Social ministry of St.Elisabeth Convent in the community: The land of childhood project


SOCIAL MINISTRY OF ST ELISABETH CONVENT IN THE COMMUNITY
THE LAND OF CHILDHOOD PROJECT

The land of childhood... Is there anything more bright and pure than a smile of a child?.. Unfortunately, there are young martyrs - the disabled children - who are in desperate need of love and motherly care, like no one else in the world.

The Sisterhood in honour of the Holy Martyr Grand Princess Elisabeth and St.Elisabeth Convent have cared for children who stay in health and social facilities for many years, namely:


·           Special boarding school No. 7 (for mentally challenged children)
·           Centre of social rehabilitation of children
·           Child unit of the National Psychiatric Clinic


Apart from care and spiritual help, the Convent carries out a number of projects aimed at the improvement of the living conditions for the children and at their social and medical rehabilitation. These projects include supply of medicines and hygiene kits, establishment of creative workshops, rehabilitation programmes, recreation, hitch-hiking trips, attending theatres and concerts.

The boarding home for mentally challenged children is located not far from the Convent. The children have various diagnoses - Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, birth traumas, congenital physical disabilities and accompanying splanchnopathies. There are about two hundred children who stay in this boarding home. Many of them were abandoned by their parents.

The children are sincere and open, they can wholeheartedly hug a person they see for the first time and are willing to share their love with everyone. They easily discern the other person’s mood and begin to comfort him if he is sad and depressed. There is a number of bedridden children in the boarding home for whom the time has stopped. Sad though it is to see their suffering, one can still feel that their souls will be with God forever where there is no pain, no sorrow and no tears.

The Convent and the Sisterhood are non-profit organizations, which do not receive financial support from the government and have to rely solely on donations. Thanks to the support coming from religious and charity organizations, as well as individual sponsors and European states, a number of projects have been implemented:




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“Joy Theatre”



Thirty mentally challenged orphans from the boarding home have been engaged in the activity of the children’s theatre “Ladoshki” organized by the brothers and sisters of the Convent for twelve years. More than fifteen plays have been staged during that period. Professional actors from Minsk theatres hold regular classes of creative  movement, drama and dance for the children.

The children are happy to perform not only in Belarus but also abroad.

The young actors demonstrate obvious progress and improvement of their mental and emotional state. Classes of drama contribute to the development of their creativity, imagination, sensory movements, and inspire them to study further.

Furthermore, the orphans learn the skills and habits necessary for their future life in the society. Their participation in the performances grows their confidence and helps them to live their dreams and bring joy to those who see them.

Summer camp “Nezabudka”

A summer camp for children from socially vulnerable backgrounds has been organized annually at the metochion of the convent in a picturesque place for the last decade. Around twenty young patients of the boarding home for mentally and physically challenged children come to the summer camp every year. Fairs and special days are held, performances are staged and hikes are organized here. Children can learn to play the guitar, to sing, to make handicrafts and even to tie prayer ropes.

A panel home was purchased in 2011 thanks to sponsorship of the European Women Association so that children who suffer from more serious disorders could stay in the camp.

Thus, the orphans get the opportunity to spend time together with other children of their age, to participate in sports and artistic events adapted according to their abilities. This project helps to adapt and integrate mentally and physically challenged orphans into the society.


Craft Workshops

Two workshops have opened their doors within the premises of the boarding home so that the mentally challenged children could develop their creativity. A wood-processing workshop is aimed at the boys, while the girls have the chance to learn how to make ceramics. St Elisabeth Convent bought and mounted the equipment and furniture for these workshops. These workshops contribute to the development of labour skills of the children who stay in the boarding school and help to find a solution for the problem of their labour rehabilitation. When their treatment in the boarding home is over, the graduates will be able to use the skills they have learned for employment. On the other hand, the opportunity to make a product and to see the results of their work allows the patients of the boarding home to feel that they are useful and valuable for the society. The products that the children make are sold by the sisters during fairs organized by the Convent and the money they generate buys the children gifts and sweets.

Therapeutic horseback riding

The Convent tries to employ innovative approaches to medical rehabilitation of the challenged children. The sisters of the Convent and the Sisterhood took a study course on therapeutic horseback riding and bought a specially trained horse to hold such classes with the children. The first groups of challenged children had the chance to try this method at the metochion in the summer of 2011.

The children who do therapeutic horseback riding show improvement of their psycho-emotional state, positive dynamics in the development of their eye and movement coordination as well as the therapeutic effect of general invigoration.

Christian School in honor of St Euphrosyne of Polotsk

This school hosts daily classes not only on Catechism but also on icon painting, choir singing, classical dance, Cossack martial arts. It is also planned to include a planetarium and a theatre hall for the performances of the “Ladoshki” children’s theatre.


An indoor arena for therapeutic horseback riding is to be built in order to have classes all year round and in all weather conditions.


We plan to build an outdoor sports ground for the parishioners’ children and the challenged children from the adjacent social centres.


CONVERSATION

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