Friday, June 26, 2009

The Face of disapointment .......

My Last post I talked about the faces of Joy................Today I must share about the face of disappointment .....


I don't know when it happened, or just h0w it happened, but at some point in this journey, we were blessed with a third Daughter... The above is a photo of our three girls in the mountains.. Altynai had come from a very difficult start in life, and has done so well in the time she has been with us..


This summer was supposed to be an exciting one for all of us.. We had applied for a visa for her to spend the summer with us in Canada.. we felt it would be great for her English, as well as a tremendous boost to her . There is an entire group of youth not just Emma and Bekah that are looking forward to seeing her again... they got to know her on a trip over last spring.

This morning we got word that she has been turned down for the visa... despite the fact that she met all the requirements, and jumped through all the hoops, the answer was no... an arbitrary decision by someone in an office far from both of us that for all we know was just having a bad day... whats worse is that it appears that any appeal has to be submitted in writing, and will be looked at with in 21 days... by that time the summer would be over, It already took them a full month to process the first application...

All I can think about is how disappointed/devastated she will be right now.... life has struck her another blow... and this time from MY government.... I want to say so much more on that , but I will hold my tongue until I have a chance to discuss this decision with my Member of Parliament.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Faces of Joy

Sometimes I look back through the blog, and at times I can depress even myself... I think "Man I would not even want to read this every day"... not that these stories should not be told, Life for me in Central Asia is not all like that... Yes we see things every day that could rip you up inside, but every day we are bringing hope and Joy to those we come across... When we are there we can do things to bring instant relief to difficult situations, but not only that , We can go over the top..... I thought that I had better share some of the faces of JOY..... As I started to compile those , I realized that even in joy, many of the faces resembled sorrow and pain... I think that is because the emotions are so close... But when I examined it more, I found something... those photos of Joy that most resembled sorrow were of Joy that came from a release of fear or concern... they occurred when people were given homes to live in, food when they had none, or an operation that would save them a life of suffering...... these all brought tears, Parents cried when we provided education for there kids, grandparents cried when we provided operations for their grand children. and men cried when we provided beds for the Babushka's.... But what I love about what I do and the guys that I work with at PI, is that , a release from a difficult situation is not good enough.... I have a "Mandate" so to speak... to take it over the top.... to push past the simple relief and bring people to a place of true joy.... let me give you an example ...

I think of one man we helped ... he had his hand severely crushed and he needed surgery and physiotherapy to save his hand... He could not believe that we would find someone to help him and that he would not lose his hand... we paid all his medical bills, then just to push it over the top, on his last trip into the Dr, we sent him in to the capital, not in a crowded bus, but in a taxi ... with his wife, and paid for them to go out for supper in one of the best restaurants in town.... Now consider that this man had likely never taken a taxi into the city before, and very well could have never eaten in a restaurant before...I told them that this is the beginning of his new life, and it was time for he and his wife to celebrate... .this Was over the top... yes... was it over budget ...yes... was it extravagant... yes... but what it did was to validate for his wife that yes she to had suffered with fear and concern for their family, and that my friends are not just interested in the status qua, but exceedingly and abundantly more then you could ask or imagine.... That's what its all about.... I know that many of you get that, and that's why we have people that send in donations undesignated... that's how we are able to take a simple dream, and give it a little push over the top.... Here are a few more FACES OF JOY ....not just relief...


















Monday, June 22, 2009

Bragging rights .


So now I am claiming bragging rights... Many of you know Emma .... the quiet one... So quiet that she seldom even makes it into the blog . She has a hidden talent that I wanted to share with you today... She has been going through the photos on the blog from the last trip, and painting portraits from them..... I thought you might be interested in seeing some of her work.... you may remember some of these photo's ....





























































Sunday, June 21, 2009

From a different perspective .

I have had some interest in the storey behind the man hole... That will be Jengish's storey to tell one day, but for now I will tell you how I imagine it.......

One day there was an old man that fell into a very deep hole... He tried as he might to get out but could not figure out how ... Some would come along and talk to him and try to tell him all the things he did wrong to find himself living in such a hole, then others would want to help, but did not want to get dirty, so the would stand at a distance and throw their bread in the direction of the hole, and hope that some would make it to this poor old man....
Then one day an impulsive young man came along, and he wanted to help...so he jumped down into the hole with the old man.
The old man looked at him and said " you have brought me no food, no water, and what is worse we are now TWO down this hole..."
The Young man said ... "It's OK I have been in this hole many times before, you are not alone.... I know the way out... now follow me..".. and he lead the old man to a new way of life....



This is a storey that will repeat itself over and over, yet the answer is always the same... We need to do more then just throuw dough at a problem... we need people like our dreams agents..people like Jengish
that are willing to get down and dirty when they need to ........ As I stop and ponder the photo of the old man looking up out of the hole at the light , I realize that you could not take that shot unless you were in the hole with him.... life tends to have a different perspective when you meet people where they are at !

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Stay with me through the dark and bring me home !"

As we reach out to those throughout Central Asia that are living in the dark corners of society, It brings me great hope and comfort to know that we are not alone... You were there ... Over and over this is confirmed... At times, I have barrel head long into situations that are so far beyond my ability, yet You were there ... when I faced the storms You were there ....Even when Julie and the girls were not with me , I was not alone... You were there
From the moment I began this journey, You were there ....




video



Thank you to every one that continues to support the work we are doing either on a one time , or on going basses..... As darkness comes to our loved ones , I can share with them that for me You were there , and you will be there for them....



