Can you say stunned? The director at the shelter showed us into the room where all the dorm furnishings and kitchen cabinets were stacked and waiting to be assembled. Irina had no idea what we still had in the van and trailer.

As we carried the next mammoth load into the room, she was like a kid. The supplies we carried from Berlin, through Poland and Belarus, caused her to hit sensory overload. She was speechless. No, as precious as she is, you can never really say that about this lady. I think she has gills, as she never draws a breath, but speaks nonstop. Lena has to interrupt her to translate. After translating the main points, Lena just looks at us and smiles as she says, “…and a bunch of other stuff.”

Richard, Nadia, and I put the colorful playhouse together, while Vitaly and Max assembled toys and shelves. Stephanie and Donna entertained Irina, trying to keep her from playing with the toys, as she donned the Punch and Judy puppets and peeked through the puppet theater. I believe she touched every toy. She has plans to use all these toys to help the children heal from the trauma of broken homes. From her own past, Irina knew, from early childhood, she wanted to help children in need.

UPDATE: We have already received word the playroom is paying dividends. Irina sent word one of the kids needing therapy would not cooperate. After allowing her to play in the playroom for an hour, she complied and went to therapy.

This center is a revolutionary concept for Russians. This type of shelter just doesn’t exist there. Irina has studied all forms of child therapy. It is surprising to see the concepts she has already employed, as they are some of the same techniques we have seen used in Tanya Goldbeck’s clinic, in Beaumont.

Irina took us into the adjacent building where they have begun remodeling. We were amazed at the work they were doing, rooms with one way mirrors to observe the kids as they play, therapy rooms, rooms to aid in breathing, physical therapy rooms, and others.

We cannot express our feelings, what excitement this brings. In the past, these children, the true misfits of society, along with the physically handicapped, were warehoused, literally, never to be seen in public, again. How encouraging.

Click to view slide show of our visit to the shelter.

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