Today was our first full day of deliveries and we made the most of it! It started at 8 AM and I got home at 11:30 PM. It is now 12:45 AM and I still have quite a bit to do to finish this post so I will probably keep the text to a minimum and share a lot of pictures with you.
As I have mentioned before it is critical that all documentation is accurate and we always have someone manning the “desk”. Here Tanya, one of our interpreters, uses the inventory list to call local people to see if they can come in and pick up their boxes. We must also collect Passport information and signatures for every box.
We keep track of our official documents, drivers and interpreters on this white board.
There is also lots of organizing, lifting and loading to be done.
Some of us were starting on our Social Service runs today. We have 270 food boxes that were donated but not assigned to a specific family. We give this number to the local Social Services organization and they pick those most in need to receive them. These are usually rural seniors, single Mom’s and large families. At this time of year the winter root cellar and preserves have been exhausted but it is too early for the gardens, so there is a great need. Normally we have large vans and 4 wheel drive vehicles for this job but today there weren’t any available so they sent us a bus! We loaded up 30 boxes, 3 Canadians, 1 interpreter, 1 Social Service worker and a driver and headed out.
This is pretty typical of the area we were in.
Belarus had the coldest winter with the most snow in over 30 years, as a result there is water everywhere. This section of road was washed away so someone marked it with this flag, although you wouldn’t get far once you avoided it as the road was completely washed out in both directions just past this.
This man’s wife was in the hospital so he was taking care of the home and took great pride in showing us how clean he had the whole house! In this picture he is signing our sheet.
The woman in this picture was being taken care of by her son, again the house was very clean and tidy.
The storks are returning to the area after the winter and pairing up in their giant nests, some in trees like this one, but many more on top of the many village water towers.
Most rural roads with a dozen or more houses clustered together have a little government store. They all look similar to this.
Inside it is like stepping back 100 years. They have a few necessities along with a little hardware, fresh bread etc.
We felt very strange driving around the country in this big bus. We got a lot of strange looks as we made our way around. Our driver stopped and turned the bus around many times due to water and mud and we would walk carrying the food box(es) with us. However at this one particularly large “lake” in the road he decided to take a run at it as we were returning. I couldn’t believe he tried it and was even more surprised when he made it. The funny thing was we ended up having to return through it a little while later.
At one home we met two unmarried sisters living together. They had this picture of themselves on the wall obviously taken long ago.
I asked if I could take a picture of them but unfortunately did not realize I had them reversed in my picture.
The man in the next picture gave us directions to several houses in the area and I asked him if I could take his picture. I couldn’t resist, he was such a happy guy and had such a great face!
Here’s a picture showing some of the standing water.
A typical country road.
This mode of transport is still being utilized everyday in the country and at this time of year, for many, it is the only way they can get to and from their homes.
This last picture is of a woman who was being cared for by her daughter-in-law. She told me that although she cannot get out of bed or get out anymore, her mind is still sharp. Again, this home was clean and neat and well looked after.
We also spent the evening delivering family parcels in Mogilev (45 minutes from Chausy). With that task done we can now focus on finishing the Chausy region.
It is hard to convey the feeling you get when making these deliveries, especially to those in dire need. I had one woman tell me that she is over 70 years old and this is the first present anyone had ever given her. Most are overwhelmed by the food and usually there are tears of gratitude along with hugs and never ending “thank you so much” (balshoy spaseba).
I know I will sleep well tonight and not just because I’m bone tired! I have a warmth in my heart filled with the smiles and tears of the wonderful people that I met today.