Local men aid charity mission to Belarus

August 31, 2010

by Brónagh Murphy

Volunteers from a Newry charity will travel to Belarus this week to embark on an ambitious project to help mentally disabled adults and pregnant teenagers.  

The team of fourteen volunteers from WEast Chernobyl will spend two weeks in the poverty-stricken country, developing shelters, working with the disabled and distributing aid.

The main project the charity will undertake is at Pukhovichi Adult Asylum, where the volunteers will work with adults suffering from severe disabilities.

Brian Fitzpatrick is one of the charity’s founders who will travel on the charity mission.  He explained to The Examiner how the team of volunteers aims to assist  the mentally disabled patients housed in that institute.

“The team will be split into two.  One team will be working to improve and renovate the building while the other group will work with the patients on a mental health programme,” Brian explained.

During this programme, a number of individuals will be selected to accompany the team on a day trip from the asylum.  This, Brian says, may not seem like much, but most have never been outside the Institute’s gates before.

Brian outlined the charity’s aims for the future and hopes this year’s project will develop and by next year more volunteers will join the team and travel with them on the two-week assignment.

“Long term we are looking at building a ‘half-way house’ for people who should never have been inside the institute at all,” he said.

Orphanage 5

The team will also undertake an ambitious project in Orphanage 5 in the country’s capital city of Minsk.

Here the orphanage has dedicated one floor of its building to house pregnant teenagers.  These vulnerable women have no family support and the charity is involved in developing the building to offer suitable accommodation to the mothers and their children.


Brian has been involved in charity work in Belarus for around fourteen years and together with Pat Craven and Gerard Duffy, founded the WEast Chernobyl charity in 2008.

They have travelled to Belarus a number of times and have been actively involved in improving the conditions for many disabled adults and orphaned children in the country.

This year the team has gone one step further and has organised the collection and tranportation of a lorry load of vital supplies to the country.    These include building supplies as well as furniture, clothes, shoes, toys and nursery goods.

The charity is extremely grateful to all those who helped with this project.

“Without the great support from organisations, businesses and individuals here in the North and the South then WEast would never have been able to undertake any of its charitable work,” Brian said.

On behalf of the charity, Brian extended thanks to all those involved: Sam Feely and Frank Carragher who undertook driving the lorry load of materials to Belarus; Keenan Transport which supplied a trailer through the efforts of Brian McAnuff of McAnuff transport; the staff of the Grand Vue Hotel, Omeath, The Europa Hotel, Belfast, Greenan’s Pub, Kilcoo; McCoy’s Bar, Newry; The Bank Bar management, Newry and The Cosy Bar Newtownhamilton; Adrian Mullan, Tipperary Water; M & M Refrigeration; Abbey CBS, Newry; Dineen Office Supplies, Newry; St Dallan’s Primary School, Warrenpoint; Deeds of Mercy, Newry who all donated materials or funds to this worthy cause over the last year.

A word of thanks to Gladys and her staff at Newry Salvation Army charity shop.

Without the support of individuals then WEast would not have progressed to where it is now: Marie Barr, Bessbrook, Brian and Jacqueline Muckian, Silverbridge, Bernie Doyle, Camlough, Matt McLoughlin, Nu-clean, Damian McGrath, Seatruck,  Warrenpoint,  Martin Slevin SCA Packaging, Warrenpoint, Walter Murphy, Newry, Eamon McArdle, Newry, Gerry Fitzpatrick, Armagh,  Seamus Fitzpatrick, St Mary’s Girls High School, Newry, Hugo Fegan, Warrenpoint, Mrs McMahon, Newry and Mickey Mallon, Bessbrook.  A special thanks to Mark Pearce for all the photographic work.


Next month a youth section of the charity will be established, aimed at 14 to 19 year olds who would like to get involved.

John Donnelly from Guildford and Gabriel McCoy from Hilltown are the main leaders of this new venture, while Colette Ruddy of Newry Volunteers, Ballybot House, Newry, is helping the group in giving opportunities for all ages to help WEast  with various new important posts. This help will mean WEast can continue to expand its activities over the coming years.

Information about the group can be obtained by emailing or from contact Colette Ruddy at 028 30262037.

The group would like to wish a speedy recovery to founder Pat Craven and lorry driver Frank Carrager as they recover after recent hospital treatment.

To everyone who has donated help, funds or materials we thank you for making something worthwhile happen, we would not have succeeded without you!  We hope this support will continue when we begin again on the 22nd October 2010 for work in Belarus in 2011, details of venue and meeting in local press at beginning of October. New volunteers are always welcome no matter what your age.