On July 28th, “THESE ARE OUR CHILDREN” charity movement, together with Belarusian Federation of Sailing organized another memorable event for children: Two hour boat trip, delicious lunch, and organized activities brought smiles on children’s faces and gave memories to cherish for a life time.
Each of us remembers at least one special event in life. Often it is a childhood memory that we treasure the most. Perhaps, as you think about it, it brings you positive emotions, whether because it was your first encounter with the sea, first time cycling on your own or first visit to a local circus. Everyone’s memory is different, but it is equally warm and comforting, which definitely brings a smile to your face. Now imagine that you are a member of an orphanage, a boarding institution for children, where you may not be able to have as many of these experiences that are so special to us.
It definitely gets you thinking, and now you are probably wondering how you can brighten up the life of those children and provide them with a childhood to remember. Do you agree? Three young women thought so, when they decided to work together to organize the Belarusian charity movement “These Are Our Children”. Through this organization, they work hard to make a difference and bring more color to these children’s lives. We got a chance to chat with Aleksandra Hvoinickaya, Veronica Piletskaya and Elena Lvovich, the founders of the movement. We found out what took place during the last event they organized, and whether they are planning to continue to conduct such visits. Here is what we discovered.
What are your feelings about all the events that have already taken place?
Veronica P.: Every encounter with the children is very special. It is not just an event, it is much more. Just imagine how many children we got to know over the years and how many new friends we have made! Many children are literally growing before our eyes. To us they have long became more like family. Do you think it is possible to have any negative impressions over close people? Don’t think so! It does not matter if we are visiting the children or take them somewhere else, it is important that we are all happy and looking forward to each meeting to share the latest news and successes of each other.
Aleksandra H.: Personal contact with a child is the most important one. Each child, leaving the walls of his/her “home”, enters a completely new, unknown world. It is important that the children understand that they are not different from other children, they simply are living in a different environment, a much more closed or even isolated environment. When we communicate with them, we talk on equal terms. If I may say so, members of our friendly movement prepare children for adulthood. Therefore it is so important for us to take them out to the big cities, entertainment centers and other locations, as to them it seems to be another world, which is strange and unfamiliar. What is truly amazing, is how many people are willing to help us do that!
On July 28th, you organized a “sea adventure” for children from Rudenskaya boarding institution. How did it all happen?
Aleksandra H.: To begin with, I would proudly say that it was simply amazing! Thanks to the Belarusian Federation of Sailing we were able to offer a real sea adventure to the children. And you know, the most remarkable thing was that the federation immediately, without any hesitation, had agreed to organize such a wonderful event for them. Yes, the children had a fantastic time, but so did we! Just imagine, we had two luxury yachts at our disposal, which rolled us all out to the Minsk Sea. Isn’t it great?! We even had two skippers!
Veronica P.: I think it is not necessary to describe children’s emotions while riding the yachts. It is understandable. Best part was that the event continued after the ride. After the two hour trip they were offered an incredible lunch. The bar counter was set up with fresh lemonade, muffins, cakes, and variety of fruits. To sum it up, due to the efforts of numerous volunteers, that day turned out to be incredible. And we can not put into words our appreciation for all the help!
Elena L.: Of course, we were not only lazing around stuffing our bellies. After the delicious lunch, we played games on the beach. Remember this game, “Ali Baba! What is servant for? “ Despite the unbearable heat that day, we had fun and played until it was time to go back. The day was filled with activities, fun and laughter!
And how do you think the children felt about the event?
Veronica P.: In the beginning, it was a bit difficult for some children. But they got adjusted very quickly. It certainly helped that they have known us for a long time. We offered our full support to our little friends, told them jokes, chatted, and they quickly regained confidence.
Elena L.: We realize it is likely to be stressful for children to be taken out from their familiar environment. We understand and support them to our best ability, especially during the first moments of any event. And this time, it was not just a tour or a trip to an entertainment center. It was a real adventure on the yachts, the open water, nature. In one word – freedom.
Alexander H.: Frankly speaking, the children seemed to be overwhelmed with positive emotions. Especially after the instructions had been given by the captain, lifejackets had been buttoned up on each one of them, and the boat had begun to gradually move away from the shore. Their facial expressions were priceless. Do you remember your first most vivid impression when you are in the euphoria state of what is happening to you and around you? The children were standing with their mouths opened witnessing the process. Emotions were genuine, the ones only children can express.
When did you start organizing such events, and what event was the first?
Veronica P.: It had been almost three years since we started visiting various orphanages, boarding institutions, and other venues in Belarus. We always used to bring a big group of friends with us. Our aim was to share more joy, laughter and positive emotions through entertainment, various performances, sports games, colorful shows, and many other things. We not only visited them, but often spent a full day to ensure every child gets our attention.
Elena L.: And then we thought, it would be a good idea to do something different, at least once in a while, and take children somewhere else. After all, it is no secret that a lot of people come to visit children in orphanages, and for them it is always something incredible. However, to bring them somewhere different is not a common practice. We had shared this idea with members of our movement, and everyone supported us. And now we thank those caring people who help us make it happen, giving children an opportunity to see more in life.
Alexandra H.: The first trip we had organized was with children from Begoml boarding institution. First, we had contacted the managers of the city Dolphinarium and gotten into the meeting with them immediately. We were given permission to bring 50 children, and we watched a beautiful dolphin show, presented gifts and spent time together. It was bringing tears to our eyes realizing how many times children had said “Thank you!” with the most genuine attitude. And it served as a final proof that we should continue organizing trips like that.
What is the duration of these trips?
Alexandra H.: Trips usually last for about four hours. This is time spent with children, excluding the commute. Sometimes we carry children from as far as 100 kilometers from the destination. Those four hours are enough time to actively spend it with children and not tire them. Children’s age varies from 5 to 20, and it is important to adjust to each one of them.
Do you plan to organize more events like that in the future?
Veronica P.: Absolutely! But what exactly is it going to happen next time, it is yet hard to tell. Trips are generally planned and finalized for about a month. In any case, we always publish our news a few weeks from the confirmed day of the trip, whether it is us bringing children to the city or visiting them instead. You can see all the updates on our social media channels. Also, absolutely anyone can join us! We always welcome new members. It is great to see that each year more people are willing to share a part of themselves with children who need our love, care and attention. Because the most important in the world are OUR CHILDREN!
For more information about the charity movement “These Are Our Children”, please visit https://www.facebook.com/etoNASHIdety/ or follow them on Instagram @eto_nashi_deti
Interview by Tatsiana Chykhayeva