A report from Doug Brendel to all who support or follow our New Thing ministry in Belarus...
Physically, mentally: somewhat disabled ... but spiritually?
We returned to one of my favorite places....
It’s the “Belarusian Association for Support of Disabled Children and Young People,” in the town of Dzerzhinsk.
Here, the mothers of children with disabilities enjoy mutual support.
In many cases, the fathers of these families — succumbing to the cultural stigma of disability — have abandoned them.
But this is always a happy place ... and it’s even better when you bring an American jazz singer.
Singer Vicki McDermitt is on her second visit to Belarus. I was eager to introduce her to my friends here in Dzerzhinsk.
Vicki presented a mini-concert of American jazz. Little Masha couldn’t resist getting into the act. I provided the essential air guitar.
“It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing....”
Vicki taught the audience to sing the doo-wop-de-wop part.
One of the moms performed a few Belarusian numbers — that’s when Yulia and Zhenya couldn’t resist getting up to dance.
Zhenya didn’t know quite what to make of it when a rival cut in.
But he was a good sport about it. And Yulia was clearly happy with the outcome!
Svyeta invited her son Artuom to perform a number with her.
The hilariously irrepressible Masha jumped in here too!
Ira (pronounced eerah), a dedicated young poet, has studied English for 8 years.
She performed one of her works for us. I loved it. And Mama was proud!
Then came the hard part. There’s nothing I do worse than dancing.
Unfortunately for me, in Belarus, dancing is a group sport.
The shot on the right needs a thought balloon: “How did I get myself into this?”
Vicki seemed to have no trouble getting into the swing of it.
Pretty soon, Yulia cut loose. Then it was fun to just sit and watch!
And when Yulia invited Masha to join in, things got really crazy!
Yes, the burdens are heavy on these families, financially and emotionally, especially in a culture that traditionally hides the disabled.
But your love is making a difference.
Through our “Response of the Heart” team in Minsk, we provide a steady supply of humanitarian aid to this group.
And our visits seem to be a highlight of their social calendar!
We also had the privilege of publishing Look at Us, a book of photo portraits by our New Thing photographer Oleg Yarovenko, to help the group spread their message: Our children are human beings too.
“We give the books out like business cards!” says Director Alla (at left, with “The Great Kozovaya”) — and the book is making a real impact.
I am deeply grateful to all who support New Thing.
You’re helping our “Response of the Heart” team to reach out to the “joy-enabled” of Belarus!
More photos to come.
Thanks for journeying with us!
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