After spending nearly a week with their different host families from across Rainy River District, the 11 children from Belarus were reunited Saturday at a picnic at Pither’s Point Park.
Organized by the Rainy River Multicultural Association, the picnic was the first organized event in which all the children and their host families could get together.
After a morning of shopping in Fort Frances, the children and their new “families” headed to Pither’s Point for an afternoon of socializing, eating, and swimming.
A large spread of fruit, baked goods, and hot dogs awaited the children, who all seemed to have a great time.
The picnic also was a chance for all the host families to share their experiences of the first week with their guests.
“[Andre] is fitting in well,” said Allan Empey, who along with his wife, Linda, and seven children, have taken the eight-year-old into their Devlin home for his six-week stay in the district.
“He uses a lot of hand signals to tell us what foods he does and doesn’t like. He’s caught on real quick,” Empey added.
Yuri, 11, also is getting along great with his host family, Wes and Olive Friesen of Emo.
“He’s pretty good,” Friesen said. “He likes playing soccer and hockey, and using the riding mower.”
Gregory Beller, son of Albert and Linda Beller of Rainy River, related what is was like to have someone in their home who does not understand English.
“It’s funny. It’s sometimes hard to tell them things but it’s all right,” he said.
Tanya Demenchouk, the translator who travelled with the children from Belarus, only had positive things to say about their experience since arriving last Tuesday.
“All the kids are doing very well,” she noted. “They phone me if they have any problems communicating.”
Demenchouk, who is staying with Susan and Dr. Ewan Affleck in Rainy River, said she sometimes receives calls from the younger children, who are still a little homesick.
Veronica, 10, one of the children who knew a little English, was eager to talk of her stay. “I like to bicycle, swim, and music,” she said.
Heidi Ivall, with whom Veronica is staying, noted that when referring to her home town of Chaussy in Belarus, the youngster had told her, “Chaussy, no comfort. Canada, comfort.”
Besides $50 provided to each child for their Saturday morning shopping spree, the Rainy River Multicultural Association provided the food for the picnic.
Each child also was given a backpack full of items they could bring home to their families back in Belarus, such as yarn, knitting needles, and small tool kits.
Vergil Stinson and her grandchildren also prepared grab bags with bubble gum and other fun items for the children.
The association raised money to bring the children here through their late-night bingo. Normally responsible for planning “Culturama,” it opted to do something different this year.
The children visited Drs. Lidkea, Elliott and Lidkea for eye care on Monday morning, and will receive dental care from Dr. Danylchuk at the Fort Frances Dental Centre on July 18.
The next outdoor field trip for the children will be to Joyce Young’s Trail’s End Riding Stable on July 6.