It is unbelievable how fast the time has gone this trip. It seems like I have only just arrived in Belarus and we are getting ready to leave. Today, many of the Canadians left for home and few more will leave each day this week leaving only Neil and Lisa here to finish up with visits to all of the Guardian Angel Program families. We have been so busy getting everything delivered that there are a few visits that we were unable to make. One that I am very sorry to have missed is our annual pancake supper with Sasha Krasakov (the boy with brittle bone disease) and his wonderful family. I was also unable to spend any time with the fire fighters to get updates on their progress (I will try to post something on this later) and I was unable to attend the presentation of the beautiful hand-made quilts to the children in the orphanages. Dave has promised me that he has photos and will pass them along for a future post.
Tonight will be my last night with my host family as Murray and I will be heading to Minsk tomorrow to make the delivery of the final boxes.
Today, however, was a great day. It is always a highlight of every trip to drive to Klichev (2 hours and 40 minute drive) to deliver to Rita Kuntikova and her amazing family. We stopped in Mogilev to fuel up the truck and car as we headed out. Fuel costs the same price at every station as it is regulated by the government.
We also had to make a stop to deliver a fridge to a girl who is a graduate of the Chausy Orphanage and now living in a very small apartment in downtown Mogilev. She was extremely excited to receive this gift and I was extremely excited that she only lived on the 3rd floor!
Once we turned off of the main highway for the final 50 kilometers to Klichev the road was mostly very straight with a line of birch trees on either side separating it from the huge agricultural fields on both sides. There are a few very large collective farms along this road.
Now for the stats on Rita’s family:
32 children of which
18 live at home
4 are away at school (and come home on holidays)
10 now live independently and have a total of
and you thought your life was busy!
Of the 32 four are Rita and her husbands “natural” children. The first time we visited Neil asked which of the children were hers to which she replied “they are all my children!”
When we arrived Rita was not yet home from a trip to Babruisk but was due at any minute so some of the older boys and Dad came out to help unload.
When Rita arrived we were opening boxes to show them what was inside.
The biggest hit was the many boxes of shoes that we brought that were donated. We brought enough sizes and styles to outfit everyone in both shoes and winter boots. There was also a bunk bed with mattresses, many, many hand knitted sweaters and quilts, kitchen utensils and dishes along with a stroller and highchair. Here Lisa holds a sweater up to little Asha.
and Mini-Misha (the mini is to differentiate him from the 3 other Misha’s in the family!) tries on a small quilt.
While we were talking Asha picked up some hair accessories from one of the boxes and took them to her mother who patiently put them in her hair to form two little pigtails the way she likes them.
One of the things that always amazes me is how all of the children help look after the younger children. It is not forced or requested and is obvious that this is a natural occurrence that happens daily.
One of the boys wanted to show me the beds that we had delivered the year before.
Lisa pulled out a large toy parking garage and a load of cars and trucks and boys descended on it and began playing together.
Rita invited us for tea and cookies and while we were sitting down Neil presented her with a new digital camera, case and memory card, purchased and donated by a woman in London Ontario. She was absolutely thrilled. They have been borrowing one from a neighbour occasionally to get some pictures but now would have their own! Note the teapot in the photo, Neil commented that it was the largest tea-pot he had ever seen and Rita replied “I have a large family.” An understatement if there ever was one!
When we were leaving the table to head out we realized that Lisa was missing … we found her on the floor in the play room with the boys and their cars!
Lisa joked that she would love to take Asha and/or Mini-Misha home with her and Rita laughed and said that she could not have ANY of HER children! Then she told us the story of how and when she came to adopt both of these children. No question that these were ALL her children! It is an amazing family and so heartwarming every time we visit!
Three or four times during our trip we passed horses and wagons on the shoulder of the highway … I managed to get a picture of this one as we sped by.
Back in Chausy, David, Margaret, Murray and some of the Orphanage staff installed a second greenhouse today. The one put up last year was 20′ x 60′ and the new one is 20′ x 36′. All that is left is for the plastic to go on and then they can start utilizing them for this years plants.
The weather was sunny and warm today (approx 14 degrees) and after taking some pictures of the greenhouse I noticed a bunch of the boys from the orphanage out playing a game of soccer.
Afterward we headed back to School #1 to clean out the gym.
It is hard to believe that we managed to deliver all of these boxes in just one week.
Here is the final load ready to take to Minsk tomorrow morning.