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The outsiders glance

April 28, 2009, 10:00 8405 Author: Albert Pavlov (translated into English by Alexandra Baglai) www.deti.zp.ua Belgium guests visited “Happy Child” fund, Zaporozhye in April. Here are some details and photos

Our Belgians – Kevin, Pieter, Roland at the Chortica Island

Documentary movie produced by Pieter and Kevin

In this month we were glad to receive guests from Belgium – Pieter, Kevin and Roland. Roland is the representative of the Belgium fund Sos Oekraine, which aim is to help Ukrainian children.

The program was very saturated. During 10 days our guests visited such institutions as: the first orphanage, the third orphanage, the Zaporizhye orphanage for boys, the orphanage “Solnishko” ("Sun"), the Kalinovka orphanage, in the Zaporizhye regional children hospital and others.

During the trip guys made huge amount of very interesting photos which will underline the book about this journey. Also the first part of the documentary film about the children with special needs was produced. Our Belgium friends promised to come back to complete this work. Probably, the second part will be produced in the Kalinovka orphanage.

Pieter is preparing for filming

Roland Devolder – the ideologist of the trip

In the boys-orphanage. Zaporozhye. Velikij Lug

In the boys-orphanage. Zaporozhye. Velikij Lug

Ernest. The third orphanage.

Denis. Kalinovka orphanage.

Vzw Sos Oekraine, Belgium, donated 1000 euros for Zaporyzhye children regional hospital. New furniture was bought to the surgery departments’ canteen (1000$). The newborns department was supplied by printer/scanner.

Thanks to the donations surgery departments canteen was supplied with the new furniture.

Foreign guests lived in our office and the employees of the “Happy Child” fund had a grate opportunity to improve their English and to full their knowledge about little European country Belgium.

Despite having serious congenital cerebral hernia, Nadya still is a little baby, who needs love and care. After meeting her, one of the guests burst into tears.

Guys amazed us with their unusual haircuts, easy-going lifestyle and… cooking skills))

I think it will be interesting for you to read the interview with Kevin and Pieter, which we had taken before their departure (then the full interview you wrote for us)

Some words about yourselves, please (profession, etc.)

We are nothing more than two Belgian art students who aren’t afraid of an adventure. Pieter is studying film in Brussels, while Kevin is a student in advertising design in Ghent. We’re both living in the center of Ghent and good friends, who like to share a laugh.

What is the main goal of your visit?

In short: children. Our plan was to make a documentary about orphans and the conditions they live in, the way they are being raised and the needs of the institutions, which support them and fight for a better life for them. Turns out, this problem is a lot bigger and much more complicated than we had expected.

What you thought about Ukraine before your visit?

We didn’t know a lot about this country. The problem is that in Belgium and Western Europe, not a lot of media attention is given to Ukraine and the other former Sovjet-countries. We all know about the Tsjernobyl disaster, the Orange Revolution and the current difficult political atmosphere but that’s about it.

What was your first impression about Ukraine?

The roads are in terrible condition and there’s a big problem with pollution both industrial and publical! During our 7 hour drive from Kiev to Zaporozhey, after every bump we hit, we said to one another “Oh no, let’s hope not every aspect of this trip will be like the road condition…”

What are the most significant problems you discovered during you visit?

In our opinion we think there’s a general mentality problem. More specific, we think that for some, the value given to life is too insignificant. It’s a vision that is not only projected on others but also on oneself. When we crossed the road, we saw alcohol usage and gambling all around us, and even the lack of respect for pedestrians crossing the road point out this fact. Our visits to the different orphanages just showed us an excessive form of this same problem.

How you see the solution of the orphans’ problem in Ukraine?

First of all, life must be given its true value. We just cannot accept that mothers abandon their children because of mental retardness or other sometimes even minor disabilities. Especially when in a lot of cases these problems are originated in excessive alcohol usage during pregnancy. In these circumstances, abandoning your child is nothing more than a prolonged version of the same mentality problem: out of vision, out of mind. No, all these children disserve happiness as much as anyone else and one of the key factors of happiness is the love of a family, a good surrounding to grow up in. There is only one solution when concerning orphans: there just shouldn’t be any.

What is your opinion about the childrens’ hospital, about Kalinovka?

We have a lot of respect for what all these people do for these children, but than again, it’s not enough. And this is a very painful point because this is not the fault of these people. They want to do more for the children, but the means do not match the needs.

Are any kinds of the problem (orphans, bad situation with orphans) present in Belgium?

This is difficult to answer because in Belgium there isn’t a big problem with orphans, because it’s not as literally present. There do is a sort of caretaking system involving children who live in difficult social situations and are being placed within foster families. The same thing happens with orphans: them is given a new home.

Do many people in Belgium help those one who are in trouble? Do people trust charity local foundations?

There do is some kind of mistrust about charity foundations because of a general feeling of mistrust and selfishness, but also because of some scandals involving fraud.

Can you remember some funny case happened during your visit?

Apparently, our appearing is quite striking for the Ukranian people. In the evening we’ve been called fascist because of wearing shorts and Pieters Mohawk haircut… Of course, we understand this and in a way, we kind of expected it. After all, Hitler too, always appeared in public wearing shorts and a Mohawk haircut… ? But luckily, the children were all very delighted to see it. Some of them even wanted to touch it! And at Kalinovka there was this one kid who came to us very prudently and touched our legs, and after being assured it was save, he even kissed them.

Do you plan to visit Ukraine again?

Yes, we do must certainly. As we explained above, the problem with orphans is much bigger and more complex than we expected. So in order to complete our documentary in a proper way, we decided to use this trip mainly to perform research on a lot of aspects of this topic. So be prepared, we will be back…

What is your opinion about the Happy Child foundation (frankly answer required)

You guys are our heroes! Seriously, within you, we found some people who put aside their own aims in order to pursuit happiness for those who have the least means to find it. At first there may have been some problems with understanding each other and there was a mutual need in time in order to build up a trustful relationship. But once these minor problems were overcome, I believe a new and strong bond can be build up between us. It simply was very enlightening for us to be able to sit at a table with kindred spirits, with people who share the same vision and who are equally prepared to put aside personal matters, in order to help accomplish one of the most beautiful things you can find in this world.

Pieter Genbrugge is at first in Ukraine.

Kevin and Lenin

Pieter thinks that he is more similar with Lenin then Kevin

Pieter and Mahno – very famous Ukrainian personality

Real Don Quichote, isn’t he?

Guys were really surprised by the “quality” of our roads

The view of our houses was rather amazing for Belgians too

This “exciting” cat caused a real shock!

Pieter and children from the first orphanage. Zaporozhye.

The Kalinovka orphanage.

The Kalinovka orphanage. An eldest group.

Vlada. The Kalinovka orphanage.

Dima masters new vehicle. The Kalinovka orphanage.

The Kalinovka orphanage. Fortunately these children have an opportunity to be pleased by the spring weather!

The filming group from the regional channel makes the report about orphans in the “Solnishko” orphanage.

The children from the orphanage “Solnishko”.

The conveniences in the traumatic surgery are very harsh.

Happy Child foundation - effective help to the most needy children of the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, since 2004

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