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Thread: Children for the Disabled by the Disabled

  1. #11
    Senior Member Norm's Avatar
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    Hi Alice, I was just throwing the idea around for other people mainly.
    Last edited by Norm; 07-10-2006 at 03:57 PM.

  2. #12
    Senior Member lynnifer's Avatar
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    Old news but just saw it on my local news yesterday (would love to do this if I didn't work shift work!). According to the news report, a two-week respite adds about two years to extend their lives.

    The Hamilton Spectator
    News, Friday, August 2, 2002, p. A02
    Chernobyl's children
    Beamsville resident Pam Ellens initiated a respite program-- with the financial support of area rotary clubs-- for the impoverished young victims of the world's worst nuclear disaster.
    Kelly Putter
    Special To The Hamilton Spectator
    Beamsville - It has taken Pam Ellens nearly three years of sucking it in to talk without tears about her babies from Belarus.
    But her eyes still glisten when she tries to portray the indescribable emotions that these children of Chernobyl bring to her western world.
    "I never thought this would become such a passion," says the Beamsville resident who brought an international respite program for the impoverished young victims of the world's worst nuclear disaster to the attention of her rotary club in west Niagara. "How can you look at those little innocent victims and not want to help them?"
    The first child was Anastasiya Syargeichuk, an eight-year-old Minsk native Ellens met two summers ago. Charmed by her humility and gratitude and horrified by her distended belly, Ellens visited Belarus that winter to try to comprehend how the little girl lived.
    What she witnessed would move her to tears for months after returning home: one-room hovels, four family members to a bed, a diet of bread, potatoes and tea, substandard hospitals and orphanages, children plagued by disease and deformity.
    "I would find myself in my office breaking down and crying," she recalls. "It took me many Rotary presentations before I could talk about the children without crying."
    She's been on a mission of sorts ever since. The Rotary's Children of Chernobyl program has grown to 13 children this summer who are being hosted by families in west Niagara.
    The program's objective is to provide the children with free medical and dental care, which is painfully lacking in their homeland. But even that objective went above and beyond dental fillings and new eyeglasses in late May when 11-year-old Nadezhda Lashuk underwent open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital.
    Nadezhda had been denied surgery twice in Belarus even though doctors said she'd only live to see her 13th birthday. Ellens pulled strings with friends involved in Rotary's Gift of Life program and the Herbie Fund, a Hospital for Sick Children foundation that has brought hundreds of children for operations not available to them at home.
    Accompanied by Anastasiya, now 10, who acted as an interpreter, Nadezhda and her mother arrived in Canada May 10. Her four-and-a-half hour surgery was a success and she has spent the summer recuperating at Ellens' home.
    "Her mother says her Belarus birthday is March 31," says Ellens. "And her Canadian birthday is the day of her surgery, May 23."
    Although these children weren't yet born at the time of the 1986 nuclear accident in Chernobyl, many suffer its consequences, particularly in areas of Belarus that were hardest hit from the radioactive fallout. Thyroid cancer, stomach ailments and leukemia are common among children.
    Respite programs have operated around the world and in Canada since 1990, offering some 150,000 Belarusian children a reprieve from their radiation contaminated homeland.
    Families are expected to cover the cost of hosting a child for the summer. Area rotary clubs have been sponsoring the $2,000 per child cost of bringing them to Niagara. The program is open to children aged eight to 17. First visits are six to eight weeks and subsequent ones last up to 12 weeks. The doctors, dentists and optometrists of host families typically offer medical and dental care free of charge. Ellens hasn't yet heard of a child being turned away.
    Ellens admits it's hard not to spoil the children from Chernobyl for whom the basics such as fruit and vegetables are a luxury. And if any single child bears the bulk of her generosity, it's Anastasiya, who shed tears of joy last month when Ellens presented her with Britney Spears concert tickets.
    "She's the reason I do this project," says Ellens, who has a 23-year-old daughter and a 21-year-old son both in university. "She's so polite and thankful for everything. She's like a third child. She's changed my life forever."
    Another part of the program is donations of medical supplies and equipment. Thanks to the generosity of area rotary clubs, Ellens carted about $12,000 US worth of stethoscopes, bandages and pap smear testing to Belarus hospitals servicing the thousands of poor who never get a reprieve.
    And as executive director of West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation, Ellens is well positioned to secure aid and second-hand medical equipment. A used baby warmer and hospital stretcher sit in her basement awaiting her next visit to Belarus.
    Another child is being looked at for heart surgery and a 17-year-old girl will be attending Grimsby Secondary School this year on a youth exchange program. The sky, it would seem for Ellens, is the limit.
    Last edited by lynnifer; 07-31-2006 at 01:35 PM.

  3. #13
    Had not heard about that Lynnifer. What a great idea!

    Has anyone had experience with foster parenting?

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