Tough Times in Belarus!

This being a weekend we are really starting to clear out the gym and get many of the family parcels delivered or picked up.  It is amazing to see the different methods that some people use to collect their packages.  Here a family uses a small 2 wheeled garden tractor and a wagon to take theirs home.


The more time we spend here the more apparent it becomes that the people here are in difficult shape financially, it really is a crisis.  When I first came to Belarus 10 years ago the Belarusian Ruble was worth just over 3,000 to the US Dollar, this year it takes 20,000 Belarusian Rubles to buy just 1 US Dollar!

All of the delegates spent the day traveling around the countryside delivering parcels.  We have a large group in Mogilev as there are many packages headed there.  I went in a vehicle with Shaunon and Annis headed to the Dribin region to deliver to four families.  The first stop was a home that is obviously in very dire straits.  Here is a picture of the outside of the home.


The young girl and her mother were thrilled to get the box.


Nine people sleep in this one room and it is obvious that it is a daily struggle to survive.  Note Grandma (Baboushka) on top of the petchka in the background.  The petchka is an old fashioned masonary heater that uses a small wood fire to heat the mass.  It is very normal to see the grandmother sleeping on top to keep warm.  This is the only heat this house has, no indoor plumbing and no running water … 9 people!


Our second stop was to drop off some packages to a girl who used to come to Brockville in the summer.  Now Natasha is married and has a baby of her own.


Our last stop on this run was to see Katya, a young girl who has come to Canada several times over the past few years.  Here we see her with her Grandmother and Canadian host Shaunon who is also CAC’s treasurer.  Katya is currently attending a culinary school in a village a couple of hours away but was home for the weekend.


Most families have a garden to help provide food and many have already started planting.  Even small apartment buildings like this one in a village have garden plots for each apartment.  Here the potatoes were being planted.


The daffodils have already started to bloom.


And apparently in Belarus the cats grow on trees!


Back at the gym/warehouse the boxes are moving pretty quickly.  Our interpreters continually call families to see if they are home and our drivers and delegates head out to deliver the packages.


Last run of the day, Margaret and I headed to Antonavka to deliver boxes to a young family where we met up with Artyom zooming around on his “seatless” tricycle.  No seat, but he could really make it go!


Artyom (6) and his sister Liza (7) live with their Mom, Elena and twin 5 year old girls.  Currently the twins are in the hospital with tonsilitis.  Mom works on the local collective pig farm to try to make ends meet while raising 4 children between 5 & 7 alone!


These children were both very cheerful and well behaved and Elena was extremely thankful for the help that we brought and we left after a heartfelt hug and kiss of appreciation.  We realized that this is another great family that can use as much help as possible.  Tomorrow we will go through a few of the extra boxes of clothing and items that we brought and see if we can’t pull together a few more things to help out.  I will keep you posted!

Eric McKenzie

5 thoughts on “Tough Times in Belarus!

  1. Dr. Sydney Price- Sparling

    Your devotion, hard work and generosity of spirit are a flame of hope and seeds for a future. Thank you.

  2. Dr. Sydney Price- Sparling

    Your dedication, committed work and generosity of spirit are a flame of hope. .. seeds falling into grateful hands. Thank you. Dr. Sydney Price- Sparling

  3. Margie McKenzie

    It is heartbreaking to see some of the living conditions and poverty.
    Hugs all round to the delegates for your amazing dedication and compassion.

  4. Tara

    What a great thing you guys are doing… And people here in Canada complain when things get tough….. They have it ready compared to some of these families.

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