The nine small children sat at the long wooden table in the kitchen of a home in the Mogilev region of Belarus. They chatted happily as they slurped their tea with spoons. The table was spread with sweets and cakes. Their foster mother, Tamara, moved around the table filling plates while her husband Alfred reminded them to watch their manners in a gentle, no-nonsense voice. It all was so natural and comfortable. It was hard for me to imagine that two years ago, there was no family at all -- that each child had been living in a bleak orphanage.
It took a bit of a miracle to bring this family together. About three years ago, Tamara and Alfred Savin had a newspaper delivered to them by mistake. They almost didn't open it -- Alfred's position as an economics teacher kept him buried in books and grading papers, and Tamara was working full time as a diamond polisher. When Tamara finally looked at the newspaper she was stunned by the story of a baby boy who had been rescued from a latrine at a local milk farm. His mother had given birth prematurely while on the job and had abandoned the child. Her coworkers found little Valeriy where she left him, wrapped him in rags, and took him to the hospital where doctors were able to save his life. The Savins were moved by the story . . and Valeriy -- who appears in the right corner of the photograph wearing green and blue coveralls -- became the first of their nine foster children with the help of CCPI's foster family program.
You would think that a family with 9 small children would be chaotic, but Tamara's warmth is matched by Alfred's professorial formality and sense of order. The children played in the yard with abandon, but at Alfred's word they ran inside, removed and lined up their shoes, washed their hands and sat at the table. Alfred led them in prayer before they took their tea. After tea, the children led us to the parlor where they entertained us with songs and poetry, and played Belarusian traditional instruments. As we were leaving, Alfred took myself and Sherrie Douglas aside to let us know that he had the house inspected, and the electrical system did not pass code. By luck, Chernobyl Children's Project International had a team of volunteer builders from Ireland working at the Vesnova Asylum, half an hour away. Adi Roche was able to contact their head electrician and arrange for him to bring a team out that week to fix the problem.
Alfred and Tamara Savin are a kind, capable, and hardworking couple who had room in their hearts to raise children without parents of their own. We are committed to finding more parents like the Savins, and taking as many children as possible out of orphanages and placing them in families.