What a great day we had all the way around. Most of the Canadians were out on runs with the local Social Services delivering food boxes to those most in need. We also had our barn crew of Murray, David, Pat & Dan putting the roof on the Poultry Barn. Here is how it looked when I stopped in at the end of the day.
I went out to deliver food boxes with Liz Schuler and Vika Kaptselava (a delegate and interpreter). We loaded up the Russian built 4×4 UAZ ambulance at School #1 and our driver, Valodya, drove us out to a town called Garbovichi where we picked up our Social Services worker, Valentina. These little trucks have a very short wheel-base and therefore a very rough ride, but they never get stuck, although we came close a couple of times. Here are Vika, Liz and I are posing with the truck.
Here is another mode of transport that is seen frequently in the area and doesn’t get stuck either!
Here is a shot of a typical road in the area. However some are much rougher and muddier, especially in the hilly areas.
I have seen lots of interesting sights on these trips but this was the first time had seen dried fish hanging from the ceiling. They were even organized by size!
We delivered many boxes today to a wide variety of people including large families and single Moms, but the most interesting and sometimes the most heart wrenching are the seniors.
This first one is a lady named Vasia. She is 95 years old and lives alone. I should add that all of these visits were to homes we would consider to be “in the middle of nowhere”! Here she is with Vika, emotional that we have come to deliver a food box to her.
Her son lives in Mogilev (about a 30 minute drive away and he doesn’t have a car) with his wife and comes often to help take care of his mother. He was incredibly appreciative that we would come to help and had tears in his eyes many times as he thanked us over and over for bringing the food. We asked them to pose for a picture and before we were allowed to take it, Vasia insisted on changing her head scarf for her best one in order to look her best!
Our interpreters work very hard on these visits. They find out each person, or families, situation and ask lots of questions to help us understand. All of our interpreters are amazing and truly care for the people we are meeting. Vika exemplifies this and it is so obvious how much she cares when you see her interacting. She is quick with a hug or a hand on a shoulder or holding a hand while she explains why we are there. I put in the next picture specifically to show you her compassion and how she easily puts complete strangers at ease.
This visit was to a 95 year old woman named Anna who lived with her 72 year old daughter, Maria.
Anna recently had a heart attack and can no longer walk by herself as she is prone to falling.
Of course living in this area they do not have running water and would normally use an outhouse. Her daughter showed us a home-made commode that she made for her mother … pretty ingenious!
The lady below is named Vera and she is 90 years old. She worked as a health care aid for 60 years and finally retired 6 years ago at the age of 84! She traveled around the region giving inoculations, assisting women giving birth and taking care of the ill. Her only mode of travel … her feet! She walked miles and miles to the surrounding villages.
We found eighty year old Tanya (below) sitting outside beside a woodshed while her son worked on spring cleaning the yard area. He comes periodically to help out. She was a child during the war and somehow injured her leg. She did not explain how the injury occurred but it was severe enough that she has had to walk with canes or crutches ever since making it difficult to get around. Her pension is roughly $80.00 per month of which she spends $30.00 on medicine leaving her $50.00 to live on! The Social Services worker with us promised that she could get this increased to help her out.
Tanya was overcome with tears that someone brought her some food to help her out, but even more so because someone in the world remembered her.