While we are waiting for the packages to be released from Customs the delegation was busy today reviewing our current and ongoing projects. Harry and Mary Preston have brought a lot of items for the primary grades at the school here and stopped in for a visit. Here are some children from the 1st grade at school # 1 with a Canadian flag that they brought with them.
We also stopped in at the Dream Mountains Crisis Centre for Women and Children. This was the first time that Rotarian Mary Ellen Morris had seen the centre since her previous visit three and a half years ago when we first looked at this location. We have a lot of materials in bond to help finish the decoration of the centre and Jann Smith spent some time discussing some of the needs for the centre with the Director. Here are Mary Ellen, Jann, Annis Moreau, Tanya the Director and Pat Yuille in the living room.
One of the larger projects this year is the renovation of the Sterilization Room at the Chausy Hospital. This is being done through a partnership with the Chausy Region Authority, Don and Shirley Green of Brockville, ON and Canadian Aid for Chernobyl. Here is a picture showing the contractors working on the new door. We were unable to get into the area due to the construction.
This is the first part of a two part project that will see the Emergency Room renovated next year. Here is a picture of the outside of the ER.
We took a complete tour of the hospital and we were able to see the great contrast between the areas that have been renovated and the areas that have not. At this point both the operating room and the critical care ward have been completed. You can still see that most of the equipment and furniture in the rest of the hospital are also in need of replacement.
While we were there they were serving lunch to the patients. It was a buckwheat porridge with some meat and gravy.
Up until last year the Director of the Chausy Orphanage had been a man named Vitalli. He has been very helpful to us and supportive of all of our initiatives. Last year he was promoted to the Department of Education and this year he was promoted again to one the Deputy Mayor positions for the Chausy Region. Dave and myself, along with our interpreter Natasha, had a meeting with him today to review some of our programs. The Social Services fall under his leadership and we know that he will be helpful to us in ensuring that the programs we have put in place are supported and utilized. It was a very good meeting and it is so nice to know that we have someone we trust so well in this very important position.
This is my wife, Peggy’s first trip to Belarus and, being a nurse, she took great interest in the Hospital tour today. We left Peggy and Mary Ellen at the Social Workshop for the afternoon. This workshop was established to help support a local group called “The Organization of Families with Invalid Children” which was started by a local woman named Irina Denisyenko and now helps more than 140 families in the region! Peggy and Mary Ellen had a chance to try their hands at some of the crafts and make a connection with the children. Here Irina helps Peggy with a straw doll she is making while Mary Ellen looks on.
Here two of the members work together on a project.
This social workshop gives these children a place to go and develop skills. They work on crafts that they sell in the market and at local festivals, but most importantly it gives them a purpose everyday, a place to socialize and get them into the community as well as an opportunity for their parents to accomplish some everyday tasks on their own. The workshop is located in a community building which houses local sports clubs and meetings, thereby helping to include this group as a real part of the community. This location and their inclusion at markets and festivals has really helped start to change the attitude and acceptance of these children as a real part of this community. Once you have met these children with their smiling faces and determination, you quickly realize that the big winner here is the community itself!