Dosvidanya: Belarus children wave good-bye

After a tearful good-bye, six district families stood at J.D. Junction on Sunday and watched as Allan Empey’s van carried the six children who had become a part of their lives away to Winnipeg, en route to their own families in Belarus.
“From our side it was a tearful good-bye,” said Cathy Zin, who along with Terry Wilcott and their family, had Dimitry Fedoruk stay with them for the six-week duration.
Zin, along with Ewan and Susan Affleck, Albert and Linda Beller, Allan and Linda Empey, and Earl and Marilyn Cole, showed up to see off Fedoruk, Nadia Dmitrkovich, Dzmitry Stryha, Artsion Kandratsic, Andre Asavets, and Maxim Kalcsnikovich, but parting was easy for nobody.
“At breakfast time, Dimitry said, ‘I no go to Belarus,’ and my husband replied, ‘But your Mom and Dad…,’ and Dimitry interrupted, ‘No. Mom and Dad and sister come to Canada,” Zin recalled.
And when it came time to say good-byes, Fedoruk “threw his arms around my husband’s waist… he didn’t want to leave,” she added.
“It was hard to see them going home,” echoed Susan Affleck, whose family hosted Dmitrkovich. “They were happy to go see their families, but sad to be leaving Canada, their friends, and the experiences they’ve had behind.”
“But as the translator, Tatima, said, as they get closer to home, they become excited about seeing their families again,” she added.
The other five Belarus children (Veronica Tademkova, Margarita Alexeeva, Iryna Slavashevich, Alena Mauchun, and Yuri Lapitski) went to Winnipeg with their respective host families (David and Heidi Ivall, John and Sandra Scott, Tony and Yvonne Gill, and Wes and Olive Friesen).
When speaking of their experiences, all of the host families seemed glad to have taken the opportunity to make a difference in the children’s’ lives.
“It was a tremendous experience on both sides,” noted Zin. “It was good for [Dimitry’s] health, and for us, it was like having a cultural experience without leaving our home.
“He was only a guest for about four days, and then he fit right in,” she added.
The whole experience went so well, there already is talk of having children visit here again next summer. The host families will get together for a de-briefing, tentatively slated Sept. 8, and will discuss with the Rainy River Multicultural Association the possibility of repeating the event next year, Affleck said.
Anyone interested in hosting a Belarus child next summer should attend the meeting. A location will be announced in the near future.