Monthly Archives: March 2009

Day of the Angel Party

Twice per year Canadian Aid for Chernobyl, with the help of the Rotary Club, hosts a birthday party for children in the Chausy region who are deemed to be “invalid”.  Although this is a term seldom used in Canada, in Belarus it is used to encompass people with a wide range of problems.  Anything from diabetes to epilepsy or down syndrome to hydro-cephalia.

Today we celebrated all of the children in the program with birthdays in winter or spring.  It is a day to show these children that people care for them, that they are loved, important and significant in our eyes.  It started with a play to entertain the children called “The Spoiled Princess”, then there were games with prizes for everyone.  In this game the teams had to race around a slalom course with a ball between their knees.  Here a young boy shows his determination:

The Canadians are always included in the games and the children take great joy in showing us how it is done.  Here Neil Matheson, our CAC Guardian Angel Coordinator, tries his hands (or knees) at the race!

At one point they lined up a bunch of Canadians and handed them all instruments.  Of course they were very uncertain as to what to do with them.

They played recorded music and had our delegates pretend to play along while everyone danced!  Here Jeff Snider, Riley Shaw, Dan McKenzie and Rhona Dixon “wow” the children with their hidden talent!  The children laughed, clapped and danced with joy.

Before the children leave all those with winter and spring birthdays are called to the front to be given a gift in honour of their birthday.

There were tears of joy when this child made the journey unassisted for the first time, thanks to therapy made possible by this program.

Afterward, there was time for the Canadians to mingle with the children and their parents.  Lots of pictures were taken and hugs exchanged.

This little guy not only loved to get his picture taken, but decided he should take some too!  Here he is taking a picture of his Mom with one of our Fire Fighters while Kenny Sine and Jeff Snider look on.

This party is always one of the great highlights of the delegates trip and this year was certainly not disappointing.  Everyone left feeling uplifted … the children with gifts and love and the delegates with gifts of love!

Eric McKenzie

Best Clothes, Beds & Books

We had a bit of a mixed bag today.  While we continued to have people stop in to pick up parcels as well as deliver many more, we also did some more organizing and preparing for the next few days.  Our Firefighter volunteers stopped in on their way to Mogilev to meet with the head of the provincial fire departments.  They dressed for the occasion and presented me with a perfect photo op!

From left to right, Kenny Sine, Tim Lidlow, Jann Smith (CAC Board Member), Jeff Snider and Paul Asmis.  These guys are doing an amazing job developing contacts and making friends within the fire fighting community here.

Today while a family was in picking up their packages, Rhona Dixon noticed that the two children needed new coats.  She had packed a few in her suitcase and pulled them out for a fitting.  Judging by the smiles they seemed to fit the bill.  Here she is with the two kids and Marina Ladyjhenko, one of our interpreters.

In preparation for a delivery on Wednesday to a family with 32 children (yes, some are adopted) we assembled 10 beds that had been purchased from an orphanage in Northern Belarus.  The Chausy Orphanage let us use a room and their tools to get the job done.  Here, Dan McKenzie and Jon Schuler are helped by Vitalli, one of the children at the orphanage.  He and another boy, Pasha, were a big help not only building them but also loading the truck when we were finished.

Four public schools back home have raised funds through a reading program to buy books for four orphanages.  The books have been purchased in Minsk and several of the delegates spent a couple of hours sticking book plates in the front covers.  The book plates have both the Canadian and Belarussian flags, a message which says “Together we grow in friendship and knowledge” in both English and Russian, as well as the name of the school that raised the funds.  The four schools are: Lyn Public School, Front of Yonge, Commonwealth PS and Maple Ridge PS.

Here Riley Shaw and Jon Schuler finish packing the books back in the boxes after the book plates have been inserted.

Tomorrow morning is the Day of the Angel party.  This is a real treat for both the children and the delegates, so check back for an update and pictures!

Eric McKenzie

Guardian Angel Families Pick Up Packages

Today we continued to sort boxes in the gym while most of the families in the Guardian Angel Program came by to pick up the food boxes and personal boxes sent to them by their Canadian Sponsors. This is a very enjoyable day as we get to see many familiar faces and lots of children who have grown and matured in the past year. Here, Cathy Boone, one of our delegates holds a new baby (don’t worry Byron, he doesn’t have a visa!).

This is Neil Matheson our coordinator for the Guardian Angel Program with Irina Denisyenko who heads up this intiative in Belarus. She is a wonderful woman who cares for all of the families in the program. It is amazing how much this one woman can accomplish!

Irina got on the phone and soon the families started to arrive. We had a constant line-up all afternoon:

This kept the rest of us delegates hopping to keep up finding the correct boxes for each family.

This boy has been to Brockville in the past and he was very pleased to receive a bicycle this year. He never stopped smiling from the moment he first saw it!

We are hoping that tomorrow more aid will be released from Customs Bond so we can really start to clear out the gym.