Atsigrezk i Vaikus & Lithuanian Link
Vilnius & Zagare, Lithuania
Thursday 7 September by Marion Stewart
Because of the changes to fixtures, the timescale to arrange anything similar to the previous donations for Lithuania again was too short. It was agreed to donate to the same Children`s Home in Vilnius called Atsigrezk i Vaikus and also ask Lithuania Link (a UK based charity) if once again they could identify a use for a donation in the rural area of Zagare. With much help from Keith Shannon a Scot working in the British Embassy, liaison with the Children`s Home in Vilnius commenced and a list of items required and a date to visit was agreed. The proposal for the Lithuania Link donation was that the Youth Club in Zagare would use the funds to provide gifts and entertainment in the lead up to Christmas for the children living in the local orphanage called Naryshkin`s Palace.
On the morning of 7th September, 2006, Jude (Northern Lights) and I went with staff from the Vilnius Home to a supermarket and helped load trolleys and then the minibus with a huge range of things for the kids. The prices of electrical goods i.e. tellys seemed less than in the UK so it was a good idea to be buying these items in Lithuania. What slowed things up was that everything had to be scanned so all the pens, pencils, rubbers, notebooks etc., had to go through individually. We checked how much was spent and then realised there was enough to get drinks (soft) for the presentation Jude and I got taken back to our hotel in the minibus which the staff explained they only had because it was donated. They indicated that the Home pretty well ran on donations and so the Sunshine Appeal gifts were invaluable.
In the afternoon we met Morag (BlueEyes) and Embassy representatives and headed to the Home. They had organised a hall next to the Home because they were getting replacement windows. Billy aka OLAS (footsoldier now living in Vilnius), his Lithuanian girlfriend, Ieva (our Lithuanian footsoldier) and her daughter were already at the Home. Billy and his girlfriend had organised bringing a fantastic big cake which I managed to scribble Love From The Tartan Army on with blue icing. After Sigita, the Director, welcomed us she then translated my spiel about the Sunshine Appeal growing in strength following our previous visit to them in 2003. Keith Shannon from the Embassy made a brief speech about the great welcome the Lithuanians had shown him as well as the Tartan Army during this trip. He had brought a number of Saltires with him so these were handed out along with some Scottish themed pencil cases we had brought over and “I’ve met the Tartan Army” badges.
Sigita the Director told us that the entertainment the children had prepared for us was their gift to us and that it was a thank you that came from the heart. Quite a moving moment.. A group of girls performed an impressive dance routine which one of the older girls had choreographed. Then Jude, Morag and Billy joined in a dance (a bit like the hokey-cokey but more complicated!!) with Judith giving directions. The final part of their show was a kind of mime about cave-dwellers discovering potatoes after hunting animals was unsuccessful. Hard to believe perhaps, but this was highly entertaining! Once their “programme” was complete everyone charged towards drinks and the cake. The kids politely handed round juice and bits of cake to us and then tucked in themselves. It seemed like it was a bit of a treat which was good to see. We said our goodbyes and were kindly given a lift back to town in the minibus.
Later Jude and I met with Alex Gibb from Lithuania Link who lives in Vilnius and Simona Stasytyte,a former president of Zagare Youth Club. Simona is at University in Vilnius. I met both before when Simona visited the Uk sponsored by Lithuania Link. Because of the distance, Simona was acting as a representative from her community. The Director of Naryshkin`s Palace had been willing to travel down to Vilnius to meet but it would have meant returning late in the evening On her behalf, she had asked Alex to check if we were happy that they use some of the money for smoke alarms for the children`s rooms and we felt we could only agree this request. We presented Alex and Simona with a dummy cheque which represented the donation paid via Lithuania Link to the young people in the youth club and Children`s Home in Zagare. I have been promised info on and photos of events they have arranged with the help of the Sunshine Appeal funding and I hope to add these to the website in the near future.