The Canadians were spread pretty wide today working on a variety of activities and projects. I will cover a few here and the rest in a future post when I can get the pictures and stories from the others.
This morning Neil Matheson and Stephen MacKinnon met with the orphanage director and librarian to discuss the library and our on-going initiative. Funds are raised by two schools, Lyn and Maple Ridge Pubic schools, through our “Reading for Excellence” Program. Children in Canada are challenged to get sponsors to read as many books as they can in a set period of time. This is a great opportunity to turn children into lifetime readers. The money raised is used to buy library books for the orphanage. This year $800 was raised. Here is a picture of part of the library at the Chausy Orphanage.
Here are Stephen and Neil meeting with Vitalli (orphanage director) and Svetlana (orphanage librarian), along with our interpreter Natasha. It was agreed that some of the money would be used to purchase books and the balance used for magazine subscriptions to help draw more children into the library and reading.
Yesterday CAC met with the Directors of the “Belarussian Association of Adult Invalids – Chausy Region” which has over 800 members. We had supported this organization in the past with humanitarian aid, but were not happy with the distribution and politics within the old board of directors. The past board has been dissolved and replaced with a new one, who share a common vision with our group. The meeting was excellent and the new board was very excited to move forward with our assistance. The local municipal government had given them a small office and storage space, but the electricity had been cut off due to unpaid bills. CAC agreed to pay this debt and help renovate and repair the site as long as our delegates could work with them to help develop rapport and relationships with the organization. The offices are located in this building.
The space is a complete disaster and was filled with broken furniture and equipment over 50 years old. The rooms were emptied and cleaned out. Here an electrician looks over the wiring to make improvements before the electricity can be turned back on.
Here is a picture of the empty storage room, complete with mold and mildew. By the end of the day and with the help of our very handy drivers, the mold had been sprayed with a special chemical to kill it, the walls and floor had been patched and repaired and a coat of primer had been applied. The electrician had replaced and repaired the wiring. On Saturday our team will go back and paint.
With the help of our driver Sergei and interpreter Nina, we managed to track down some equipment in Mogilev to set up a “slackline” (click on the link for more on slacklining) at the Chausy orphanage. Of course a crowd had gathered before we finished setting it up and we must have had half of the children try it out over the next two hours!
The kids started out with bare feet, as this is the best way, but with the temperature at about +2 C we were told that the kids should be wearing shoes to try to keep them from catching a cold.
The children had a lot of fun and some of them had a real natural ability to balance. What was so great to see was the interaction between the children. How they cheered each other on or helped each other get up if they fell down. Several times the older boys would help the little guys by holding on to them while they tried it. They really are a great big family here!
Of course there were some spills and the boy in the picture below took way more than his fair share … but he kept coming back and trying harder!
Here is a short video to give you an idea as to what they are actually doing on the line.http://www.canadianaidforchernobyl.com/main/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Slacklining.wmv
We had such a great time interacting with the boys and we told them that we were giving them the slackline equipment and that we want to see what they can do when we come back next year!
I promise to post more on the other projects as soon as I get the pictures and stories from the other Canadians.