Today was a beautiful sunny day with a high of about ten degrees C. One of the things that has really helped us coordinate everything over the past few years is the availability of cell phones. Unlike Canada, cell phone usage is unbelievably inexpensive here. We are able to get a SIM card for about $3.00 and usage is also very cheap. I use mine to connect to the internet and it allows me to keep up with what is going on as well as post this blog and pictures to Facebook. Although this picture is a little staged it is not an uncommon site as we coordinate between delegates, drivers and interpreters.
With the nice weather I decided to grab a few pictures around the region to give you a
bit of a flavour for the area. This is a very typical street on the outskirts of Chausy.
Even though the snow was long gone before I arrived, the rain over the last two days has left lots of puddles. The drainage is not as good as in most developed places in Canada, although the very sandy soil seems to permit drainage fairly quickly given a few days.
It is very common to see many piles of firewood near the houses as most of them heat entirely with wood. This is a pile that has been dropped by a truck and will be stacked close the house for easy access.
Here a couple are doing some Spring work around their yard. In the foreground is a pile of sand and stone that will be used to fill holes and level the driveway. In the back you see piles of manure waiting to be spread on the kitchen garden.
The trees are blocking part of the view, but what you are looking at is a field divided up into kitchen garden plots and many of them have small green houses on them. The occupants of the apartment buildings in the background can rent a garden space here to grow the vegetables necessary to supplement their food supply.
We also stopped in at the Chausy market located behind the bus station which is very central in town. This market runs 5 days a week all year in Chausy. This is Pat Yuille and Fiona Cleary at the entrance gate. The sign is pronounced “Reenok” which means “Market-Place”.
At this time of year there are many people selling these plastic flowers. In May is a day that families go to the cemetery to visit and pay their respect to their ancestors and people bring these flowers to leave at the graveside.
Of course seeds are now available for Spring planting in their kitchen gardens.
This booth sells footwear, underwear, socks among other things and is owned by one of our driver/interpreters, Inna. The store is being minded by her sister Tanya while Inna is helping us.
I had an opportunity to stop in and see Dr. Galena at the Chausy orphanage and drop off a “pulse-oximeter” that Peggy had donated by a friend. Dr. Galena was very excited to get this device and said that it would be very valuable in the ICU. I also gave her two used stethoscopes donated by a doctor in Brockville. They will be given to two new young doctors at the Hospital and will be very valuable for them every day.
Pat and Tracy Yuille always load up their suitcases with lots of gifts for the people that we meet in Chausy. I saw Pat giving some tools to some of our drivers and I was with him when he presented a gift to Larissa, the cook at the orphanage. He knew from last year that Larissa suffered from arthritis in her hands and he brought her some medication for this as well as a beautiful shirt and some make-up. Larissa was tickled pink that Pat would remember her this way.
Pat has horses in Canada and he had a harness for pulling a wagon that he did not use so he packed it in his bag and then started asking around for someone who could use it. He found the perfect recipient in a man in Chausy named Nikolai, who had recently arrived home from the hospital with some heart problems. We stopped in at his house and he had his son, also named Nikolai, bring the horse out of his small stable in the backyard. Masha is a 14 year old mare that was a little nervous at first, but Pat soon put her at ease as he showed Nikolai how the harness was used as it is different then the typical harness used here. In this picture you see Nikolai, Masha, Nikolai Sr. and Pat.
It is amazing the impact something like this can have. Nikolai was astounded that Pat had come all the way from Canada and tracked him down to give him this wonderful gift. I could see the tears welling up in his eyes as he thanked Pat repeating several times … “balshoi spaseba”, thank you very much! Of all of the projects and initiatives that we do in Belarus, it often seems to be the small personal moments that fill your heart the fullest, that appreciative hand-shake, that bear hug, that unwavering direct eye contact and of course those beautiful words … balshoi spaseba!