Cherven welcomes guests again
For quite a long time there were no volunteers to come to Cherven children's orphanage. But recently 2 sisters from Ireland came for a 4-week visit to the children.
There are a lot of impressions, but let's see what the girls say:
"With no previous experience of working with children with disabilities and qualified only in hugs and kisses we were extremely nervous about what was to come, but as always we took it in our stride and with big smiles on our faces we stepped into a place that we would soon come to love!
Unit 6, a palliative care unit where the children have severe mental and physical disabilities with some children fed through nasogastric tubes was the first unit we visited. Although the prognosis for most of the children is not good, a simple walk around the grounds, a trip to the multi-sensory room or balloons and bubbles can really brighten up their day and bring life back into the unit. The moment a child smiles at you or uncontrollably laughs when you tickle them with a feather gives you goose bumps. It really is the small things that make such a difference.
Another unit we worked in was Unit 5, made up of young children with mental and physical disabilities. Some can walk and some are confined to their wheelchairs. One particular boy Victor, has Downs syndrome and as a result, a heart defect. Just a couple of months ago, Pasha another boy with the same condition passed away as a result. Victor is the most intelligent little boy in Unit 5 and when you watch him the realisation that he is a ticking time bomb is extremely hard to swallow. We spent our mornings bringing all the children on walks around the grounds and bringing groups to the multi-sensory room both of which they loved.
Unit 4, also known as the crazy walkers, are abled-bodied kids who have more severe mental disabilities. At the beginning we avoided this unit because the bad weather meant they were confined to their unit. However, once outside lots of the children enjoyed interacting. We spent time drawing with chalk, playing with balloons that kept bursting because of the heat, bubbles which wouldn’t work because they shook them and loud music for dancing. They loved it, we only wish we had had the opportunity to do it more often!
Unit 3 was hands down our favourite unit. It is made up of older girls 15-25 with physical or mental disabilities. One major issue is that this unit is located on the third floor where the lifts have been broken for over a year and although now fixed have not yet been certified. The girls had not been outside in a year and a half. One of our favourite days was our picnic in the garden where we brought fifteen of the girls outside and sat under the trees listening to music, painting nails, applying stick-on tattoos and eating sweets, chocolate, and crisps for hours. The happiness of finally leaving their unit was palpable and the effort of carrying the girls in wheelchairs down a flight of stairs rapidly disappeared. We spent hours upon hours colouring with the girls in their unit colouring over 300 pictures during our time there.
The ‘older boys and girls’ were another group that we loved to spend time with, they were Units 8, 9 and 11, able-bodied with slight mental disabilities. We spent hours and hours outside playing tennis, table-tennis, bubbles, chalk, Frisbee, and the cone game. One of the nicest things about this group was their ability to share and play with each other. We brought them to the cinema and had a disco for them, where there were games for them to play too. We soon realised that they may like dancing but there is nothing they love more than to play games where there are chocolate coins at stake. We were also able to do an arts and crafts session with the older girls where we made a poster of all their hand-prints not to mention the thousands of stickers then used to decorate their names that we had written out for them. We also had the opportunity to have tea and biscuits in Unit 8. As with most of the activities we pre-organised there was no water to actually make tea, although it did come back after an hour. As two Irish girls we were more than willing to drink tea allowing the boys to show us their photos albums, drawings and their prized possessions.
There are no words that can truly describe what it is like in Cherven orphanage. There are no words to describe the feeling when you interact with the kids. Such small things like bringing a child for a walk or playing music or buying ice-cream can really bring such happiness. Many hailed us a ‘brilliant’ ‘super’ and ‘amazing’ for giving up our time to volunteer in Cherven and yes it is emotionally draining, physically exhausting and at times heart wrenchingly sad, but every single second is worth it! The truth be told it is the most worthwhile, rewarding experience we have had yet!
Aoife & Rachel"
Check out the photos in the album below