Everything really started to roll today! On top of local pick-up and delivery of family parcels to the Chausy area, we got started on the Social Service runs today. We set up 5 teams, each consisting of 2 Canadians, an interpreter, a social services employee and a driver from Social Services. We split up by region and went out to deliver food boxes to impoverished families and seniors. The recipients are picked by the local social services workers based on need, the quantity is determined by the number of food boxes that we sell during our spring drive. Here Tracy Yuille, Dave Shaw, Rhona Dixon, Cathy Boone and our interpreter Natasha, meet with the Social Services workers to organize the deliveries.
I was teamed up with Janet Cooper and our interpreter Tanya. We loaded up the food boxes and headed out to the Volkovichi area and several of the villages there. Our first stop was an elderly woman living alone in a small house. She was very surprised and happy to receive the food box as it will help her get through until spring when the gardens can be planted.
Here is a picture of her very small house, what is unusual is the lack of outdoor sheds or structures found at virtually every home in the region!
With the recent thaw and now the temperature hovering just around freezing, there is lots of mud everywhere. Many of the roads are impassable and we often had to park and carry the boxes beyond where the van could travel. Here Janet and Tanya work their way down the road trying to keep out of the deep mud.
This man, who is unable to work due to his extremely poor eyesight, met us a few houses from his place to save us the walk. Here Tanya is explaining what the items in the box are, as of course, they are labelled in English.
This little girl is 12 years old and was home alone babysitting her baby sister while her mother was at work.
The house we were delivering this box to was another two houses past the one you can see in the photo (and they are not very close together). This woman and her daughter walked to meet us, as again, this road would have been impossible to drive on.
This woman is 85 years old and just as spry and happy as could be! She was extremely happy to see us and extremely thankful for the help. For most of these people the fact that someone actually shows up and brings them something is inconceivable to them. Most have never received anything in their lives and when we show up they are overwhelmed that someone actually cares enough to help.
We also bring quilts with us that have been lovingly hand-made by groups of quilters and donated for us to deliver to those in need. Each time we came across a young child or infant we would give the mother one of the quilts. This little sweetie was all smiles when she modeled her new quilt for us!
This woman’s name is Ekaterina, she is 74 years old and supporting her “invalid” son (he appeared to have mental illness of some kind). When she was 17 years old she moved to Kazakhstan, she married and had eight children. Last year she moved back to Belarus near where all of her ancestors are buried. Unfortunately she does not receive any pension because there are problems with her paperwork, she is hoping to have this corrected in April when she will start to receive her pension of approximately $100 per month! Her only family in the area is a son who worked at Chernobyl and is now in the hospital in Mogilev about 25 kilometers away. She wanted to visit him but had no money at all to get there!
She was extremely grateful for the food and was crying and hugging us when we went to leave. We slipped her a few Rubles before leaving and she cried and waved until we were out of sight! These are the visits that really drive home the difference such a small thing for us can make in the lives of others and the need for us to share with those who are less fortunate through no fault of their own.
Back at the warehouse the rest of the group was busy delivering parcels sent by Canadians to families in the region. The woman in the picture below is Irina Denisyenko, she is the mother of a girl that is developmentally delayed and started an organization to support local families with “invalid” children. We have been supporting her group for many years and this year we brought her a beautiful bike for her to use herself. She gives so much to her families and asks nothing in return. I think the smile on her face shows her true appreciation for this small act of kindness.
As mentioned before, the weather this spring has been cold and changeable. The sun was out for a brief visit this afternoon, but by late afternoon we were getting snow!
This was another great day and tomorrow we will continue with the deliveries … stay tuned!