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Pure Heaven for Big Families


A light-hearted game

Seven years ago Marina and her seven children visited the SOS Social Centre in Borovljany, near Minsk for the first time, and their first impressions have stuck. "Being here is like being in another world," she says.

Forty-three-year-old Marina vividly remembers the last time she was here. "The village is still as beautiful as it was then and the house here is nice and comfortable. Having three to four rooms for our family at the SOS Social Centre is something we don't enjoy back at home."

The list of differences with the situation at home is long.

"We have more money here, there's no need to pay for rent and we can spend money on fruits and meat - that's also something we cannot do at home. At home I get tired of only thinking about what I'm going to cook."

"Here we can also check our radiation levels; this is something that we cannot do at home as the authorities tell us the environment in Gomel is ok. So, if the environment is ok, there's no point to check the people's health."

Beloved meat and bananas

Birthday party at SOS Social Centre Borovljany

"At home I'm afraid of letting the children play outside - here it is much quieter and safe. At home I take medicine; here I have had no problems with my health for ten days. Here I can rest."

Eleven-year-old Ivan agrees with his mother, saying that it is better in the SOS Social Centre than at home. "Here everything is better, I like everything. If I were to change anything, I would like to be here in summer instead of now in spring. The village is even prettier."

The boy says that he enjoys life in the village, because here he can eat bananas and meat. "We eat meat only once a month," says the 6th-grade pupil, who has to share a room at home with five other children. "We have two rooms, where nine people live. It's almost impossible to turn around."

Nine people in 28 m²

Mother Marina adds that the flat - 28 square metres - is on the first floor and this means that the living place is very humid. "My oldest son has asthma because of that; here the conditions are like being in another world. We hope to get a bigger apartment, but nobody can tell me when."

All names have been changed to protect the identity of the beneficiaries.

The SOS Social Centre Borovljany has two main target groups: the first group are children who already have cancer or cancer-related illnesses, who are treated in the neighbouring Children's Cancer Clinic. The second target group are people who live in the contaminated areas - normally big families - who stay at the centre for three weeks.

Relevant Countries: Belarus.

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