A report from Doug Brendel to all who support or follow our New Thing ministry in Belarus...
Your COMPASSION gives cause for
Children with mental or physical disabilities used to be largely hidden from view in Belarus.
But that’s changing!
Some 15 years ago, our friend Alla (left), in the Dzerzhinsk district outside Minsk, decided that her disabled son should not be relegated to the shadows; he should be just as free to accompany her to the market as any other child — and in fact, any disabled child should be treated like a child too.
To promote this breakthrough concept, she established the Association for Support of Families With Disabled Children, and organized an annual “Light Your Star” festival, a kind of talent show designed to give every child an opportunity to be a celebrity.
The association — and the festival — were tiny in the beginning ... but the movement grew.
Today, 15 years later, a number of towns have similar associations — and “Light Your Star” is a huge annual event.
Our “Response of the Heart” team, led by “The Great Kozovaya” (left), has helped the Dzerzhinsk families with humanitarian aid over the years.
This is crucial help, because so many fathers abandon their families when a disabled child arrives.
Besides funding humanitarian aid, New Thing published Look at Me, a beautiful book of family portraits, which has gone far toward promoting the cause of disabled children in Belarus.
The festival is now attended each year by dignitaries, and covered by the Belarusian press.
A pair of clowns opened the festival with a funny sketch, then served as emcees.
There’s an art show and competition — complete with awards — and featuring truly outstanding work.
At awards time, I was honored to be invited to serve as one of the presenters.
“Our kids” from Dzerzhinsk made a great showing! (Maria posed for a serious shot with her mom Vanda, but couldn’t keep her real emotions under wraps for long!)
After the awards ceremony, there was a lively talent show.
The organizers find ways for young people to participate regardless of their disabilities.
This young man (in a funny sketch about a chicken) was rescued from the shadows by the work of the Association.
Despite his physical limitations, he serves as a leader today.
These children have a childhood, thanks to the unique work of the Association.
They’re not living in the shadows, like something to be ashamed of.
They’re growing up with a very different message: You have value.
Your generous support of New Thing is helping to faithfully communicate this life-giving message.
More adventures to come!
Thanks for journeying with us!
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