‘A single toy, one bar of chocolate, brings smiles to their faces’

Children in an orphanage in Belarus are once again to benefit from the generosity of people in the Newbridge, Ballygar, Mountbellew and Moylough areas.    Last weekend a major consignment of materials left Newbridge for Belarus as the local community maintains its tradition in recent years of coming to the aid of stricken children there.    The lorry which left Newbridge contained about €50,000 worth of goods. About €30,000 worth were sponsored, with the remainder purchased following fund-raising ventures.    This September a group of about fifteen people will leave Newbridge for Begomt in Belarus, and work on two major projects in an orphanage there: the provision of a new toilet block and the construction of a ‘half-way house’, or self-contained apartment, for twelve children.    This wonderful community initiative is being orchestrated by the East Galway Friends of North Belarus committee, whose chairperson is Sean Gavin.    Sean explained to the Roscommon People that locals have been working on this and related projects over the past four years or so.    It all began when a few people in the East Galway area accompanied a group from Offaly to Belarus; later the local committee was formed.    Sean explained that the group who will travel to Belarus on a voluntary basis in September will spend a week working there. They’ll build a self-contained apartment from 12 children in the orphanage – living room, kitchen and toilets – and also provide new toilets for the 180 or so kids who are in the orphanage at any one time (they don’t have running water presently).    The children destined for the self-contained area will spend time there before being ‘released’ into the community once they reach a certain age, without further care.    Sean told the People that it’s a harrowing experience to witness the life these children are living. Many of the kids ended up in the orphanage in Begomt because of the Chernobyl disaster, while alcoholism and depression afflict parents to a dreadful degree in the region.    Needless to say the generosity of the visitors from Ireland means a huge amount. ‘Last year when we went we provided new beds and a toy each for the children and they all hugged and kissed us