All of the money we raise goes towards helping people on the ground.
Bridges to Belarus supports around 800 children and their families in and around the town of Rogachev in southern Belarus. The support provided is on an individual basis, dependent on a family's need, however there are a number of things that we prioritise:
Ensuring that every child has a bed to sleep in
Ensuring that every child has a pair of shoes and a winter coat
SUPPORTING VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic violence is a huge problem in Belarus with an estimated 77% of women being abused by their intimate partner during their lifetime and one in three women experiencing abuse every year (figures from Radislava, a Belarusian domestic violence charity). With increasing levels of unemployment and associated alcoholism, rates of domestic violence are increasing rapidly. Bridges to Belarus provides support to any individual who experiences violence from an intimate partner and ensures that there are procedures and pathways to safeguard children from violence. We provide safe accommodation, furnishing, basic provisions such as food and clothing in emergencies, access to health care and education and long term support such as psychological support, child care and vocational training for the remaining parent. We have been extremely fortunate in 2019 to have been granted a funding to develop our domestic violence project over the next three years from the Lady Ryder of Warsaw Memorial Trust and look forward to working with this organisation.
winter food parcels
Belarus can be hit by incredibly harsh winters and with food prices disproportionately high in comparison to the average wage, keeping a family fed and warm through the winter can be a real struggle. Every year Bridges to Belarus buys food parcels for upwards of 50 families, containing basics such as flour, sugar, cooking oil, rice and pasta. During the Summer months, when most families will have provisions from their own gardens or allotments, the charity often helps by purchasing other necessities, such as washing powder or nappies for babies.
the summer school & supporting education
A relatively new project, each year the charity enables one or two people to travel out to Rogachev to teach conversational English to children. The objective is to allow children from poorer families, who would not otherwise be able to afford private tuition, to improve their English language - a key skill to have for improving their career prospects away from the radiation zone. Over the years we have also provided regular assistance to local schools, by helping to purchase basic school supplies and stationery, as well as larger purchases such as laptops or sound systems which allow teachers to improve the quality of education for Rogachev's children.
DAY CENTRE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The social care system in Belarus is not as developed as in the UK; traditionally, if people required looking after, the burden fell on the families, who were not always equipped or financially-able to give that support. In Rogachev we are pleased to help support a day centre for young adults with disabilities. They are an incredibly creative group, frequently taking part in local exhibitions, performances and competitions.
Whilst the majority of the work we do is about improving the living conditions and opportunities for our children, the medical consequences of Chernobyl are still being felt in a very real way by the people in Rogachev. As a qualified paediatric consultant, our founder Dr Rachel Furley provides advice to families with sick children; and we also help with the provision of medicines which, especially children's medicines, are very expensive in Belarus.