The Buryi Family in Minsk, Belarus

For the geographically challenged, Belarus can be found sandwiched between Poland and the old USSR. Apparently, freed from the idealistic but corrupt systems of the old regime, you'd expect that this region of the world would have begun to flourish. Sadly, reports suggest that bad habits are creeping back. State controls have begun to creep back into the media, for example, and the congregations of Christian churches are being required to register before they can meet together for simple prayer meetings. Sounds rather too familiar? If this isn't enough to make life tough, bear in mind that Belarus was hit harder than Ukraine when Chernobyl melted down in 1986 and, to this day, much of the farming areas are still in a state of recovery. Indeed, further back, the Holocaust of World War 2 decimated the Jewish population in Belarus. Check out what's happening right now at Radio Free Europe.

The Buryi Family lives in Minsk and includes Vladimir and his wife Yulia who are both musicians of high calibre. Vladimir is recognised as being one of the best flautists in Belarus having been offered international work in the past whilst Yulia has played piano in the conservatoire of Belarus. However, these days, concerts are few and far between which means money is in short supply. Much of their time is spent helping to lead along the worship at their local Jewish Messianic church. Yes, that means our friends have close family who lived thorugh the Holocaust. Of course, finding musicians struggling to get a gig is common enough in most countries but, here, we are talking top quality performers unable to find an opening and an income. Both the artist and the audience suffering. A situation where our support can, at least, help the former.
Vladimir and Yulia have three sons Zhenya, David and Phillip to support in these times of need. The juniors boys can be seen in the picture on the left along with their grandmother, Vladimir's mother. With a family to support, you can imagine that all our money goes on food, clothes and heating. Mind you, sounds like the old boxes come in handy as David, the one with the gleeful look on his face, is already showing signs of musical talent. He bangs on everything and anything he can and has to be dragged away from his 'drums'. That's our boy!

We were introduced to the Buryi family by The International Aid Trust who support numerous people across Eastern Europe. They started, literally, by fundraising to fill trucks with parcels of food, clothing, etc. which they drove out to the Ukraine from their base in Chorley. Pretty quickly, it was apparent that the need was great. Undaunted, the organisation has grown in terms of both the fundraising (with, for example, a number of charity shops in our area) and the people helped (with work in a number of countries). The team is still small but they aim to make every penny count with only 5% of their income spent on administration and all of our money being passed on to families. This is an amazing feat. Furthermore, when the money/goods get out there, they aim to distribute via local churches in order that they can make sure that it reaches 'the have nots' directly and not via 'the haves'. Needless to say, if you wish to help them directly, Mr Kite would be chuffed to bits.

The Extended Family

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