Meeting of parallel worlds
By Ivan Zhdanovich
The world of fantasy really can meet that of reality on occasion, as recently proven at the event hosted by NEXT Club, at luxurious Crowne Plaza Minsk Hotel. Disciplined staff met their excited young guests with smiles, amiably opening doors in front of them and showing them where to go. The children went to the cloakroom through the hall and lobby bar, their faces, eyes and gestures radiating lively emotions and curiosity. Meanwhile, high profile customers were at first probably astonished at seeing several hundred ‘visitors from a different world’, including cadets. Ladies and gentlemen looked up from their morning papers, interrupted their conversations and even froze for a moment from drinking their coffee or juice, in surprise.
The children were there to enjoy a charity holiday organised by the Independent Assistance to Children public association. “We sometimes forget that others need our help, as we inhabit our own narrow world,” explains Tatiana Kot, who heads the association. “However, these children need our care. We chose to call our holiday Generosity of Heart. We’ve many times seen how well children respond to attention. Our event transports them into a world of beauty and talent, away from daily routine. It’s a real pleasure for me and the other organisers to see them forget their ‘adult’ problems for a while, becoming true children, enjoying childish things. It’s a delight to do good deeds!”
Young Nastya Apanovich sang her Small Ship song, bringing smiles to every face — child and adult alike. Afterwards, the hall burst into applause, showing a good mood pervaded the venue. Guests enjoyed juices and tasty dishes while being entertained. Famous TV host Yevgeny Bulka directed the applause for artistes and patrons. Other performers included the winner of the international Bravo Turku 2011 Song Festival (held in Finland), Natalia Prosmytskaya, who received an ovation for her Camomilla song. Mischievous Lights dance team were also popular, and Tatiana Brukhanchik — a laureate of the Song Remains With Us 2011 contest — gathered a large crowd of dancers for her rendition of Real Life.
The event was organised jointly by public and state organisations, with support from pop artistes, musicians and sportsmen. It has been held since 2009 (several times a year), bringing kindness and warmth to over 1,500 children without parental guardians and those with disabilities. Since January 2010, activists and volunteers from the Independent Assistance to Children public association and those from the public international medical association of charity initiatives — Medicine and Chernobyl — have been organising the holiday at NEXT Club. The Crowne Plaza Minsk Hotel’s owner, Sudi Ozkan, has contributed a great deal to the project, joined by hotel director Aidan Chengel, to ensure that the event takes place each year. This year, the holiday attracted players from the famous Belarusian basketball club Minsk-2006 for the first time (including its foreign legionnaires); they presented children with over a dozen basketballs, wishing them to try the sport.
The organisers are convinced that, having planted a seed of spiritual kindness, we help children to achieve peace with their environment and realise the important aspects of life. The holiday is always diverse in its cultural and entertainment programme, with performers admitting that the organisation is excellent.
Boys from Mogilev’s Regional Cadet College took part, in addition to children from three Minsk orphanages. “The children have been long discussing their forthcoming trip to the elite hotel in Minsk,” smiles Andrey Balabanov, the Director of Mogilev’s Regional Cadet College. “We are soon to celebrate our tenth anniversary and are now admitting not only children without parental guardianship to our 8-10th classes. We offer a good standard of education. Here, I can see their faces lit up by happiness. Actually, we have many talented youngsters studying at the College; without exaggeration, they could have prepared their own concert programme. During the recent Red Carnations festival of patriotic songs, they performed brilliantly. Our Georgy Pasevich is singing at this party.”
Although the cadets were excused their usual morning exercise, they later danced themselves breathless, and received lots of admiring looks from the girls, as host Yevgeny Bulka noted; a few phone numbers were exchanged. He tells us, “Such events give me the chance to do something good for those who appreciate it. It’s important not to simply feel pity; rather, we can sympathise and do something to help. My fellow artistes and I were working with Dubrovno orphanage, in the Vitebsk Region. Classical and pop singers give concerts and we have found patrons to finish repair works. I felt sad to see the orphanage broken up, as we became true friends with the children.”
Alexander Poradovsky, from the Council of Ministers, also views children and adults as being unified, with adults always ready to help. He thanked everyone who had been involved in the event. “My friends and I became involved in this charity 7-8 years ago,” added Honoured Artiste of Belarus Alexey Khlestov, a pop singer, after the party. “I’m convinced that we should wisely guide those children who lack parents, as well as those with health problems. This helps them achieve their goals, becoming strong and successful. They already know about physical and mental pain, relying mostly on themselves. Last year, we joined the ONT TV channel to organise a major event, visiting 2-3 orphanages in each region. Concerts were organised, with gifts presented to children. I’m sure such projects will continue.”
Philip Norman, the Minsk Crowne Plaza’s new general manager, has been working there for just two months. He admits, “It’s important that we host parties like this and I do hope they’ll happen more often. Children are gifts from God, representing our future hopes. To bring about a bright future, we need to support children who lack parents and those who need help. We’ll certainly organise more such events in the years to come.”
All those who had kindly made the event possible received hand-made presents from the children. Mr. Norman was given a beautiful white swan made from folded paper, which he accepted with pleasure, saying that it would decorate his office. Afterwards, he noted that he has taken part in various charity events previously, as is fitting for managers and businessmen.