The Sunflowers Centre Project
The Sunflowers Centre in Mikashevichi started out as a 7-room derelict building. The local Disabled Association had no proper facilities to enable them to carry out activities with over 100 registered special needs children in the area. The Sunflower Chernobyl Appeal raised the necessary funding in Ireland to completely renovate the building supplied to the Disabled Association by the local authorities.
A group of voluntary trades people travelled to Belarus in Spring 2005 to start the work. They fitted new windows, a new sewage system, toilet, new floors, solid fuel heating system, fitted kitchen, re-wired the building, water connections, wheelchair ramp, paths, a roofed patio and decorated the building after plaster work was finished. The voluntary workers had worked at an incredible rate and all that was left was to furnish and put the electrical equipment, fridge freezer, microwave, gas cooker, television and other equipment in place for the opening day. It was a proud moment for all the voluntary workers and the Disabled Association as the children and parents packed the Sunflowers Centre for the opening.
The parents now have craft classes, activities and The Sunflowers supplied new computers, and had a local teacher give computer lessons to the children. A library and extra equipment will be installed.
The Sunflowers Centre gives the families of special needs children in the area a chance to organise themselves. It is an important focal point in their lives and helps to keep children out of institutions. From The Sunflowers point of view it gives contact to many children in need of help and is an important place for distribution of practical aid. We supply the Centre with medicines when requested, craft items, books or other necessary items such as clothing. We also take a number of the children or their siblings to Ireland for recuperative breaks.
We thank the dedicated volunteers and all our supporters. Without them, this, and many of our other projects would not be possible. Here are some photos of the volunteers at work in Belarus.
The Kitchen area before and after. The floors were replaced as were the plumbing and windows. A fully equipped kitchen with new appliances installed; fridge freezer, microwave oven, gas cooker etc.. supplied.
The main reception room above was in bad shape and had to be slabbed out, rewired and plastered.
Pat Cahill pictured on left from Ballinasloe re-wired the whole building. He is pictured here in the area where the Stanley stove was installed to provide heating. Sunflower volunteer Joe Power from Killimor is seen here with the Stanley stove which was kindly donated by Waterford Stanley. The room has been completly renovated and transformed.
Plumbers John Glynn from Castleblakney, Seamus Garvey and T.J Daly from Cappataggle, working on connection of the water mains to the Sunflowers Centre.
The floors were replaced with wheelchair friendly laminate flooring. L to R: John Glynn, Seamus Garvey, T.J Daly and Denis Hackett.
Volunteers installed new wheelchair friendly footpaths around the Sunflowers Centre. L to R: Brendan Fallon, Denis Hackett, Tony Whyte, Zachar Stanislav, Declan Manning, Aidan Mullery, Sean Donohoe and Mick Mullery.
A porch was built for the children at the rear of the building. Photos above show Mary Hibbitt from Caltra, Mary Power and Brigid McGuire from Shannon adding the finishing touches to the Sunflowers Centre.
Sunflowers volunteers L to R: Joe Power from Eyrecourt, Tony Whelan from Killoran, Padric Kinnucane from Ballinasloe, Martin Hibbitt from Caltra and Tony Whyte from Ballinasloe.
Children with various disabilities using the Sunflowers Centre. The Sunflowers installed new computers and printers, and now employ a teacher to give them lessons. This is one of many activities at the centre run by the parents committee. This is a self-help project supported by The Sunflowers Chernobyl Appeal.