Open Letter

Dear Iryna (and all our friends in Gorodishche),

Hello from Ireland, wishing you all health and happiness at this crazy time for the World! We will try to send you this message in a mix of English (for Iryna to translate for you) and Russian (from Google, this may not work so well!).

We had planned to be with you all in April 2020, but the World had other ideas, it has now been 18 months since we visited you there.

Технологии прекрасны, и мы смогли поддерживать с вами связь в это трудное время.

We have spent much of the past 12 months in various types of lockdown in Ireland. The virus has put a lot of pressure on our (very underfunded) health system and the Government has decided that keeping many of us at home is the best way to prevent the further spread of the virus.

So, what is lockdown Irish style? I have been going to work in our local school for some of the time. As I look after children with special needs, these have been given priority as the country has been through lockdown and reopening. Don has been working from home for almost all of the past 12 months (he moved into a new job at the local Airport on April 1st last year). We are limited in how far we can travel from our homes (this is set at 5km presently) and all of our pubs and restaurants have been practically closed for the past year.

Для нас, ирландцев, отсутствие возможности пойти в паб или ресторан - это действительно большая жертва!

People are now being vaccinated in Ireland (our parents have received their first dose) so we are seeing the possibility of more of the country being opened in the coming months (slowly I expect).

Truck 117

Но все это время мы были чем-то заняты!

We have been in Ennistymon a number of times to get truckloads of clothes and PPE to Belarus (I know that one of these trucks was going to Gorodishche).

This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago where a small group gathered (you can see that everyone must wear masks and stay apart – even when outdoors).

Мы очень скучаем по вам и с нетерпением ждем, когда снова сможем посетить Беларусь.

We are in contact with Tanya (Group 4) and Kirill (now in Damačava) and are so glad that things are going reasonably well there in Belarus. It is great to hear and see them through social media. This will never replace the power of a physical hug though; we miss everyone so much. Please God we will see a change in things as time progresses into the summer.

Our own children are now men, DJ aged 23 years old last week, Adam will be 21 in November, and Cian will be 19 in May, sharing the same birthday as Don (the best present I could give him was a son for his birthday). DJ is a musician so hasn’t been performing since last year, Adam is a barber, his salon has closed for long durations and Cian is a musician too, but he is working part-time in a local garage as his music studio is closed during lockdown.

We haven’t seen much of our friends, we call them on zoom or phone, we cannot socialise, this is extremely difficult, but we will get through this. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you all in the orphanage, thank you to all the wonderful staff who are sacrificing so much to keep everyone safe and well. I’m sure everyone is trying their best to cope with the situation.

Хотим сказать огромное СПАСИБО всему коллективу детского дома. Вам придется быть «ирландцем», пока мы не вернемся, чтобы быть со всеми вами.

We’ll be back as soon as we can

So, what will we do when this is all over? We’ve got a long list of places to visit and people to see, Gorodishche and all of you are on the top of that list. But it’s not clear yet when that might be (hopefully before the end of 2021). We look forward to: -

  • Big hugs from Iryna and Tamara as we arrive at Minsk Airport, driving excitedly through Belarus with Yura as our trusted navigator (but Don will have to sit in the back!)

  • Going to Group 1 to meet all our friends, dance and play music with my’a Nadia, hugs with Galia and maybe a song or two in exchange for pumpkin seeds.

  • Having discos and board games with all of the boys in Group 2 (where Vova will see if we can get him extra coffee and Maxim will try to break our legs on the football field). Loving our precious time in the evening with our boys.

  • Visiting all of our friends in beds and cots in group 3, especially Nastia, Sergei, and Tanya (“Hello”), Don arriving early for the morning feeds while I prepare goodies and games for the day ahead.

  • Spending evenings singing and chatting with Tanya, Lida, Vasalina, Sergei, Natasha and Alla, and all of the others in Group 4 (while Alosha sings “It’s A Long Way To Tipperary”, “Up de Banna”)

  • Being jumped on, and dancing with, all of the beautifully wild ones in Group 5 (and checking that Sergei and Vika are still the King and Queen of strength in the group)

  • Sitting and drinking tea in the Art & crafts room with Anya and her bustling beauties

  • Getting lots of photos taken with Vika in Group 6 (“foto, foto, foto”)

  • Playing the guitar with Mischa in Group 7 and singing along to Nensi

  • Having tea with Vitalek, Paulina, Alosha, Vanya, Natasha, Lonya, Lisa and Veronika in the evening times (maybe in the new house) while playing games, having the laughs and sorting out the world.

  • Visiting the shops in the village to buy them out of sweets and treats (but we’re still not going to buy that chicken!)

  • Going to the local park and supply the children with enough sugar for the walk home again, playing games beside the bandstand – weather depending.

  • Going on a day trip (maybe) to Damačava to see how Kirill and Yura are getting on

  • Going to eat Pizza at Prego Pizza in Minsk on our way home where we talk all about our visit and plan our next one, shed a few tears, have a few drinks and laugh before an early night.

  • И особенно там, где мы можем быть со всем персоналом, который с нами (в наших мыслях и молитвах) каждый день.

Until we see you all again, Keep Smiling and Keep Singing – Oh Ya Ya

Пока мы не увидим вас снова, продолжайте улыбаться и продолжайте петь – O Я Я