Zagare Orphanage & Lithuania Link
Zagare & Vilnius, Lithuania
by Lindsey Menzies
Thanks a million to all those who contributed to this cause before our trip in March.
We were able to take over 100 backpacks (donated by George Mackie at Football Heaven) each of which contained:
A full pencil case & colouring books – donated by Royal Bank of Scotland staff
Jotters & Crayons – donated by Margaret Stirling & Crayola
Toiletries -donated by Jilly Gairns and colleagues at Ethicon, and Johnson & Johnson Sweets and Irn Bru – donated by Jim Rowbothom & Kirkcaldy
TA Clothes – donated by RBS staff and various others
Scarves and badges – donated by Warwickshire TA
12 footballs & kits – donated by Football heaven
Cuddly toys – donated by Boots; ·
Oh yeah, and a 3-foot tall Tweedy pie…
Bought over there were 2 TVs and CD players, funded in part by the sale of a bunch of laptops donated by McSheep, while other CD players etc were donated by Ian Black and Ravenous Rob.
I was overwhelmed by the response and generosity, as were the other people involve in the project. Sorting all the stuff into rucksacks for each kid was hard work (apparently) but a lot of fun. The appeal also bought match tickets for 50 kids, mentally handicapped adults and their supervisors (plus transport), which was hopefully a great experience, especially as they won.
On the Tuesday before the Lithuania vs Scotland match, we gathered at the Radisson Hotel in Vilnius, the capital. The hotel had generously provided us with use of their main conference room and catering for the party. There was a mountain of rucksacks, footballs and stuffed toys in the room as well as all the party food and balloons etc.
Our guests were 12 kids from an orphanage in the rural north of the country and the look on their faces as they walked in was heart-warming. They were amazingly well behaved, and probably a bit over-awed by us kilted eejits and the TV crew (Chick Young and the BBC Scotland Reporting team) as well as the local press and photographers.
Of course we soon had them misbehaving to a reasonable degree, and only suffered a narrow defeat in the balloon fights.
We also played host to Simona and Tomas, 2 teenagers from Zagare, a run-down village on the border with Latvia. Simona is going to take a journalism course at Uni in Vilnius and Tomas is President of the Zagare Youth Club, as well as being the fourth fastest 1500 metre runner in Lithuania, despite being only sixteen. Ian Black raised £1000 for these two kids and for the Home in Zagare by totally abusing his body for an entire week before the trip. He, in a Tartan Army shock horror story first, got himself sponsored for a week off the drink. The appeal also presented Simona with a laptop, which she is using to good effect, having got 100% in her recent big English exam. This is a first for her school. Ian is going to visit Zagare at the end of June, having helped persuade the British Ambassador and the British Council to take an interest. He has been asked to prepare a report for the British Council and the Ambassador is visiting with him.
A few hours later we bid farewell to them all, most of us more than a bit teary after Simona managed a lovely thank-you speech in English.
This is the letter that the Home in Zagare sent. Hankies at the ready.
TO ALL THE TARTAN ARMY MEMBERS WHO HELPED WITH THE SUNSHINE APPEAL DONATION TO LITHUANIA LINK IN ZAGARE
Thank you for the joyful and happy moments that you gave us with your sincere gifts. Your support gave us a chance to spend our leisure more meaningful and variously. We felt your hearts` warmness and love for other people. Thank you, dear people.
On behalf of the all the children and teachers in the Boarding school in Zagare. Headmistress Angele Kareckiene
We then moved on to an orphanage in Vilnius. The British Embassy kindly transporting all the donations, a healthy party, and us – buffet again provided by the Radisson.
Approaching the home was bit daunting as it was in a dirt-poor part of the city, and was itself surrounded by a high, barbed-wire wall and electric gates. Once through the gates, I think we were all shocked by the run-down state of the place.
However, when we entered the home we could see the effort they’d all put in. To our surprise there were rows of seats in a long room to which we were shown. Although we’d just walked in carrying all the rucksacks, food etc, like a bunch of loony kilted Santas, the next half an hour was spent with them entertaining us! The kids put on a show and some dance routines, all of which looked well rehearsed, and had even baked some local cake-like stuff for us.
Eventually we got around to handing out the rucksacks and starting the party. We also managed to bore them all by playing numerous Scottish songs on a new CD system that we’d brought.
We’d also brought a new TV, and I found myself explaining that we’d bought them in Vilnius and hadn’t brought them with us. When I had to then explain that we weren’t taking the TV & CD back to Scotland with us, the woman I was talking to couldn’t believe it. Near tears, she explained that some of the kiddies hadn’t even seen a TV before.
Eventually we trooped out, singing “We’re no awa’ tae bide awa”, which was probably a bit of a lie, except of course for Ian, but never mind.
I now look back on that day as incredibly rewarding, but a bit sad. That such a small effort was so appreciated is an overwhelming thought, but to have been there to see it was a privilege for all of us. I really hope that those kids will get some joy out of all the stuff that was donated. In fact, I know they will. We may have looked daft, but our hearts were in the right place…..on our sleeves, in common with the rest of the Tartan Army. Thanks again.
As well as the parties, backpacks etc a donation of £1,000 was made from the Appeal for the benefit of young people and children in Zagare, a small town in the north of Lithuania. The aim initially was to help Lithuania Link (a UK based Charity) meet their target of £1500 to fund the exchange trip for Simona and Tomas. As they achieved this without Sunshine Appeal support it was felt that the sum raised could be used for the benefit of other young people in Zagare as well as Tomas and Simona. (They are President and ex-President of the Youth Club there. ) Lithuania Link intend to administer the donation in a way that will allow a large number of children and young people of Zagare to have a treat of some kind. An overnight trip to the seaside has been suggested by them or something of that ilk. They will be informing us what they plan to arrange and will probably ask Simona and Tomas for their ideas.
The following was agreed with Lithuania Link:-
The donation to be administered by Lithuania Link. The donation to be for the direct benefit of children and young people in Zagare. An amount of £100 each be available for Tomas and Simona during their visit to Cumbria /UK, to purchase treats or educational items. The remainder to be used for activities and items usually unavailable to young people and children from Zagare. Discussion with Sunshine Appeal organisers prior to above proceeding for acceptance of proposals. A duplicate cheque for the amount was presented to Simona and Tomas in Vilnius with best wishes from all contributors to the Sunshine Appeal.