Monthly Archives: April 2009

School Supplies and Farewell to Chausy!

Luckily for me the Vienna Airport has free high speed wireless internet.  This is allowing me to get one more blog out before getting home.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, a donor from New Zealand had made a donation to help with school supplies in one of the orphanages.  Today I was finally able to deliver that donation.  Here is a shot of some of the children from the Chausy Orphanage with some of the supplies that we purchased.  There are notebooks, pens, pencils, glue, rulers, scissors and geometry sets.  These supplies will really help the children with their studies!

Once this project was complete, it was time for Murray and me to say good bye to the kids for another year.  This is Murray’s 14th visit to Chausy!  There were lots of hugs and pictures.  Here is Murray with Anna:

Some more of the children seeing us off.

This is a shot of me witha a boy named Slava.

It was a beautiful day out and there was lots of activity in the yard.  The change in these children since the Canadians started coming is amazing.  Children that used to hide when a stranger showed up now run out to greet us.  It is also obvious that the programs at this orphanage have built self esteem and pride.  You can walk around the grounds and find children having fun and being kids.

Here is some two handed volleyball.

And there always seems to be a football game (soccer) being played:

This next picture is of Kristina.  She visited Brockville for the first time last summer and I am sure she has grown 6 inches since then!

Kristina is a promising biathlete who is now training to try out for the junior olympic team.  These dreams would not be possible without the help of CAC and our community!

This was the last day of my visit, but I promise to post more pictures and info over the next few weeks.

Eric McKenzie

Quilts, Books and a New Home!

This was my last full day in Chausy as tomorrow I head for Minsk after a final task or two.  While I was waiting for my driver to pick me up I took this picture of an apartment that is being constructed two doors down.  They seem to build a new one every year in this neighbourhood.  Like all the others this one wil be 5 stories high so as not to have to install and maintain elevators.  You can see School # 1 behind it with the red roof.

Murray and I went to the Chausy Orphanage today for a few last items on our list.  We were the lucky ones who got to present more of the quilts created by a group of Quilters in Brockville.  We let the children pick out their own as it means a lot to them to get to choose.  Here are some of the childen making their selections.

And here is a small group of the children with their new quilts.

We also were able to present the new books purchased for this orphanage by the schools in the “Reading for Excellence” program.  The money for these books is raised by children in 4 schools in Canada, Lyn Public School, Front of Yonge Public School, Commonwealth Public School and Maple Ridge Public School.  The children get sponsored for each book that they read in a prescribed amount of time.  It is amazing to me just how quickly the children get absorbed in the new books.  We simply spread them out on a table and they get pulled right in!  This is a wonderful program that allows these children to escape into worlds of fantasy and knowledge!  Here are a few pictures of the kids checking out the new books:

While we were there I had the opportunity to look at the plans for the “home” that I have been mentioning.  The building that is being renovated is in the background in this picture:

Here is a look at the outside of the new home, the top picture is oriented the same way as the picture above:

The entrance will be at the right end and the “deck” or porch at the other end will actually be a small stage that the children can use to old outdoor concerts.

This next picture is the layout of the main floor with the entrance at the left and the numbers on the drawing represent rooms as follows; 1=foyer, 2=kitchen, 3=dining room, 4=family room and 5 & 6=bathroom.

The upstairs will be one open bedroom.  This will be a place where the children will get to spend time learning how to live as a family.  They will have the opportunity to make a grocery list, buy groceries, plan and prepare meals as well as do laundry and relax.  These skills are really necessary for them to succeed in life after leaving the orphanage.  This project is being funded by the Malcomson family of Kanata.  The most exciting part is that construction starts tomorrow and will be complete by September!

Part of the Orphanage property has an old apple orchard.  Although it is not really productive anymore, they are not allowed to cut down the trees as they are on their inventory.  In order to expand the agriculture program they are tilling the land between the trees and will plant potatoes in this area.

