Before we give you some more information on our initiatives to help the physically, mentally and medically challenged, let me give you an update on our food box program.
At this point we have had donations to cover the cost of 340 out of the 600 food boxes we targeted. Based on this number we made a decision to go ahead and purchase groceries for all 600. We are getting close to having to ship our containers so the food boxes needed to be packed. Last evening a great group of enthusiastic volunteers arrived at the warehouse. Members of both the Brockville Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of the 1000 Islands were out as well as many other friends of CAC.
In a little less than 1-1/2 hours all 600 boxes were packed and ready to go! There are still 260 boxes available for donations or delivery to a specific family, just make a $50 donation to help someone in dire need!
You will notice in our initiatives, and often in presentations we use the word “invalid” when referring to our friends with mental, physical or medical challenges. This is because in Belarus this type of labeling still continues to this day. We have put in place several programs that are having a great impact, not only directly helping these people, but also helping to change the attitude of the people of the region.
Over and above helping with the food box packing every year, the two local Rotary Clubs have supported CAC since 1996. In recent years Rotary’s focus has been providing funds for children with mental and physical challenges as well as juvenile diabetics. Yes, in Belarus you are considered “invalid” even with a treatable condition such as diabetes! This year the Rotary Clubs have provided a medical fund of $5,000 to be used for medicines, medical supplies, surgery or improvement to quality of life. There are 160 families with physically, mentally or medically challenged children currently registered. Thank you Rotarians for making a tremendous difference in the lives of these children!
We also continue to support this local Organization for Invalid Children by funding a small storage area where they store the aid that we deliver each year. Everything from clothing and footwear, to household items, diapers, wheelchairs, commodes and other items to help make these families lives a little easier. This storage space costs $1,000 USD per year for rent, heat and electricity which still needs to be raised.
A huge positive force in the lives of these children and young adults is our “Social Workshop”. Located in the center of Chausy in a former school, it offers a classroom environment and interaction with other children. This is a wonderful opportunity to support our vision to integrate children with challenges into society. Our kids are busy making crafts, carving wood, sewing as well as selling their creations at local markets and fairs. CAC is responsible for the classroom expenses, heat and electricity. The city authorities are responsible for providing the psychologist. $3,900 is still needed for this project.
In 2010, CAC partnered with Don and Shirley Green and successfully purchased a mini van for the Organization for Invalid Children. This has now made it possible for many children living in the rural areas the opportunity to attend daycare as well as our social workshop / learning care facility in Chausy. This van requires $5,000 in annual operating expenses and approximately $2,000 in repairs. This vehicle is now aging and will need to be replaced in the near future. We would need $17,000 – $20,000 to accomplish this.
Some of our most rewarding days in Belarus are spent with the children in this program. The heartfelt appreciation from the parents is amazing, but you just can’t beat the smile of pride on the face of that child or young adult when sharing their accomplishments!