Let me tell you about a little boy named Sergei Grishin, a 7 year old Orphan living in Ivenets school for children with special needs. I first met Sergei last August when I travelled to Cherven orphanage as a general volunteer with The Burren Chernobyl Project, which is where he was living at the time.
Sergei is one of 7 children and has a twin brother, he is not aware of this as they are living in different Orphanages in Belarus. His Mother & Father are alive but are unable or unwilling to care for him, or his siblings. Back home in Ireland this would be considered a devastating story, unfortunately here in Belarus its an all too familiar one.
He is an autistic child, as far as I am aware from speaking to other Volunteers and Staff from the Orphanage it was far more severe just a couple of years ago and has improved in time with the help of Dr. Maria Kolesnik in Cherven Orphanage who has done a lot for him. He is unable to speak and has no direct form of communication to others, although it can be a misconception to think he is not intelligent. From being around him, I have noticed the concentration in his eyes, when he is looking around the room, he is taking note of everything that he can see.
A carer from Cherven Orphanage had filled me in on everything. She told me about his walking, Sergei loves to walk but can only do so if you hold his hands for support. She told me that in her knowledge, he can probably walk if he has surgery. I didn't need to think about this, how good would it feel to see that kid walk and know I had a part in it? As soon as I arrived home in Ireland last August, we got to work. First thing we needed to do, was arrange for Ivenets to take him to the Orthopedic Clinic in Minsk for a consultation. The specialists in the clinic had confirmed that he was suitable for a Tendon Release and that would make his situation much better. They confirmed his Surgery date to be 9th of January.
So 5 months have past, and here we are, in the School that Sergei lives. He has had surgery almost 2 weeks ago and now, I haven't noticed him so happy as he is these days. Even with two heavy plaster casts on his legs, he has turned it into fun, using them as drums at times. I am so pleased with the School he is staying in, Staff & Directors here show a genuine love to the eighty something kids that live here. They make great use out of their facilities they have which is wonderful. We are here now until February 13th, when we return to the Orthopedic Clinic in Minsk to have the casts removed. We will then spend a few weeks in a Rehabilitation Centre & return to Ivenets, where they will continue physiotherapy and such.
This is my story so far, I have been here in Belarus only 3 weeks, but a lot has happened and I'm excited to see what the next few weeks hold. There is nothing more rewarding then helping others, and there are many children in Belarus who need help, and all over the world. Have you got Experience? The Language? If you do, Great!! But these are not the things you need to be a General Volunteer, you need Heart & Soul, Strength and the ability to connect with the children. Everything else will come to you, sure, there are things I have needed to do that I have never done before, but the people here teach me new things every day and I appreciate that greatly. So if you are interested to do something like this, I say follow your heart and go for it!
A big thanks to all the team at Dobra tut / Burren Chernobyl who have supported me, especially Liam O'Meara & Alena Martsyanava who have made this trip possible & of course to everyone at home who has supported me, without your support I could not be here doing this.