Whenever I look at the calendar, I do not stop being surprised by how fast time flies by. It seems like 2015 has only just started but I am pleased to say we have achieved a lot.
This year can be summarized in a few words - very good, challenging, not easy - but I can say that, overall, it was a year of successes.
The range of palliative care services provided by the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH) has expanded and we are focusing even more on our off-site programme, Hospice at Home, which we deliver to children in the city of Minsk and beyond.
With your help, we have recently introduced physiotherapy at home to help our young patients. Katya is a highly-qualified nurse and paediatric physiotherapist who has had training both in Belarus and abroad. She visits children at home and shows their parent or carer how to help with useful exercises and how, generally, to take care of the sick child in the best way between visits from the BCH team. This is a unique service in Belarus and Katya’s help and advice is much in demand.
After repairing and refurbishing Stork House, the purpose-built family accommodation at our summer site, we were able to run a Family Summer Vacation Programme in the countryside. To the delight of parents, they and their children had an opportunity to stay there, with professional support, for two weeks between May and September. These popular holidays were very positive and successful and hugely enjoyed by parents, children and volunteers alike. Invariably, this is the only chance our families have of leaving their flat in a busy city and enjoying the benefits of stepping outside to enjoy the sun and fresh country air.
A large slice of our time and energy this year has been taken up by the construction of the new Belarusian National Children's Palliative Care Centre. Our fundraising department has organised many events and I am very happy to tell you that the actual building should be completed in early 2016. We now need just 10% of the cost to complete this project and are full of enthusiasm and determination to see the job done.
Looking forward, what are our main plans for next year?
The new children's palliative care centre will provide respite care so we will continue to bolster our home care palliative care programme in Minsk and, of course, run our much-loved programme for children on their own and families at the Stork Summer Vacation Centre in Zabrodie.
Our joint project with the United Nations Development Programme will start in 2016 which will enable us to take on another social worker as there is a great demand for the help they can provide. We also intend to expand our vital physiotherapy services and train one more specialist.
All of us at BCH are very grateful to you and appreciate all of your help for our families, our children and our organisation in general and I would like to tell you we could not do it without your help, your support and your hearty involvement. We know we can do so much more for our patients and we have great confidence in our strength and your help to achieve our goals in the future.
We wish all of you good health, strong families, peace and creativity as much as possible in life.
Anna Garchakova, Director of the Belarusian Children's Hospice