New Thing is your love in action, inside the former Soviet Union
A report from Doug Brendel to all who support or follow New Thing in Belarus...
For children abused or abandoned...
Love is a HAIRCUT!
When I visited Belarus a few weeks ago, we didn’t have “Zhdanovichi” (pronounced ZHDON-uh-vee-chee) on our schedule, but then we got some neat news:
Anton, the amazing barber — whose team has started giving free haircuts to people in need all over Minsk — was coming to the shelter for abused and abandoned children there!
So we made a detour to see the stylists in action again.
(Interpreter Lyena, photographer Oleg, and me in the back seat en route.)
The shelter can handle up to 32 children at once; they had 15 in residence the day we visited.
Some were in school at the moment. (Minsk schools operate in shifts to handle crowding.)
The children were so delightful, I was grateful that we got there ahead of Anton and his team so we could enjoy some playtime!
Oleg has a magical way with children.
(He showed Liza and Katya how far Zhdanovichi is from Massachusetts.)
“The Great Kozovaya” always sees to it that I have candies to give away.
A grandma in real life, Kozovaya adores — and is adored by — children everywhere we go.
I drew cartoon portraits for some of the children, but my work didn’t hold up well against these accomplished artists!
Paulina showed me up with her cool penguin.
Olga tolerated my nonsense, but then set to work doing some real artwork.
I was aghast to find only a single working toilet — imagine the shelter at its 32-kid capacity with only 1 toilet — and no hot water.
But because friends of New Thing had been generous, we were able to fund 2 new toilets and a new water-heater immediately.
(Special thanks to all who give spontaneously, without being asked! These were your gifts to the abused and abandoned children of Zhdanovichi!)
Director Lyena is cheerful and hard-working. It’s clear that she and her staff suffuse this place with love.
(For a bit of fun playtime video, click the dancing Liza or the jumping Katya.)
It was clear that the children need it, as Lyena told us bits of their background stories.
Sometimes parents are unemployed — often due to alcohol or drugs — and can’t pay the rent.
Once they’re homeless, the authorities may bring their children here.
Two boys (not pictured in this report) arrived so hungry that they commandeered all the bread on the table.
One little guy (also not pictured) was locked in a closet — by his own mother — for 3 days, without food.
“But I didn’t cry!” he reported valiantly.
My heart broke to hear it.
The children had been eagerly anticipating their haircuts all day....
So when Anton and his team arrived, they were thrilled!
Here’s 40 seconds or so of Cyril and Olga during and after their haircuts.
(Cyril got a cool Z over his right ear!)
(Veronica didn’t care for the camera too much.)
Cyril, Masha, and little Katya had varying degrees of ill ease about the razors and scissors....
But they loved the results!
(To see 50 seconds or so of Katya, Liza, Cyril, and Masha showing off their new looks, click the foursome.)
It all began thanks to friends like you supporting our soup kitchen for the homeless, where Anton and his team were first invited by our “Response of the Heart” team.
Your love is like dominoes! Thank you!
More adventures to come!
Thanks for journeying with us!
Photos by our dear friend Oleg Yarovenko
To give online — click here
To send a check by snail mail — New Thing, 403 Linebrook Road, Ipswich MA 01938