Ministry of St.Elisabeth Convent: A Outdoor Holiday for the Children with Special Needs

Cloudy weather did not disrupt the Open Air project at the boarding home for children with special needs. It seemed as if no one noticed the absence of the sun as it was replaced by the positive energy surrounding the event that warmed and brightened all of the surroundings. On this day, everything had a unique sound, everything was dancing, and everything was bright and resembled a fairy tale. It is a good thing because we do not have enough fairy tales.
Everyone including the workers of the boarding home, volunteers as well as sister and brother from St. Elisabeth Convent do as much as they can for the children with special needs who permanently live at the boarding home. Within just one festive week, they children had several trips into the city to see a theatrical performance. What more impressive is that the children held their own performance when they debuted with a new play during a festival called “A world without boundaries” in the Belarussian city of Vitebsk.

The boarding home is considered to be a closed facility but people who spend time with these special children often say that there is much more understanding and openness as opposed to similar facilities in other countries.
Since it is important to share the joy, there were many mothers who brought their children from the city to the board home. Here is what they had to say:
These children are like angels, they are given to parents in kindness, and to humble the world – tells Victoria, a mother of five of which one has Down’s Syndrome – You know all the drool and drivel and diapers will be had to cope with until you change the way you look at things. I told one mother to love the drool because its your child! Wipe it as if you were to kiss the child! And soon afterward the drooling stopped. The child just needed more attention and the warmth of love.
At that moment, her son who’s name is Jan-David runs up to her and asked to have his picture taken in a bright yellow-green car. The car in which the clown arrived in to entrain the children. The clown is quite memorable. He carried instruments in his hands and behind his back and made it seem that he carried them inside his head as well. The musical instruments were there to uplift the spirit. And judging by the was treated the children it truly seemed that everyone was having a good time.

In real life the clowns name is Andrius Praga who is part of a dues performance group called the “Buttons”. Andrius admitted that he can never stay in one place and together with his counterpart of the traveling theatre nelly as well as other artist and musicians constantly travel in their colorful car.
“Everyone has their own world and everyone is unique in their own way and it is always interesting to explore this world. The most difficult part of today for me was to establish a relationship with the children In order to do so I tries to play along with them, attended to their needs. It was very important for me to understand them and establish communication on their level. The girls who work here and ding a truly amazing job – they have dedicated their live to this journey.
 Along with the clown, a musical theatre group called “Surprise” also entertained the children with special needs. They were dressed as characters from children’s cartoons. This was the first time this group performed in the boarding home for children with special needs but member of the group were no strangers to working with children who have disabilities.

Many will remember this day because of the house back rides. Nun Vera together with Brother Dimitry carefully helped the very young, well as older children get on the horses, and ensured the safety of the ride. The sisters of mercy from St. Elisabeth Convent were nearby together with the workers of the boarding home, parents and another horse trainer.
Moreover, while the parents discussed the benefits of therapeutic horse riding the children were truly overjoyed with the opportunity to ride a horse and to pet a lovely donkey. Meanwhile Nun Vera is glad that with God help and kindhearted people a long awaited dream became a reality – to have therapeutic horseback rides at the boarding home for children.
The doctors of the facility welcome this initiative as well. Currently, the boarding home houses 111 children and such activities can create a positive emotional background for many of them and help them physically. A personal approach and consistency play a very important role in this.

These children just like all children need to experience something new, – said brother Dimitri. – Animal therapy, a sensory garden, constant trips and visits, outdoor holidays such as this one – all of it helps them to get a taste of life. And of course for the spiritual development we have akathists every Friday. 
Such a holiday marks the diversity of the ministry that is constantly growing and finding new ways to serve others.  Here, it is important to combine the spirituality with all other aspect of life so that the children who life inside the walls of the boarding home can experience the joy, the love and everything that make all of us human.

 St. Elisabeth Convent
June 10, 2017