Busy Bees in Belarus!

Where to start?  As I have mentioned previously this is a busy week.  We have a lot of people here and a many activities happening at the same time. Unfortunately I cannot be everywhere at once, but I will try to give you a flavour of everything that I can.  I also apologize if these blogs are longer than usual, but please indulge me and hang in until the end and I will try to make it worth your while.

We have many first time visitors with us this year who have all come to see first hand the difference in quality of life brought about through donations from CAC supporters.  Our day started with a meeting with the Mayor of the Chausy Region who welcomed the Canadians and thanked each of the delegates for their contribution to improving the lives of the citizens in his region.  Here is a picture of the delegates with the Mayor on the steps of the town hall.

Rather than list all of the delegates now, I plan to post something about each of them over the next few days. I believe that only one delegate is missing from the picture and that is Tim Lidlow, one of our firefighters, who I am pretty sure was rescuing a cat from a tree!

There were many tours today including the Chausy Hospital with it’s recent renovations to the ICU and surgery, thanks to Don & Shirley Green, the Chausy Museum with many interesting local and cultural artifacts and the Mogilev Orphanage for Girls.  Here are some of the girls who performed for us during a short concert held in our honour:

The Mogilev Orphanage has only been in existence for 5 years but is the top orphanage in the district.  It is unusual as it was set up as an orphanage for gifted girls. They pick the brightest and most talented girls and have them attend the nearby public school, tutor them in their studies and allow them time for training in their various gifts.  These include music, dance, and many forms of art.  On our tour we were shown a lot of examples of their handiwork.  Here are some paintings created by the children:

Here is Mary Ellen Morris (Rotary Club Past President), who has just been presented a gift of a tree made from beads, with the Assistant Director, New Director and the recently retired Director:

CAC has been involved in updating this older building with new washrooms and new flooring as well as providing annual supplies of hygiene products and gently used clothing.  The current wish-list includes badly needed light fixtures to replace the old inadequate and broken ones.

Of the many projects going on this trip, none is more exciting for the coaches and hockey players at the orphanage then the 5 day hockey school being held at the Ice Palace in Mogilev, the only indoor rink in the region!  The school is being run by the Malcomson and Knowles families.  The Malcomsons are long time supporters of this orphanage through Canadian Aid for Chernobyl.  They were major sponsors of the “Malcomson House”project that has been built on the orphanage grounds (and where they are currently living), in 2006 they completely outfitted the senior boys hockey team with state of the art Nike and Bauer equipment and this year did the same for the junior boys team.  The senior boys team came in third place in the province-wide “Gold Puck” tournament this year.

The children in this orphanage come from some of the most difficult backgrounds.  Most have been removed from their families due to neglect or abuse and this type of program is designed to help build their self esteem, confidence and discipline.

This coaching team is made up of:
David Malcomson – Head coach
Allan Malcomson – Forwards
Brian Knowles – Goalies
Shawn Knowles – Defence
Ashley Knowles – Power and beginner skating

The coaching starts right in the dressing room teaching the children how to properly wear all of the equipment and with discussion of the importance of positioning.  Here David is leading this discussion and the children really seemed to get it:

Here are the children doing skating drills:

One of the drills involves jumping over  a series of sticks on the ice:

Here are the defence group listening to instruction from Shawn:

Stick-handling drills:

Brian working with the goalies:

They are holding 2 hour sessions everyday this week and the kids seem to be really benefiting.  Of course the coaches are paying close attention and taking lots of notes so they can keep the training going after the Canadians leave.  After today’s session the kids were treated to dinner in the small restaurant at the ice palace … another very exciting reward for these children.

One of the coaches joked that he was a little afraid that he might be training an athlete who someday could score the winning goal against Canada in a future Olympics.  Although the glint in his eye suggested he might not be too heartbroken if it was indeed one of “our” boys!

Eric McKenzie

5 thoughts on “Busy Bees in Belarus!

  1. connie lou sebast

    the smiling faces and close attention that the children are paying demonstrate that it is all worthwhile. Great job to all involved.

  2. Annis

    Great presentation Eric, – as always. So good to see “our kids” & familiar faces. Great job everyone. ( Wish I was with you.) Say HI to everyone for me. Travel safely.

  3. Ian

    Looks like the group is enjoying their visit and it is great to see the smile on Mary Ellen’s face. Keep an eye on those hockey players. We might need one in Brockville this year

  4. Monika

    Amazing to see all the support and involvement!
    How do coaches and children communicate with the visitors? In English? Do you have translators?

  5. Kenny Sine

    Glad to see things are going well and the smiles on the children’s faces. Say hello to everyone for me!

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