One of the highlights of the trip for the Canadians is the “Day of the Angel” party. This is a celebration of half of the children’s birthdays, with the other half celebrated at a party held in the fall. It is organized by Irina Denisyenko, who is the driving force behind the local organization called “Families of Invalid Children”, and Neil Matheson who is CAC’s Coordinator of our “Guardian Angel Program” (GAP) with funds provided by the Rotary Club. Of course for the children and families involved it is a major highlight of their year. We have juice, fruit, cookies and candy along with games, singing and of course presents for each of the children. It is an opportunity to get together in a large group and just have fun!
It is held in the Chausy Concert Hall, which is also used for local concerts and as a movie theatre.
The first person I saw when I walked in the door was Sasha Krasikov. Sasha has brittle bone disease and thanks to a trip to Canada and the wonderful Doctors at the Shrine Hospital in Montreal he is now living life pain free. The change in this boy is astounding! He was wheeling himself around and playing with a balloon with several other children.
Here is Irina Denisyenko speaking to the children and starting the festivities.
The children are seated at tables for the entertainment portion. There is a small troupe of local children’s performers who act out nursery rhymes and organize games for the children.
This little girl was having a hard time deciding which was more fascinating, the entertainers or the Canadians.
Here a couple of the Canadians were pulled up to help in a game where the children had to draw faces on balloons.
Many of the children along with quite a few Canadians were brought up to “play instruments” along with some very lively music.
The formal part of the party ends with the presentation of gifts to each of the children who are called up, by name, one at a time. Neil and Lisa presented all of the gifts.
Here one of the Dad’s helps his son receive his gift. This boy is blind and autistic and has a wonderful father. He was standing across from me during the entertainment and I watched the father gently stroking his sons cheek to sooth him during the noisy parts. I was asking Neil about him and he told me that the father taught him how to ride a bicycle. He built a pair of large training wheels for the bicycle and then stretched a rope between two posts. Then he taught him to ride sliding his hand along the rope as he went until he got to the post. Then he would turn around and do it again, laughing and smiling the whole time. This is a father dedicated to giving his son the best quality of life that he can.
Afterward, Irina presented each Canadian with a gift of art created by the children and made with love for us so that we can keep the children in our hearts even while we are back at home. Here Jann poses with her art and a little boy named Andre who made it for her.
The party was a great success and everyone left with a smile on their face and a warm glow in their heart.
Some of the Canadians missed the party to continue with the deliveries as we realized that no deliveries would be possible tomorrow as it is Easter Sunday. When we returned to the gym at School #1 we found a near empty gym! Somehow we had managed to deliver just about everything in record time. The last few trucks were loaded and I jumped in a van with Randy & Margaret for a run out to Kuzmanichi, a small village about 20 minutes away that I had delivered to in previous years. It was really nice to pull up to a house and have the family recognize you and greet you with warm hugs. Margaret asked for a picture and they insisted that we join them and have it taken by our interpreter. What a lovely family.
The last stop was to drop a food box to a woman who’s husband had passed away two years ago, just a month or so prior to our visit. As soon as Margaret & I saw her we recognized her as the “apple lady”. That day two years before she was still grieving for her husband and was so thankful for the food box that she wanted to give us something in return. All she had was a few apples left in her winter storage. We accepted the apples and enjoyed them on our way home … it was a gesture I will never forget, an apple has never tasted so good. This year she also remembered us and apologized because she had nothing to give us in return, Margaret told her that her smile of recognition was more than enough! Here is Margaret with our “apple lady”.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and the Canadians are taking a day off to spend with their families. Most of the heavy work is done, but we still have a few exciting days planned so stay tuned!