I graduated from Minsk University in 1984 as a biology and chemistry teacher. For 25 years I worked for the Zoological Institute in Minsk specialising in ectoparasites and carriers of infectious diseases. Every year from April to October I was to be found wandering around forests collecting specimens. I would spend the winter sitting over a microscope, identifying ticks, fleas and lice. My work took me all over Belarus to national parks and rivers and I even acquired a motor boat driving licence. My completed PhD in the cupboard but it never made it as far as the viva voce. However, during all those years, all I really wanted to do was to work in a kindergarten.
I got into biology by accident rather than by design because I applied to the same university course as my friend and was accepted. Sometime later I realised that I had made a mistake. Although the work was interesting, life under canvas, singing songs round the camp fire, living among nature etc, part of me hankered after something more. Three times I tried to leave the job and go to work in a kindergarten and three times my boss persuaded me not to.
Even while working in the institute, I was always organising events for my colleagues' children. I've always liked working with children and they respond to me. Then came the economic crisis and scientists were working practically unpaid so everyone was looking for a second job. At that time, the cleaner at the Belarusian Children’s Hospice had fallen ill and I was offered her job for several months. That's how I met Anna Garchakova, the director of BCH.
Anna and I had only had one conversation before she came up and offered me the job of children's activities leader. At first I didn't think she was serious, but she was and then she gave me just 3 days to decide. I accepted, although at the time I wasn't at all sure what was required of me or that I was the right person for the job as I have neither a medical nor a psychological background. I need not have worried. Everything went well and now I realise that those 25 years at the institute were simply a job. It wasn't until I came to BCH that I found my vocation. At BCH I work with lovely children, I can be creative (we sing, dance, do amateur theatricals and so on), and, most importantly, I treat the children like ordinary children, each one is different. The children like this and respond to it very well. I am extremely happy that fate led me to Anna Garchakova and that she helped to give my life meaning.
You can read more about the summer project here.