Belarus Blog. One last afternoon and then time to leave

Thanks to our wonderful hosts and in particular Inessa’s daughter we had a fabulous tour of the sights and sounds of central Minsk. Too many photos so these just a few. Stunning.

Victory Square and the eternal flame.

The Chapel on the Island of Tears, built by women to remember the fallen Belarusian soldiers who died far away from their homeland.

Inside the Chapel. So beautiful

One of many fountains. She is vair proud of this photo 😀

The National Academic Grand Opera and Ballet Theatre of the Republic of Belarus

Inessa and Alesya leading the way

Our Lillet Spritzes (arf)

And back to Osipovichi by train a two hour journey, no one mention the loo!

And our time in Belarus had come to an end as it was an early start to the airport on Sunday Morning. Which was the Orthodox Easter Day. We’d been given these Easter biscuits as a gift. Beautiful.

This has been an extraordinary trip for us and it’s often been hard to find the words to express our emotions. We’ve met the nicest people going through the most challenging circumstances. Always so warm and friendly, generously welcoming us into their homes and work places. The love and care we have felt is truly something else.

We’ve come away inspired to do the best we can to do more. Seeing the children and families with our blankets, much loved and treasured in their homes was beyond wonderful for us. We hope that together the woolly crew can reach even more children. We are on for an increase this year already!

We’ve been inspired too by the love and devotion at Yasen, the childrens’ centre and at the Baby Home in Minsk where in both settings they maximise what they have in terms of resources, which are very little, but do so with such love, pride and dignity. Very humbling. Very inspiring. We want to help and are thinking on how and where, please watch this space!

We must thank Inessa, Irina, Aleysa and their families for looking after us so well. We’ve met Inessa and Irina before and it was lovely to see them again and meet the others. Valentina too. It was a privilege to meet Alexey, such a wonderful individual. And thanks to Nikolai for getting us around. Thanks too to Andy, Charlie and Our Tel for letting us crash their Bristol CLL visit to Belarus. They are all fabulous people and now great friends too!

So with hearts and minds full and totally exhausted it was time to leave. Check out the crocheted Osipovichi flag we were given at Number 3 school. Real treasure.

Good bye Belarus. We’ll be back!

Little bit worried they’d put us in the wrong row…

Taken of us coming in to Gatwick!

Thank you Belavia!

And lastly, welcome home, this taken by fond family waiting, their peace about to be shattered!

Thank you to everyone who has followed our Blog and for all your wonderful comments, support and enthusiasm. It has all meant the world to us. Thank you so much. xxx

конец

Woolly Hugs 2019.

Belarus Blog. Minsk Baby Home 1

This has been exceptionally hard to articulate and put down in words. We both feel we will be ‘unpacking’ this for a long time to come. But we’ve had a try. xxx

It’s called Minsk Baby Home 1 but it’s so much more than that; it’s a home, hospital, hospice and more recently a respite centre. Not all their babies and children are orphans: Many families need this specialist level of care for their child and live too far away.

We had pushed for this visit despite being advised that it could be harrowing and emotionally challenging, but we wanted to see what we could do to help and to get our blankets to the children.

First we visited their tiny babies, many with various and development issues associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, others severe birth defects. We were positively encouraged to interact, so obviously we were right in there for baby cuddles with their new blankets.

The Home is developing a respite centre with the Government pushing them; its success will come down funding levels. There were two children in the respite area. Both only in for short stays. Both with profound disabilities. Both looking super snug in their blankets. Hope their parents love them.

The palliative care section was wonderfully calm and peaceful place. Children and babies doted on by caring nursing staff. They particularly loved that the blankets were being given to these children. This was a beautiful thing to be able to do.

We found more children throughout our visit.but Everyone was left with a Woolly Hug. Such an amazing thing to be able to do from us all. Gorgeous to see children’s reactions.

n

The Baby Home is a loving place full of dedicated and caring staff. Observing the children’s reactions with staff tells the true story of their relationship. They adore each other. The Home is spotless but clearly runs on a shoe string budget.

Yes this day was exceptionally emotionally tough. No question. But overriding this, we have come away feeling inspired to do more. We must do more. How this will manifest itself will take time to think through.

Apologies if this post is somewhat rambling. We’ve never felt so exhausted. Huge love woollies. The Billie’s Blankets were so very perfect today. Even more so as it was Billie’s anniversary today. Thirteen years on.

Love to Billie’s family from us all. xxx

Belarus Blog. Yasen Social Centre. Friday afternoon

We were totally blown away by Yasen Social Centre. Despite very little funding for anything beyond food, the love and warmth radiates out. Yasen forms a link between families in crisis and the fostering system. Children are here for up to six months whilst support is put in place and they are aged between 3 and 18 years. Older teens can self refer. Because of the nature of what they do the population of the centre is fluid. Helena , who runs the centre, copes with very little support but is inspirational.

The children arrive with nothing so it was wonderful to be able to give Hearty Hearts. This heart was given to an adorable 3 year old; His only personal possession there. Words cannot describe how chuffed he was, nor how emotional we were watching him with his treasure.

We’d asked before what we could take for the children. They’d mentioned Lego, balls, craft kits, and space hoppers! We also took some tiny LED finger lights. It was such a pleasure to treat these children like this.

Do note we’d named the space hoppers after ourselves. Happy Sharpie days!

We left there wondering what more we could do for them.

We got to meet Alexey. ❤️

Alexey is a rather special person as he was the first ever ’Chernob child’ and he visited Surrey. He’s now 33, has his own family and works for the Chernobyl Children’s lifeline based in Minsk. Amazing. He had his own blanket from us as he does so much. A special day to meet Alexey as today is the 33rd anniversary of the devastating Chernobyl nuclear disaster. xxxx

Belarus Blog. They made us run…

Already Friday and today we were off to School Number 3 in Osipovichi to meet more children coming over to Bristol in the summer. How exciting it must be and what a huge step for them and their parents. It’s been great for us to see these preparations at this stage of a visit.

The Headteacher Anatoly gave us a guided tour of the secondary school and was very proud to show us their war museum complete with a huge array of artefacts, photos, posters and books. Warcraft is a school curriculum subject here and we got to meet the teacher Yuri.

Then we’d been asked to join in with an English lesson for a primary class which was about to take place on the field. It’s great for the children to hear English spoken by English speakers

Charlie had given the school the parachute two years ago so fabulous for her to see it so successfully used. So lots of counting, colours, simple instructions, lots of laughing and a game of Duck Duck Goose. Dear Reader, we had to run!!!! And when we had to go against each other a super competitive edge appeared in us we had not known we had 😀

Ooooh and they had this little playhouse on the school field. We want one! Woolly Hugs HQ or maybe one for each project?!