load was so heavy, we had to do two loads with the truck and the third was done using the tractor and wagon that was purchased for the orphanage last year through the fund raising efforts of Margaret and David Campbell of Ridgetown, Ontario:


On the school grounds is a memorial to local boys/men who died in the Afghanastan war in the 1980’s, this one struck me as he was only 19 years old … the same age as my oldest son who is here with me on this trip. It is also interesting to note that we currently have a lot of Canadians in Afghanastan right now!

War Hero

This is my first post for this years trip. Unfortunately the internet cafe will not be open again until Tuesday. In the meantime I will take pictures, make notes and post again Tuesday.


PS: For all family members of Canadians currently in Belarus – everyone is fine and working hard!