They’d better give some money.
I met a friend the other day, she asked: "Do you have by chance any clothes to give away? My husband and I take our things to the care home in Vaupshasau street, and we collect them from friends as well." Wait a moment, in Vaupshasau street? I’ve got some associations with this care home... Oh yes, that is the one that the Astrashytski Haradok school patronizes. And where the other day Mikalai Lukashenka wearing a military shirt was taking chickens with his classmates.
Does it surprise you, too, that volunteers bring clothes to that care home? One would think that with such sponsors, pensioners and invalids should be sitting with gold pistols and sipping Chateau Margot there. But no, as it turns out. And their sponsors’ gifts only cause problems. Especially, for the care home administration.
One might ask what could be wrong with that? Children come to visit old people, bring gifts and sing songs. Yes it's wonderful! It's great that children help lonely old people. Believe me, if your children and their classmates decide to come to the poorhouse, bring chocolate and sing for the old people – you will be thanked, and the inhabitants of the house will be sincerely pleased, as well as its administration. But not in the case of the Astrashytski Haradok school.
Do you know how the day starts in a care home when the sponsors are coming? The administration is to come to work by seven in the morning. Because at seven o’clock, the country's main security service comes to the care home and combs all the premises searching for an intruder-invalid hiding in the back room with a grenade. (Nobody knows who is guarding the "body" at this moment. However, this service is big enough to do both.) The care home staff is instructed carefully about the "step to the left-step to the right". And then the schoolchildren arrive, accompanied by trustworthy TV crews, who will tell the Belarusian people a beautiful fairy tale in the evening.
In reality the fairy tale looks like this. Do you remember, that during the New Year holidays, state news were full of stories about Mikalai Lukashenka presenting the poor old men with two rabbits? It really looked touching: lonely elderly people could pet them and got positive emotions. Only the rabbits were sitting in cages in the administrative offices. And no money was given to the care home for rabbit feed. Only just before the act of donating, people in charge from higher-ranking organizations with serious faces said to management: the rabbits cost $ 150 each, so be proud, this is a very expensive gift!
And in May, the story started not with the hens, but with goats. The same people in charge from higher-ranking organizations told the administration that Astrashytski Haradok schoolchildren would come to the care home and bring two goatlets of some special breed as a present. They stressed: the gift was more than expensive, the goatlets were one and a half thousand dollars each. And in order to adequately keep such an expensive gift, the care home had to build a goat shed for them. But no one would give money for the goat shed, they had to find it themselves. Go and find money in your own budget (that means to get it out from your own pocket or reduce the ration of the disabled). The staff of the care home was horrified. They asked the social protection fund: would you give any money for feed? Goats need a ton of hay per year, not less. No, they said, we wouldn’t. Find ways, as Shchotkina told you to. And who would look after them – the disabled ones? Your problems, guys, but pull up the socks: you would take the responsibility for the goatlets.
At the last moment the goatlets were canceled. The sponsors realized, obviously, that such an expensive gift would simply not survive in the care home without additional financing, and they look twice at every penny. And instead of goats, a dozen chickens were brought. The care home administration, rejoicing that there would be no goats, managed to find some kind of a utility room for the chicken coop. Well, at least those ones could still be fed – fall is coming, there would be a lot of earthworms. Much thanks that the sponsors cut losses, much thanks to Comrade Stalin for our happy childhood, much thanks to the dear party for kindness and affection.
And it’s volunteers who bring clothes and diapers to the care home, and not the schoolchildren, guarded by Lukashenka's security service. Because the state does not need people at all. The state needs goats.
Iryna Khalip, specially for Сharter97.org