A report from Doug Brendel to all who support or follow our New Thing ministry in Belarus...
Christmas comes but
TWICE A YEAR!
Belarus is a traditionally Orthodox country. On the Orthodox calendar, Christmas and New Year’s Day come 2 weeks later than in the West.
Kristina was representing New Thing in Belarus last week, so she got to enjoy a second helping of both holidays!
At the shelter for abused and abandoned children in Zhodino, north of Minsk, the news was good: only 4 children in the shelter.
Kristina brought toys and candies — and the love of caring friends like you, in America.
New Thing was born here, more than a decade ago, when “The Great Kozovaya” (at right, with second-in-command Lydia Danielevna) suggested we visit this shelter.
The facilities were awful. But over the years, generous friends of New Thing have graciously poured $100,000 into the total renovation of the facilities.
Now directed by Julia Vasilevna (at left), this shelter has become a “jewel of the Republic,” often visited by staff from other children’s shelters across the country.
With the professional staff released from the burdens of fundraising, they were free to dream.
One beautiful result: Domik, or “little house,” an after-school center for at-risk children.
No such thing had ever existed in Belarus before friends of New Thing funded the construction of this place.
The Domik is one big reason there are so few children on the other side of the building, in the shelter for abused children.
It has become a model for other “Domiks” attached to other children’s shelters across the nation.
Before Kristina left, there was a moment of special joy.
Alla Viktorievna, the long-time assistant director (at left), had told her about “carolers” coming to her door on New Year’s Eve wearing masks, according to the Belarusian custom.
They take the masks off after the homeowner gives them treats.
When the masks came off, Alla Viktorievna recognized a boy who used to come to Domik, but had lost his spot this fall.
(The Domik is so popular, more children want to attend than they have room for, so they give priority to the children most at risk, and to younger children.)
Standing there at the door, he cried out, “Can I come back to Domik?”
Alla Viktorievna was delighted to tell him that a space had just opened up and he could start coming again — the perfect Christmas gift!
The day Kristina visited the shelter happened to be the first school day after Christmas vacation, so it was the boy’s first day back to Domik.
He got there late — he’s older than the other kids, and on a big kids’ school schedule — so he missed the gift-giving.
“I had given away all the toys I had,” Kristina says, “but I asked him if he had a warm scarf. From across the room, Alla Viktorievna called out, ‘Nyet!’
Last week I found some warm scarves and picked a couple for just-in-case gifts.
I pulled one out and wrapped it around his neck. The look on Alla Viktorievna’s face told me it would be far more appreciated than a toy!”
More adventures to come!
Thanks for journeying with us!
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