A Talking Stick?


I’m still smiling about the magnifier we provided for the 102 blind and visually impaired children at Molodzyechna in Belarus 🙂
But now there’s a way we could help the blind children move around the school — or anywhere.

Blind people often use a walking stick — but now there’s a “talking stick.”
It’s not really a stick at all — it’s a lightweight pocket-sized electronic device that runs on a pair of regular AAA batteries.
It uses ultrasonic waves to sense what’s ahead — more than 9 feet ahead.

Then it warns the child of the obstacle!
Or — if the area is too noisy (or hush-hush quiet, like a church or a museum) — it can communicate by vibration only.
(It also comes with optional headphones.)

The talking stick can see better than you or I!
And there’s an “escape” mode that helps the child find small gaps, narrow passages, to get through even a crowded room or other congested area.

There are too many blind children at the school to provide a talking stick for all of them.
But if the boarding school had 10 units, they could train all the children to use them — and then provide talking sticks on an “as needed” basis — like when they take the children out on field trips and the like.

A single talking stick, at the current rate of exchange, costs $373.92.
I wonder if you would like to help us provide one of these.
Not many of us could give $373.92, but maybe you could go halfway, with a gift of $186.96.
Or three friends could give $124.64. Or four could give $93.48.

Of course, whatever you give will make a huge difference for a blind child, and the 95 workers who are giving their lives to care for them.
I would love to surprise the children at Molodzyechna with this amazing gift when I return to Belarus.
But I depart on May 14th, which doesn’t give us much time.

So please let me know right away what you feel you can do by then.
And I thank you, from my heart.
(If you want to go back in time and experience our very first visit to this school, here it is.)

Much love,
Doug Brendel

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For some very special children…


You should be proud. These photos, from 3 days ago, show your compassion at work.

Our “Response of the Heart” team in Minsk co-organized a Festival dedicated to the “International Day of Down Syndrome Children.”
We partnered with Belarusian Down Syndrome Youth Organization and the Palace of Children and Youth in Minsk.

Thanks to friends like you supporting New Thing so faithfully and generously, our team was able to give every child a box full of gifts — plus big stuffed animals!

The event was very touching and colorful,” Kozovaya says. “It brought lots of joy to the children!”

All of this happened just one day after Kozovaya and her team received the latest loads of humanitarian aid to distribute throughout Belarus:
From Germany: 12 tons of clothing, toys, furniture, sewing machines, wheelchairs
From the U.S.: 14 tons of boxes full of presents for children (just in time for the Festival!)

Thank you so much for reaching out so graciously through New Thing to the people of Belarus. I am grateful for you. God bless you!

Much love,
Doug Brendel


What you (don’t) see is (more than) what you get


We’ve already celebrated the “magnifier.”
This is the equipment we bought for the visually impaired children at the boarding school in Molodzyechna, Belarus.

But now that it’s installed and working, the staffers there are finding that it’s even more fabulous.
This machine also helps totally blind children — by reading text to them.
In fact, as you’ll see in this little 69-second video, a blind child can listen to the text on headphones while a visually impaired child simultaneously READS the text, enlarged and highlighted, on the screen.

(At about 50 seconds, the camera seems to drop — this is just a momentary video problem, as the staffer helps the child get his headphones on.)

When I first saw this video, I honestly thought I was hearing a staff person reading to the child.
But no, that’s THE MACHINE reading aloud. In beautiful, perfect Russian.
Pretty amazing.

I cannot fully express my thanks to all those who gave so graciously and generously to provide this incredible device to the blind and partially blind children of Molodzyechna.
There is no possible way they could have ever experienced such a phenomenal luxury — in their culture, in their economy — without the vision and the open-heartedness of friends like you.

Much love,
Doug Brendel

She – and they – will be delighted


Just a quick note of thanks.
I asked for help in giving “The Great Kozovaya” a birthday present – a shoe dryer, a closet, and a TV set – to be given in her honor to the shelter for abused and abandoned children in her hometown.

Friends responded generously, giving a total of $1,520. The goal is met!
Today I’ll notify Kozovaya of this lovely gift, and she will have the joy of calling Natalia, the shelter director, to let her know that help is on the way.

Thank you to all who gave, and to all who have given with such an open heart down through the years.
Your compassion is changing lives in Belarus, and I am grateful.

Much love,
Doug Brendel

Birthday update

I posted a few days ago, on the birthday of “The Great Kozovaya,” and asked friends to give toward the needs of a children’s shelter in her hometown of Ushachi. As of today, generous friends have given a total of $1336 toward the $1520 goal. Thank you all! Just $184 to go!




SEE what you did!


A huge thank-you to all who gave toward the magnifier for the visually impaired children of Molodzyechna!
The equipment has arrived — and before they even fired it up for a test run, they wanted to send you a photo of it, with their thanks and love!
The machine doesn’t look very fancy, but it’s even more versatile than we thought.

  • It can scan documents and read them aloud.
  • It can super-enlarge (on a separate display) the image of anything scanned.
  • It can even transfer data to a Braille display — for the benefit of totally blind children.

THIS IS GOING TO BE GREAT for the kids in this boarding school.


Thank you again!

Much love,
Doug Brendel

Happy Birthday to “The Great Kozovaya”!


Today is the birthday of the woman we call “The Great Kozovaya.”
Liudmila Kozovaya is 66 today. She could be retired, living on a pension.
But she is giving her life to care for the needy ones of her country.

She leads our “Response of the Heart” team in Minsk.
It’s difficult, often tedious work.
But she is unfailingly cheerful.

Over the past year, Kozovaya’s leadership enabled you to make a beautiful impact in Belarus:

  • You provided classroom equipment for 113 children with severe speech disorders in the specialized orphanage at Novogrudok.
  • You supported Pastor Sasha’s daily feeding program for the homeless of Minsk.
  • You built a children’s educational kitchen in the “Domik” after-school center at the children’s shelter in Zhodino.
  • You provided magnifying equipment for nearly 100 visually impaired children at the boarding school in Molodzyechna.
  • You replaced an aged warehouse with 2 brand-new shipping containers which are serving beautifully.
  • And you gave a foster family 2 gifts they were giddy with joy over: a lawnmower … and a ping pong table!

You also gave Kozovaya a wonderful surprise birthday gift last year: providing 3 commercial freezers for a boarding school for children with respiratory ailments at Bogushevsk. (That was fun! Here’s the photo report from that day.)

Today, I’d like you to help me give The Great Kozovaya another great birthday present.
In her hometown, there’s a shelter for abused and abandoned children.
Kristina visited it last month. (Here’s that photo report.)
The director, Natalia, is doing her best. But in such a primitive building, they could really use a TV set.
And a shoe dryer. Even a built-in closet would be a tremendous improvement.

I’d like to present all three to the shelter as a gift honoring The Great Kozovaya’s 66th birthday.
It will take a total of $1,520.
Please consider what part you could play … Maybe be 1 of 10 friends giving $152. Or 1 of 20 friends giving $76.
Whatever you give today, Tuesday, we’ll apply toward Kozovaya’s birthday gift to the shelter in her hometown.

And you know what? She will giggle with delight. Because that’s just how she is.
I hope to hear from you today.
Thanks for journeying with us!
Much love,
Doug Brendel

Subscribe to the New Thing Blog
Donate online here
Sign up to auto-give monthly
To send a check: New Thing, 403 Linebrook Rd., Ipswich MA 01938
Thanks again!