The Trip That Never Was
Easter 2020 was to be the next adventure in Gorodishche. As with previous trips, all of the planning and packing was in full swing when stories from China spoke of a highly contagious virus, but that was China and was really only the flu (wasn't it?). Some weeks later, and just a month before our travel date, everything started to become far more serious, the killer virus was now in Europe.
Initial discussions with Br. Liam suggested that there would be some stringent rules around the travel. N95 masks were orderd, as these were mandatory when travelling through Minsk airport, and it appeared that a Doctor's letter would be required to show that we were all safe and well. But all of this changed dramatically on March 12th when the announcement came that schools were to close; and that Ireland was about to enter some form of lockdown.
The Four Of Us
The travelling group for our 10 days visit was small, we were just four. Joanne and I were to be joined by Lisa (practically our adopted daughter from Mayo) and Gary (a regular visitor but someone neither of us had met). Initial calls and plans were discussed, and we were looking forward to being the second travelling group of 2020 (following Tisha and the transition year students from Mayo).
We had spoken to the groups out in Gorodishche and they were so excited to be welcoming "The Irish" once again, sometimes it doesn't matter who's coming as long as they are Irish!
The party boy - Gary
The birthday girl - Lisa
Learning all about Social Distancing
Easter 2020 came and went, and nobody got to travel to Belarus. In fact, we were unable to leave our homes except for essential travel and to go to the shop for food. Thoughts turned to the safety and welfare of the children in Gorodishche, many of whom would have compromised immune systems anyway. We continued to keep in touch (both here with the small volunteer group and with Tanya and Kyriel in Gorodishche). There was little concern about when we might now travel, thoughts were more on hoping and praying that we might all get through this time and see everyone at some point in the distant future.
A hastily arranged truck loading event to get vital PPE and essential items to Belarus was the closest we came to "being there".
Not all of the news from Belarus was bad at this time. Word went out through the wider volunteer group that that Dima and Svieta were to be married - wait!!! A wedding of two of those that had spent so long in the Orphanage - get out the hats folks, we're about to become embarrassing Aunties and Uncles!.
Photos of the occasion arrived on July 31st, it was truly amazing, the happy couple were positively glowing and Iryna looked like the proud mother (of both the bride and groom strangely).
Something to celebrate - and it was BIG.
The happy couple
The happy couple (with Orphanage Staff)
Lena, Dima, Svieta, and Iryna