Three peaks were successfully ascended by our brave mountaineers in both good and awful conditions. See more here.


Deb and Pam visited BCH again to advise on the physio project. Watch how a special chair transformed a little boy's life here.


Drum roll! You will find the winning number of this month's bonanza prize 100 Club draw here.

Current News

Summer Camp - a volunteer's story

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Vitaly Markovski is a volunteer at BCH's summer camp. In this film, he talks about what it means to him and how life-limited children and young people can have a fun summer holiday at BCH's specially adpted site in the countryside. The weather is usually much better than in the film but the rain does not seem to dampen anyone's spirits. On the site in the village of Zabrodie, there is accommodation for children, families and volunteers.  It is, in most cases, the only opportunity for BCH children and families to have a holiday. For those who live in blocks of flats, often without a lift, it is liberating to be out in the fresh air and to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Many friendships are forged and children look forward all year to returning in the summer.

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May 100 Club Winner

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12 May 2017 cropped and compressedThe drawer was Marilyn Butler and the draw took place at V's Kitchen and Tea Room in Old Amersham.

The winning number is 10 and the prize is £205.

Learn about joining the 100 Club here.

Pictures at an Exhibition played and illustrated

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troubadorPupils, parents and other visitors to The Beacon were given a real treat by pianist Alexander Ardakov and children’s author, illustrator and storyteller James Mayhew. As Alexander played Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky James illustrated the music. As he painted and drew, James and the emerging picture were filmed and projected onto a big screen. Each of the ten sections of the music describes a scene such as The Gnome, Ballet of Unhatched Chicks, Limoges Market, Catacombs and The Hut on Hen’s Legs. James, who is probably best known for his Katie and Ella Bella Ballerina books, admitted that the most difficult sections of the work to illustrate are the ones which do not take very long to play.

How BCH is leading the way in palliative care

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You may have read recent articles in The Guardian or MailOnline about the distressing plight of disabled children in orphanages in Belarus.

The pattern of care provided for Belarusian children with chronic or terminal illnesses such as cerebral palsy is patchy. Belarus inherited the Soviet system of caring for severely disabled children in institutions often known as orphanages. Under this system, parents of chronically ill or disabled children are positively encouraged to give up their child into state care, often at birth. Sadly, these children with severe medical problems and disabilities are frequently labelled as having ‘no potential’ and receive little more than very basic care.

The quality of these institutions varies and depends on the director who seems able to allow or restrict access to visitors from outside. There are some very caring and well-meaning people working at the orphanages but, given drastic underfunding and understaffing, many of them can barely manage to complete essential care let alone give individual attention to their young charges with such complex needs. Belarusian Children's Hospice paediatrician Dr Pavel Burykin quotes the example of one of the orphanages he visited with 260 children and only 2 staff on night duty at any one time. Pavel is working on a project funded by a UK based NGO on how to expand paediatric palliative care and related services for children with severe disabilities and life-limiting conditions in Belarus. It also aims to protect and promote the rights of these children and their families

Therapy through play and interaction

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Friends of BCH is developing and funding another ground-breaking initiative at BCH.  Deb and Pam, UK physios who are Friends of BCH volunteers, visited Minsk to launch a paediatric physiotherapy pilot programme and to train BCH staff.  They will be visiting BCH again at least twice in the coming months to monitor the programme, set new targets and continue to train staff at BCH and parents of children receiving therapy.

Alisia Skomorovskaya, a member of the PR team at BCH, has written about the visit.

IMG 8221 compressedOlga Avila heads the Early Intervention Centre in Polyclinic No 19, one of 7 such centres in Minsk. For 15 years it has been helping young patients aged 0-3 years old, whose physical development is delayed due to neurological problems. The treatment approach is to work through the normal stages of a child’s development.

‘We educate other practitioners and hold seminars,’ says Olga, ‘but in all cases, the main input to a child’s development must take place at home. That is why we encourage the parents to take an active role in their child’s programme.’

We were allowed to watch as Olga and her colleague worked with an 18 month old boy. He walks with assistance and can already say a few simple words, successes largely due to his visits to the Centre. He has difficulty sitting and standing so this treatment aims to help him develop his co-ordination and strength in these positions. This is done through play as therapy must be fun for the child. He likes the feel of raw buckwheat trickling through his fingers and is happy to demonstrate how a bear growls or how he can bang a drum.

A Day in the Life of a BCH Nurse by our special reporter

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Valentina on bus cropped and compressedI spent a day with Valentina Maslova, an experienced nurse with 32 years’ hospital experience before coming to BCH almost five years ago. Valentina told me, ‘I decided to give working at the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH) a try and now simply cannot imagine myself leaving’.

Each morning begins in the same way for all the nurses at BCH in Baravlyany, a district in Minsk: the team meeting to discuss their patients, those they visited yesterday and those on the list for today. The meeting brings together not just the nurses but also the doctors and the director of BCH, Anna Garchakova, who knows each patient by name. Through the door you can hear, ‘Has Masha’s cold improved?’ and ‘Take a book for Pasha, he likes them better than playing with cars’. The nurses always take a small gift with them. Some of the children they visit are active and physically able, they love reading and playing. One of the nurses’ aims is to make the children feel as normal as possible.