On this trip I was accompanied by Mrs Monika Barking on behalf of the Caritas Association Dinslaken. Since we were only allowed to stay in the country for 5 days without a visa, this was the length of time available. However, the to-do-list was very long!


When we arrived at the airport of Minsk, Pater Vitalij, Director of the Caritas Association Belarus, was already waiting for us. We had brought German children books for those children who were learning German and agreed to supply additional material.

The journey from Minsk to Grodno took four hours by car so that we arrived at our accommodation - the Monastery - in the middle of the night. The next day, we rushed to the district hospital of Grodno to talk to two medical doctors from Karakalpakstan. They had arrived for a two-week training programme of diagnosis and therapy for deaf-mute children. Following this training programme they were supposed to be able to carry out their tasks independently by means of an audiometer that we had purchased from the company Maico in Berlin. All outstanding questions were clarified.

We thoroughly checked further functioning of this very large hospital, which is in charge of 300,000 inhabitants and has received various medical equipment from the town of Dinslaken over the last years. We also promised to provide for help and support within our means in the future.

Our next stop was Ross, 60 km from Grodno. It was a great pleasure to see an almost completed object, the ‘Social Rehabilitation’, also named ‘House of Mercy’. It was the wish of the entire diocese and has now been accomplished. We had arranged for a large 20-ton transporter from Dinslaken to Grodno containing interior equipment.

Our last stop was the Tuberculosis Hospital in Grodno - being the largest project supported by the town of Dinslaken at the moment.

Monika Barking and myself were devastated when we realized that this clinic was in a disastrous state! Since it would not be possible to restore the building, only demolition and reconstruction would make sense. Construction works of a new building had been started five years earlier but had to be stopped due to insufficient financial means. Dr. Halina Gieda has been our contact person at the TB Clinic for many years. She organised for a tour of all the rooms – we were not able to conceal the horror we felt! During a tea break following our tour one leading physician made the remark, ‘You understand the difficulties we have to face every day!’

How could one possible help and console in such a situation? We promised to stay in close contact and help as much as possible.

This journey to Belarus made it clear how important and valuable the Leprosy and Tuberculosis Project Dinslaken was aboard.