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Boarding school for retarded children in Navinki.

Retarded children boarding school is situated on the outskirts of Minsk, in the village of Navinki. It currently houses 212 children. Of them, 24 kids are under 7, 117 kids fall in the 7 to 18 age bracket category, and 70 inmates are beyond 18. Many children suffer from cerebral palsy, Dawn disease, hydrocephaly and other grave illnesses. For the most part it is a result of immoral life of their parents who conceive a baby under the influence of alcohol. Partly however such disease develops in the result of birth trauma. Deputy Director Galina Vladzimiravna (photo, left) knows the story of each inmate. She says, “Many of the kids are unable to tell anything, they are forgetful and easily get frightened, but at the same time they are amazingly inventive in some areas”.

Misha is 20 (photo, right). He was brought here 7 years ago. He has parents who live in Minsk. He had had a record-player, but it is now broken, and Misha dreams of a new one.

Outdoors we met Mary Jacob, a volunteer from Germany. She was playing with Liosha (photo, left) swinging him on the teeterboard. Liosha suffers from autism. Afraid of everybody, he withdraws into himself and lives in his own isolated world. Mary is a Christian having a kind heart, and her love breaks these barriers, and the boy feels comfortable beside Mary. She is a member of the Lutheran church in Germany, and she had already visited Belarus in the past. This time she has come to stay for a year with the kids. There are three persons from Germany here in all. I explained Mary the aim of my visit and told her about the books I’ve brought. Christian ABC and the album for coloring will be helpful for working with such children.

Visiting the hospital ward for cerebral palsy children especially grieves me - it is painful to see poor kids suffering so badly.

This girl (photo on the right) has hydrocephaly, and is unable to get out of bed. Another girl has a big swell resulted from haematoma, and she is fed through a feeding tube.

Pasha and Roma (photo on the left) are friends, they are both 20. Even though they can hardly speak, they are good and clever boys loving jigsaw puzzles, says Galina Vladzimiravna. It would be good to present them with Christian puzzle-books.

The second floor is occupied by older boys. There are many of them, and they are thickly settled due to lack of space. Their nurse, Natalya Arkadyevna from the nearby Orthodox parish (photo on the right), reads Christian books and prayers to the children, and teaches them to pray to God. She was very glad to learn that the book stock will how have more Christian literature she will use when talking to children.

Leaving this children home, I had thought how incredibly difficult it is to get across to the minds and hearts of these kids, and yet God works through those who put their hearts and souls into what they do. I saw such people today. Galina Vladzimiravna, Mary Jakob, Natalya Arkadyevna- through their dedication and love we believe God will touch the hearts of the little ones.

Anatoly Hreben,
Charitable Projects Department Officer