As part of our Fall delegation, CAC Director Stephen MacKinnon once again returned to work with the children at the Chausy Orphanage. Stephen is a past recipient of the Prime Ministers award for teaching here in Canada and over the past several years has put his skills to excellent use helping these children. He set the groundwork for the development of a fourth Yearbook for the orphanage school and got them to start the process of taking school photos along with capturing pictures and memories to be published.
Another highlight of Stephen’s visits is the creation of videos by the students. This Fall it was Karina, a talented singer and dancer at the orphanage, who took up the challenge and created a documentary about a new student at the orphanage. Every trip the quality and creativity of the videos improves and this was the best one yet! Here is Karina working with Stephen while another student, Ilya, looks on.
During the September delegation, Canadian Aid for Chernobyl initiated a new educational program in the Chausy region. During previous visits, Stephen MacKinnon noted the challenges the orphan children have in selecting their careers and further education. Many pick their careers as early as grade 9 with minimal information and no parental guidance. To help address this, Stephen and Dave Shaw put in motion the equivalent of the Canadian “Take Our Kids to Work Day” in which students visit actual workplaces and experience careers first hand. During meetings with the school social worker, the school director, the regional education director and the mayor of Chausy, the concept received universal support. “День профессий” which translates as “Day of Professions” is now in their hands for implementation throughout the Chausy region.
While the boys were getting ready for hockey school, the girls at the orphanage got their own special treat … a trip to Minsk. In reward for the many, many concerts at the Chausy orphanage that the Canadians have enjoyed over the years, Stephen MacKinnon took eight singers and their music teacher out on the town.
The day included a visit to the National Library, a tour of the sights of Minsk, stops at a Jewish war memorial and the Red Church, a backstage tour of the National Musical Comedy Theatre, supper at McDonald’s and an evening performance of a Russian rock opera.
The trip was designed to expand the students’ cultural experience, open their eyes to the world beyond Chausy and to boost their self-esteem. When asked what their favourite part of the day was, everyone’s answer was the same … “everything!”.
Stephen MacKinnon and Eric McKenzie