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Visiting Nurses of St Elisabeth Convent: Victor Churilo and the People He Helps


People often find their true calling later in life. Sometimes the work they choose to do does not coincide with the kinds of work that are deemed typical of males or females.

Our first guest is Victor Churilo. Victor is 51, and he serves in the Visiting Nurse Service of St Elisabeth Convent. In short, he is a visiting nurse.

He visits those whom we won't see in the streets. These people have a hard time walking, standing, and even sitting. Some of them are confined to bed. LADY.TUT.BY did an interview with Victor and his patient Denis Neverko.

All Wives Want Their Husbands To Earn More

Victor treats his ministry in the Visiting Nurse Service as a vocation. It is very close to what he used to do in the past. He worked as a junior nurse in an infirmary. He had planned to become a doctor but he couldn't. Later, he learned to be a stonemason and worked as a builder for a long time, then started working in an industrial plant, and in the 1990s he even had to set up his own shop. Confronted with difficulties in his personal life, Victor went to the Convent:

— I found the faith in God, Jesus Christ, and I wanted to be closer to him. Difficulties in my life and deep sorrow made me come here, — Victor says. — I did it to recover spiritually, mentally, and physically.


Nowadays Victor is extremely busy 6 days a week. He looks after 5 patients: four males and one female.

— I visit three of my patients regularly, and two others on request. I get to my first patient at 8:30 am. We have a conversation; I ask him about his current health condition and mood. After that, I do sanitization, change the patient's clothes, and feed him, if necessary. I go to my second patient in the afternoon, and to my third patient in the evening. Each visit takes up two to three hours on average. Sunday is my day-off.

According to Victor, the Visiting Nurse Service of St Elisabeth Convent encompasses three fields of ministry:

— Missionary work. We help people to get closer to God and to know themselves better. We can invite a priest from the Visiting Nurse Service to a patient's home, if the patient wants us to, and the priest will perform the Sacraments of Confession and Communion. This is where the healing of the spirit, the soul, and the body of a believer begins. Loving God and neighbor is the basis of our ministry.

— Social work. We do everything a person requires for a normal and comfortable life: feeding, bathing, buying food supplies and medicines. We talk with our patients and read books to them.

— Medical assistance. Every brother and sister has basic medical training. We have meetings and classes on exercise therapy in the Convent on a weekly basis. We do the exercises that we have learned together with our patients to the best of their abilities and health condition.


Victor emphasizes that money is not the primary goal for a person who has decided to help other people.

— There are many people in our Visiting Nurse Service who do their duties voluntarily and for free. The remuneration that we receive is enough to subsist and to continue to help others. I know that all wives want their husbands to earn more. However, you receive much more spiritually when you do good to other people. Giving is more rewarding than receiving.

We hope that the Lord will bring to us another person who is ready to help.

It is hard to find a male nurse.

When asked why there are more female nurses than male nurses, Victor replies that a woman is more capable of tolerating the difficulties of this job thanks to her innate patience, mercy, and love.

— However, men are also very welcome here! It is physically hard for a woman to care for a male patient. Just imagine her trying to take a man from his wheelchair and put him into a bathtub. It requires physical strength of a man. Again, there are men who don't want women to look after them. This is the kind of problem that I have to face now. I am torn between two male patients who prefer to have a man as their nurse. That is why we hope that the Lord will bring to us another person who is ready to help.

Victor is not in the very least embarrassed that he apparently does a "female job." It may even be emotionally taxing to tend to a person who needs help. That is why a nurse must know how to manage his or her feelings:

— That's hard work. At the same time, you obtain spiritual joy as a result of what you do. Knowledge of the Gospel and the lives of the saints helps to find proper words in difficult situations. When you know that your assistance is essential for that person, your patience and humility, your love coupled with prayer, help you to get rid of unnecessary thoughts and emotions.

I used to be weaker than now. By serving God with love, we become stronger spiritually. Our lives become genuinely meaningful from the spiritual standpoint. It is what I do that makes me stronger.

"Victor Is Closer To Me Than My Own Family"

Denis Neverko has been paralyzed for four years, two of which Victor comes to him. He jumped from a dam into water in an unknown place and fractured his spine.



— It was extremely hot, and I wanted to bathe. I jumped into the water headfirst and hit a cement block. It turned out to be a shallow place.

Denis feels comfortable with the big and strong Victor. The man admits that Victor has become his good friend whom he can trust even in the most difficult situations.

— Victor is kind and responsible. I can always rely on him. Apart from that, I feel more comfortable when a man, not a woman, looks after me. I am very happy that our paths have crossed.

Denis learned about the Visiting Nurse Service of St Elisabeth Convent from his friend. He contacted Sister Anna, the Service's head. He told her that he was fully paralyzed, and explained what kind of a nurse he needed. They agreed to send Brother Victor to him. Denis was hoping that the nurse would be a sociable and understanding person, which is vital for people like him who lead a secluded life.

Victor is closer to me than my own family. I started to believe in God thanks to him. I used to be far from the faith but now I can feel that I change and so does my worldview. I start to discover alternative sides of life. I start to interpret not only the things that happen to me but also other things in a different way.



Denis has had more live conversations since the time Victor started visiting him but he complains that he still needs more live conversations anyway.

— I talk with people like me via Skype, VKontakte and Facebook messages, and even in the Odnoklassniki social network but it's not enough. I’m happy even if my friends visit me once a month, although they used to come more often. Now they have families and jobs — a lot to do. I get that, and I'm okay with that. Right now, I'm looking for a job. I would like to become a call center operator. I have worked in this position already. I will be able to talk with people on the phone. Plus, I'll be able to earn some money and kill some time.

"Summer Was The Last Time I Was Outdoors"

For Denis, every day is just like the other. He spends his time in front of a computer, which he controls via a webcam. He can seldom get outdoors — summer was the last time Denis was outdoors.

— Right now, given the weather, it's impossible to get out. We get outdoors only if we are invited to various events. For instance, Victor and I visited a lecture by Alexander Makarchuk who is completely paralyzed, too. He showed us how people with disabilities can use a computer thanks to wireless management.

Alexander Makarchuk was completely paralyzed after a poisoning, which led to the damage of central nervous system. He was considering a suicide but instead became a sysadmin and worked for Russian companies, and then went on to be an IT recruiter. Alexander controls his computer with voice and teaches other disabled people. —editor's note.

I am interested in a whole lot of various things, and I would like to be everywhere — in the cinema, in the circus, in theaters. I want to go anywhere instead of sitting home. However, it is easier said than done. First of all, I need an escort, and Victor isn't always available. Secondly, theater tickets are expensive. I cannot afford them on my pension. My budget is planned in advance and it mostly consists of hygiene accessories and medicines, which I have to buy monthly. My parents are retired, too. Thirdly, I need transportation. This is why whenever I go outdoors, it's like a holiday.



According to Denis, if a disabled person can move his arms, he is more likely to lead a normal life. He can operate a wheelchair. People like Denis cannot do it without help.

— I cannot dress, I cannot get into the wheelchair, someone has to do it for me. I cannot ride the wheelchair, either. There are many people like me. Other people don't even know us. People are locked in their rooms. With time, they create a world of their own, the boundaries of which are hard to break. People on the outside appear to be aggressive and hostile. We desperately need support and assistance not only from our families but also from other people… We have to live with our problems day by day. That is why it is important that we have people who don't allow us to close up in our own shells and empower us to keep living. I would like everyone to know that we exist. You just cannot see us.

An article by Tatiana Lemeshevskaya

Photos by Vladimir Bugay, TUT.BY

Translated from: https://lady.tut.by/news/life/565870.html




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