The children were still hard at work removing stumps where the new orchard will go.

These two little guys were hard at it!

Our last duty today was to meet with Dr. Galena at the Chausy Hospital and interview the new children (and their Moms) for our summer respite program.  It is hard to imagine how hard it must be for a Mom to send her young child half way around the world for 6 weeks, of course they realize the health benefits and are willing to make this tough decision.  This little girl and her Mom posed for a picture that will be given to her host family in Canada.

We have one more important job to do tomorrow morning and that is to buy and deliver some school supplies to the orphanage.  We have a donor from New Zealand who has sent us some money through the website specifically for this purpose.  I promise to get pictures and try to post them before leaving tomorrow night, if I don’t get this done I will post as soon as I get home.

This has been an extremely successful trip and I promise to post more highlights over the coming weeks with some input from other members of the delegation.

Eric McKenzie

PS:  I can’t resist posting a picture of me with my two “buddies” at the Chausy Orphanage!

Mogilev Fire Department & Some Goodbye’s!

Today started with a trip to the Mogilev Fire Department where Paul Asmis, our last fire fighter, was continuing his training on the Canadian equipment.

When we arrived a group of new recruits were doing some training sessions on one of their older trucks.

Today they were putting the pumper through it’s paces by pumping through two hoses directly from a reservoir.  Here Paul is showing them how to set up the pumper:

The Belarussian Fire Fighters were very keen to learn and crowded round while one of them video taped the procedure.

I did not spend the whole day there, but Paul said that it went well.  Tomorrow the second truck arrives and he will be there to check it out prior to heading to Minsk to start his journey home.  There was a lot of effort that went into preparing and shipping the trucks and despite some complications in the shipping as well as clearing customs, this has turned out to be a real success.  Not only were the fire fighters able to complete what they set out to do but they managed to help out with the trucks that had been previously sent, sorting out several problems that the local fire fighters had run into.  It really proves that it is much better to do any technical work first hand rather than trying to do it “long distance”.

A feature that our fire fighters really liked was the large numbers on every large apartment building.  They certainly take the guess work out of finding a building in an emergency!

While Murray and I were out delivering a few last boxes I took this picture of some women working cleaning up a garden that they keep in front of their apartment building.

Dave and I stopped in for a last meeting with Galena, she is the head of the Chausy Region Social Services.  We took this opportunity to thank her for all of her assistance with customs clearance as well as in delivering our food boxes to the most needy of families.

We also stopped in to see the Mayor of the Chausy Region.  His authority was of great assistance with Customs clearance and we wanted to thank him for that.  He in turn was very appreciative for all of the aid and help that we are bringing to his region.  We spent some time discussing the plight of the orphans and we all agreed that everything we can do to help these children find the right path for their future is time and effort well spent.  He showed his appreciation by presenting us with copies of a recently published “History of the Chausy Region”.

We also made a stop at the Chausy Orphanage for a last meeting with Vitalli to review our accomplishments as well as make plans for the year ahead.  There are many very exciting initiatives for this orphanage in the next year, some of them are; plans for a Junior Hockey Team, high speed internet and a school web page and of course the building of a home on the grounds to help show the children how to live as a family and teach them the necessary skills of running a home.  The building that will be re-built for this is in the following picture.

You will also notice the children in this picture, the ones in the background having a little soccer scrimmage and the ones in the foreground working hard (on their own time) at removing stumps from the area where the orchard will be.

Of course many of the children came out to see us and to say goodbye to Dave as this is his last visit to the orphanage before heading home.

Our last stop for the day was to drop in and visit Sasha Krasikov and his mother Lena.  Sasha is the boy with brittle bone disease who has been to Canada for treatment and we hope to have him back soon to continue.  Since returning from Canada he has been living pain free for the first time in his life.

A visit to Chausy is not complete without a visit to Sasha just to hear him laugh … it recharges your soul!

Eric McKenzie