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November 23, 2004

Instructor leads effort to aid Russian deaf, blind

From: Jackson Clarion Ledger - Jackson,MS,USA - Nov 23, 2004

By Lora Hines

It has become David Green's mission to improve a school for deaf and blind students in a rural Russian town.

On Monday, he and Anna Sovoleva, an interpreter for the Russian Peace Foundation, told area Kiwanis clubs how their donations had improved the students' lives.

Local Kiwanis clubs began donating to the Children's House for Deafblind in Sergiev Posad outside of Moscow a couple of years ago. Last year, their money bought a new tractor so the school could grow its own food.

"So many changes have happened since David and his groups began coming during these years," Sovoleva said. "It's hard to remember them all."

Green, a vocational instructor for the state Department of Rehabilitation Services, was among a dozen people who first went to the school in 2001. Since then, they have taken clothes, Braille typewriters, Braille typing paper, Braille watches, canes and hearing-aid batteries.

Last year, Green and his group designed a playground and took special beeping soccer balls and goals to the students.

"The only way you can reach the heart of these kids is playing with them," Sovoleva said. "They are true orphans."

The school finally has enough winter clothes for its 202 residents so they all can be outside at the same time, she said. The students won't have to share.

"I want to think this project is a continuous one," Sovoleva said. "Smiles on (the students') faces is the highest reward."

Green said it first was important to give the students clothes and help them feed themselves. They then restored a dilapidated greenhouse where the students grow tomatoes and vegetables year-round.

The next phase of Green's plan includes equipping a vocational building, which has been started. He teaches deaf and blind Mississippians to work. Green wants to do the same thing at the Russian school.

"We wanted a long-term relationship with the school," he said.

Under the communist regime, handicapped people were guaranteed jobs, Sovoleva said. But businesses have become privatized and owners don't have to hire handicapped workers, she said.

"They will get some pension," Sovoleva said. "It wouldn't be enough for all their meals."

Kiwanis member Doyle Russell said helping the Russian school "fits a lot into our objectives. Our number one priority is helping children."

For information or to donate, contact Green at (601) 924-3017.

Copyright © 2004, The Clarion-Ledger.