A report from Doug Brendel to all who support or follow our New Thing ministry in Belarus...
Kristina’s last stop:
The moms want to talk...
The final “official” event of Kristina’s two-week sojourn in Belarus was a visit to a flat in Dzerzhinsk.
This is the district where our “Response of the Heart” team provides aid to the Association for Support of Families With Disabled Children.
(The book of their photo-portraits, which supporters of New Thing helped us publish last year, is available here.)
Zhenya lives here with her mother and grandparents (and one classy cat).
The flat has been reconfigured to accommodate her wheelchair, with wide doors, and grab bars in the bathroom.
Zhenya’s grandparents saved for years to be able to afford this unusual flat.
Zhenya was eager to show Kristina photographs from a concert she appeared in.
Kristina gave Zhenya and the moms Vicki McDermitt’s Jazz for the Soul CD, which we’ve widely distributed in Belarus.
(Vicki has visited Belarus with us, and her “Music Serving the Word” ministry has contributed generously to New Thing.)
Kristina also gave gift copies of For Love, the book of her photographs from the Dead Zone around Chernobyl.
Kristina and I have both visited the Association at their official facilities, where we’ve met most if not all of the children.
But on this day, the moms wanted Kristina to themselves, for an extended conversation.
It was eye-opening.
“The problems faced by the single moms are tremendous,” Kristina reports.
Why are they single? Because the stigma of disability is so intense in this culture.
In most cases, once a child is diagnosed with a disability, the father abandons the family.
In fact, only in the past five years have the schools of the Dzerzhinsk district begun integrating disabled kids into regular classes.
New Thing is helping to change the negative perceptions about disabled children here.
Our release of the photo-portrait book Look at Us was a big step in this direction.
The mothers, left alone, must stay home with their children. The state responds by providing a stipend.
Also, sadly, doctors in the outlying “regional” hospitals are often not experienced enough to catch problems at birth which, if treated immediately, could have been largely corrected.
Through the Association, launched by Alla (right) about 15 years ago, the mothers support each other emotionally, and help each other find resources to care for their kids.
Their connection with our “Response of the Heart” team, headed by “The Great Kozovaya” (right) and Lydia Danielevna (left), has been a godsend for the moms.
We’re providing humanitarian aid. Actually, you’re providing humanitarian aid.
We just have the joy of going there, and taking pictures for you.
Thank you for loving people with us!
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