During our stay in Belarus there are many highs and lows (mostly highs) and it would be difficult to pick which day was the “best day”. However, to pick a day that from start to finish is the most fun, without a doubt all of the Canadians would pick today! This is the day that we take the entire orphanage to Mogilev for hockey and skating and then back to the orphanage for a concert put on by the children.
The day started when we met at the orphanage for everyone to try on skates and for those of us planning to play hockey to pick out our gear. Of course we get first pick of the equipment that we have delivered in the past, I think that they want to make sure we don’t get hurt!
Three buses are brought in to transport the children to the ice palace in Mogilev (45 minutes away). Some of the Canadians ride on the buses with the children and the rest get rides with our regular drivers. Here is the first bus pulling into the parking lot in Mogilev.
Once we figure out how to put on the equipment (quite a challenge for some of us) we head out to the ice for the Canadians versus Belarus game. We are an equal opportunity team and we had Rhona suit up for our team, we figured she could confuse them with some fancy figure skating footwork! Here she is with Pat before the game.
Here are a few of the old-timers having a rest on the bench!
And a little hockey action. Of course the orphanage team beat us, in the early years the Canadians would make sure the the orphanage team won by a point or two, but now with the hockey team in place we are lucky to score a few goals and not embarrass ourselves too badly!
After the game all of the children and staff from the orphanage and all of the Canadians get an hour to skate. For a lot of these children it is a very rare opportunity to get out of the orphanage. The children will grab hold of our hands and skate together, then dash off to chase their friends … it is pure fun and laughter to whole time.
Afterward the children pile back onto the buses where the Canadians deliver potato chips and pop to all of the children … another rare treat.
Once back at the orphanage the children are fed their dinner and get ready for the concert that they have prepared for us. Those who are not involved directly in the concert join the Canadians in the audience.
What a wonderful concert! The talent of these children is amazing and it is obvious that they have been practicing for this moment. Here one of the older girls performs a song for us.
Part way through the concert we stop for a few presentations. Here Neil and Lisa (and our interpreter Masha) show the children a banner that has the Lyn School Lions insignia at one end and the Chausy Orphanage Meteor insignia at the other. The connection between these two schools has been going for 10 years now and Neil had all of the children at the Lyn School sign this banner which will be hung at the Orphanage. Neil also brought a second banner which will be signed by all of the children at the orphanage and taken back to hang in the Lyn School.
A presentation was also made of an electronic piano by Lisa. This is a very high end piano with a lot of features for music composition. It has many voices, a computer interface and the ability to store song components and burn songs to CD’s. This is going to be a very valuable tool for the already successful music program.
The music teacher performed a song for us that was composed by 3 girls from the orphanage and has won several awards. It is about a mother who chooses alcohol over her baby. They wrote it in hopes that it may make some people think and maybe save a child or two from a future that is their current reality! A thought provoking moment indeed!
Neil also presented this years books purchased with funds raised by the Lyn School.
Every year children graduate and leave the orphanage and this year was no different. Approximately 30 children have moved on and 30 new children have arrived. One of the new kids is this little boy who performed for us. He has a personality that shines through and his performance was wonderful.
Of course there are also the children that we have watched grow and develop over the years and one of the shining stars is Nastia. She has a beautiful voice and sang a lovely song for us.
During one of the songs 4 of the children came out and grabbed 4 Canadians to get up and dance. I was fortunate enough to stay hidden behind my camera. Did I mention that this was a fun day?
After the performances by the children our own Pat got up and did a couple of tunes and then one of our drivers, Andre, who is very talented, also sang a few songs. The kids always enjoy his performance and he has them singing along and laughing every year. He managed to convince all of the Canadians to get up and sing a rendition of “If you’re happy and you know it…”.
After the concert we have another chance to mingle with the children and the Canadians always bring candy and Canadian pins and stickers to share with the kids. Here is Murray handing out some candy.
Although I am tired and will probably be pretty sore tomorrow, today will be remembered as a great day where the deliveries are behind us and the kids come first … as it should be!