Giving helping hand in Belarus
BY LEO McMAHON
Lucinda Wright from Dunderrow near Kinsale is heading east on this Friday, June 1st, to work with the Belarussian Orphanage Project, a voluntary charity providing support for many years to Novinki Orphanage and the Semashko, Draznia and Viacha Institutions in Minsk, capital of the former Soviet Union state of Belarus.
‘Novinki,’ Lucinda told The Southern Star, ‘is home to over 210 children and Viacha, Drazni and Semashko to over 1,000 children and adults all “differently-abled” and who, due to the rules of government and their disabilities, are generally not allowed to travel out of the country for rest and recuperation holidays in Ireland or in Europe. In any case, it’s better have a large number of volunteers from Ireland travel to Minsk rather than a few residents coming to Ireland or Europe. Locally known as “the forgotten people” many have been residents in institutions for over 17 years without a break.’
This summer over 120 Irish volunteers will travel out in groups to work on a holiday programme for the residents as part of the Spring-Summer Project 2012. After filling out an application form and attending an interview, Lucinda was selected as one of the volunteers to go to Minsk this June. She is going to Minsk for eight days with 16 others whom she met at the two-day training course.
‘We will be giving up our time to provide a quality of life and a break from institutionalisation to the residents, taking them on a variety of excursions and trips to various sights and holiday destinations within their own country and also provide full time recreational care within the orphanages and institutions,’ said 19-year-old Lucinda, a past pupils of Dunderrow national and Kinsale community schools.
‘I decided to apply for this opportunity as I am currently studying Early Years and Childhood Studies in University College Cork and love dealing with children and helping differently-abled people. I have always wanted to travel as a volunteer and give a helping hand to make people's lives better so I believe this will be the start of many volunteering trips for me.
‘I am currently completing my gold Gaisce President’s Award. This award is presented on the basis of a personal challenge involving activities in community involvement, personal skill, physical recreation and an adventure journey. The gold award requires at least an hour a week in three of the areas for 52 weeks and an adventure covering 80-110km walking over four days. I have previously been awarded my bronze (13 weeks) and silver (26 weeks) awards. A special requirement for the gold award is that you also participate in a residential project for at least five days. My volunteering trip to Minsk with the Belarussian Orphanage Project is very suitable for this area so it is bringing me closer to achieving my gold award.
‘I am really looking forward to my trip and hope to put many smiles on the residents’ faces,’ said Lucinda, daughter of Betty and Finbarr Wright, Dunderrow and a member of Kinsale Ladies’ Football Club, who took the opportunity to thank everyone who supported her successful fundraising coffee morning in Kinsale recently.
More information on the Belarussian Orphanage Project can be found at www.bop.ie or by contacting Lucinda Wright at 087-7505125. Donations are most welcome.
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