Last year we discovered a family in Klichyev who have taken in multiple foster children. Since then Neil Matheson visited again last fall and this past week we dropped off 36 boxes of everything from toys and clothing to food and health care products. Neil has written up a blog for you and included photographs. Here it is:
This is how Neil was greeted when he knocked on Rita’s door:
Sasha opens the door!
I have made some amazing discoveries in Belarus, none, however, greater than meeting Rita Kuntikova of Klichyev. Rita lives in a larger than normal home that she and her husband, Sergei bought together and over the years have extended as their needs increased. She and her husband have had four children through the normal process and have taken in twenty-four others. They now are a family of thirty. They ARE a family! She tells me with excitement that they are soon to receive another child. Her children have talked her into it. The little one needs a home. How very fortunate for this little one.
I asked her to name her children and tell me their ages. She did so without hesitation, telling me details on each one like their birthdays, what they were talented in, and where they were in school. With each there was a beautiful chuckle as she spoke of things she loved about that child and a huge sense of pride in what they were accomplishing. Some artistically, some scholastically, some compassionately, and some professionally all of them special and loved as precious individuals. This is a home where books and reading almost make the TV redundant. Six of their children have either completed or are currently enrolled in post-secondary education.
Rita Kuntikova (47) mother
Sergei Kuntikov (50) father
– 26 Yegor – boy
– 25 Zahar – boy
– 25 Misha (Mikhail) – boy
– 24 Lena (Yelyeana) – girl
– 24 Katya (Yekaterina) – girl
– 23 Olga – girl
– 22 Nastya (Anastasia) – girl
– 20 Dasha – girl
– 20 Natasha ( Natalia)- girl
– 20 Sasha (Alexander) – boy
– 20 Mikas (Mikhail) – boy
– 19 Misha(Mikhail) – boy
– 18 Nadya(Nadyezhda) – girl
– 15 Tanya (Tetyana) – girl
– 15 Matvey – boy
– 15 Valiera (Valieri) – boy
– 14 Oksana – girl
– 13 Masha (Maria) – girl
– 13 Yulya – girl
– 13 Kolya (Nikolai) – boy
– 12 Alla – girl
– 12 Zhenya (Yevgyeni) – boy
– 11 Nadya (Nadyezhda) – girl
– 7 Vladik (Vladislav) – boy
– 4 Volodya (Vladimir) – boy
– 3 Sasha (Aleksandr) – boy
– 2 Nastya (Anastasia) – girl
– 2 Katya (Yekaterina) – girl
– 2 Misha Mini (Mikhail) – boy
For the children fostered by Rita she is given approximately $75 US/month. This is to cover all costs: clothing, food, transportation, heat, housing repairs, etc, etc.. When I asked about fruit for the children and wondered how often they would have something like a banana her response was that bananas would be much too expensive but they try to get local apples as often as possible. Food items like bread and cheese were considered a luxury. Each meal requires 3KG of buckwheat or rice to feed a “portion” to each member of the family. Life is tight financially BUT love is abundant. There is more joy in this home than any other I’ve seen in this country.
Rita models everything that is wonderful about life and her children emulate their mother. Older children, both boys and girls, cook, carry, care for, clothe, kiss, and cuddle the little ones constantly. Each visit I’ve had here shows me the Rita method of motherhood and it works! Joy, laughter and happiness is abundant. These truly are the necessities of life – not financial wealth.
Do they need help? They most certainly do, however, there is a great treasure received in every visit made to this home and I am so very grateful for having received such a gift and made such friends. We can all help here!
EXTREME MAKEOVER, Home Edition … hey Ty, it’s available.
Here is Neil with Rita and her husband Sergei and the 18 children who were home when the picture was taken. There are 20 living here full time and 6 more who return on weekends.
Misha_Mini would not let go of this doll from the moment he picked it out of the toys.
This is Nastia and Misha-Mini looking at a picture of Neil’s Uncle Jack from Manitoba who gave them quilts for their beds.
Can you see the love in this big sisters eyes? Learned behaviour from a wonderful Mom!
This Duplo Castle was built between the day the boxes were dropped off and Neil’s arrival one day later!
This evening we attended a concert put on in our honour at the Mogelev Orphanage for girls. As I have previously mentioned this orphanage is for gifted girls. It is a pilot project where the children live at the orphanage but attend regular schools in the community. In fact the orphanage itself is surraounded by apartments so that the girls are part of the community. Here are some of the girls performing a dance:
Here are some of the younger girls performing a song for us:
This is a traditional Belarussian dance being performed in costume:
We also had a tour of the orphange to show us some of the children’s handiwork:
This tree was all made by hand using small beads. It was really amazing!
Here is one of the bedrooms for 12 girls:
Here is a group of the girls that live in this room:
The concert was very entertaining and the girls really showed pride in their abilities. We will be providing more equipment to this facility this year in order for them to continue to develop their talents.