We have a group in Belarus right now, as we usually do at this time of year, but this trip is proving to be extremely busy and productive. There has been a lot going on over the past week and I will try to get blogs posted over the next few days to bring you up to date. Today, however I will focus on the Chausy Orphanage. There have been significant changes here as the Director, Vitalli, has been promoted to head up all of the schools in the region. He has been replaced at the orphanage by Oleg Petrovich who has been the Sport Director here for the past 11 years. Although we have known him as the Sport Director we were unsure as to how we would all work together in this new structure. Members of our Board of Directors have had several meetings with him and have found that he shares our vision and is very interested in moving forward with our support to continue with the programs we have in place as well as continue to develop new programs that will help the children find and develop their natural talents and abilities. Here is Oleg addressing the students and delegates at a concert held in our honour today.
This year the orphanage has 19 new children who came from an orphanage in Krugala that has been closed, bringing the current number of students up to 58. An interest interesting development yesterday … 2 boys from a Cadet orphanage in Mogilev skipped school and somehow made their way the 40 kilometers from Mogilev to Chausy where they essentially asked to “defect” to the Chausy orphanage. They have friends here and had heard of the many programs and opportunities available and asked if they could move to the Chausy Orphanage to live and attend school. Although the Director of their school was very concerned and upset, Oleg convinced him that if they wanted to come here that badly that the door was open to them! So now we have 60 children!
The concert today was probably the best one yet. The children kept it flowing and the talent was exceptional. Of course another year of students has graduated so all of the children move up a notch. The 3 girls below are now some of the oldest and are quickly coming into their own as seasoned performers:
Karina, below, is in the middle age group and really impressed everyone with her singing and her performing. She has a very natural dramatic flair and is always smiling and dancing while she sings.
Of course the younger children have a chance in the limelight and they are always entertaining!
They even managed to get a few of the Canadians up dancing!
The boys performed some judo and gymnastics and one of the new boys demonstrated “parkour“. He is part of a club out of Mogilev and his demonstration was so scary that I forgot to take pictures!
The children also enjoyed the concert as you can tell by the smiles on their faces.
Three of the boys performed a mock ballet and had everyone in stitches!
Kristina is one of the senior students and performed several songs alone as well as danced and sang with the other girls. I remember her well as a little girl from my first visit in 2006 and it is hard to believe that she has so quickly grown into a beautiful young woman.
There is much more to report and as I mentioned earlier I will try to get everything posted over the next few days. Dave Shaw was telling me tonight that his dream from the beginning was to help create an environment at the orphanage that is so successful and offers so many opportunities that children would run away from home to live at the orphanage and now we have had our first two defections!