The Board of Directors has worked really hard this year to grow our dwindling Children’s Program and we have been successful! Last year we were at an all-time low of 6 children and this year we are back up to 19! What is even more wonderful is that quite a few of these children are from the Chausy Orphanage, so not only are they receiving badly needed respite from the radiation but they are also learning what it is like to live in a loving family environment. Something they can carry with them the rest of their lives and hopefully model when they start their own families.
Two important things we did this year directly impacted this result. The first was the Board of Directors committing to raising all of the money to bring the children so the host families would not have to. The second was shortening the program from six weeks to five weeks and we will see at the end of the summer how this worked for everyone.
On Tuesday a small group of us traveled to Montreal to pick up the children at the airport. Although they were tired after their long journey, they were still smiling. Here Vlada gives two of our youngest travelers, Marina and Valeria, a hug.
Here are all of the children waiting for our bus to pick us up at the airport.
During the trip from Montreal the first time kids were watching out the window looking at the landscape as well as the different vehicles that we have here. I am sure they were also getting excited about meeting their host families. This is Denis and Nikita.
When we arrived in Brockville the host families were all waiting. Here Kristina is approaching her “new family” while in the background another Kristina, who is back for her 3rd visit, greets her family.
On Friday afternoon we met with Steve Pettibone from the Brockville Recorder and Times as he is working on a story about the children’s program (watch for it this week). Here is Kristina with her family and Marina, one of our interpreters, at Blockhouse Island just after the interview. The Gaudin Family are a first time host family of a girl from the Chausy Orphanage, based on the interview it seems that Kristina is fitting right in and enjoying their active life! From left, Angie and Emma Gaudin, Kristina, Marina, Jason and Payton Gaudin.
While we were there, we also had a couple of other children with us and Ilya (also from the orphanage) was fascinated by the kites being flown. When this man found out that Ilya was visiting from Belarus he gave him his kite to keep! Here Ilya proudly holds up his kite in one hand and his recently acquired coke in the other!
The more I am involved with this organization the more I realize that our community is filled with wonderful caring people.