Proof in point is my post from a couple days ago I shared a need, and in only a couple days we are almost half way to meeting this need.... because You were there...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's OK he had to get up to answer the phone anyways....

Just after I mentioned about how much I like Skype, I had an opportunity to use it again... I was meeting with a group of Knitters today. These ladies knit for us bags and bags of beautiful blankets, outfits and teddy bears... You will see a lot of the blankets etc. time to time on the blog... We have taken the knitting to Guatemala, a couple countries in Central Asia and next week I am sending 4 or 5 hockey bags with the PI shop till you drop team that is heading for an orphanage in the Ukraine. I brought them some crafts from the orphans as well as a few photo's of there knitting as it was handed out, ...like the teddy bear that the little boy is holding on the header of this blog...
While showing photo's , many of them had Jengish in them, so they started asking questions about who he was and what he did for PI... they were quite fascinated that such a young man could make such an impact , or that he would be so willing to do this kind of work... I then looked at the time and saw it was 12:30 at night in Central Asia, and knew Jengish would be just getting in from working with the homeless, so we gave him a call...

The clash between modern technology, and the Ara that these ladies grew up in was amazing... they were so excited to talk to someone from the other side of the world, to be able to ask questions, and to , for a minute feel connected to him... One lady sat quietly with tears streaming down her face... 10105 Kilometers away as the crow flies, and Jenish's care and compassion for those that he helps shone through in real time........

Staying connected....

This is not an uncommon sight, especially in Central Asia ......what you don't see is that I am sitting in front of the computer talking on Skype at the time this photo was taken.
Since getting home, I have continued to keep in regular contact with our agents on the ground...Skype is a wonderful thing... have several calls a day, and I think I have spent about $8 in the last three weeks.... A far cry from when we first started going to Central Asia... I can remember when it would cost us $15 a minute.... You would try to write down everything you were going to say, then speak very fast.... One friend of ours was calling home and talked a little to fast, and a Russian voice came on the line and said " Please slow down, I am having a hard time following your conversation..." another friend another time did not hang the phone up properly, and the line was still open... $1500 later she realized that the phone was off the hook...oh my... fortunately we were able to talk that bill down to about $100.....

Yesterday we began the day with a phone call and finished the day with a phone call... both of which brought great joy to us... The first one ... well it is just not your time to know... , but the last one of the day I can tell you about...
I was just on line for a minute before going to bed to see if there was anything new, and the Skype rang.. It was Acel and family, it is always a blessing to talk to them, the girls are so cute, and I can visualize then all standing around the computer...... Then the surprise... It was Aigoola.. she had stopped at there house to meat up with them as they are taking her to the Dr in the capital for a check up... She sounded so strong, and her voice so clear... She just wanted to thank everyone that had a part in her resent surgery... she says that she fells better now then she has for a long time...
It was just a nice start and finish to the day.....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"After 4 or 5 days with no food, your body stops hurting !"

Every day I open email's from our friends in Central Asia, and every day my heart just sinks... There are just so many things that seem so little to us... things like $20 for a bit of food for someone that has not eaten for three of four days... you know.. the simple dreams.... This was a lot easier at one time because they were just names, but now they are friends.. they are people that we know and care about... It is easy to say to our workers, just give them the money, but I know full well that if they had it they would have already given it...
I remember saying to Jengish.." I really don't know how people can live on so little money here... everything is so expensive" his reply was disturbing...he said " It's really not that hard... after about 4 or 5 days with no food , your body stops hurting"... That was not the answer I wanted ... I wanted to hear of some great plan to make your dollars stretch... or of some wonderful program where people could get food in an emergency.... like a food bank....
We have even heard of cut backs at the baby orphanages... those least able to look after themselves, are now suffering from the consequences of the recession... Anya has been going in the last couple weeks and bringing juice and baby food to help out, but at a cost of $200 a week , it will only take a few more weeks, before that will come to an end.... Then what.. do we just say, "Don't worry , it will only hurt for 4 or 5 days !"? We are not, and likely will never be in a position to take over the responsibility of providing food for these babies, but something has to be done... I am thinking that even if we can help for a little while , for a set time frame, we could give the system there time to catch up and realize the short fall...
I think that maybe if I get the word out there, and see what comes in over the next week designated to baby food, divide that over the next three months, and that will have to be the budget....as it stands, here is what they need ..... it is from my last update from Our friend....

how Spend the money
baby orphanage juice (1litre*48.50 som) 61 litre*48.5= 2958.5som
baby orphanage baby food (1box*203.5som) 14boxes*203.5=2849som
baby orphanage baby food ( 1box* 258som) 6boxes*258=1548som
baby orphanage baby food (1box*223.5som) 9boxes*223.5=2011.5som
__________________TOTAL________9367som -%5=
8898.63som

Now in orphanage 88babys (one baby 100ml. juice of day) 1week need 61litre 600ml.
Baby food 4boxes of 1 day need 28 boxes

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reason #257 why we have to go back...

I decided it was time to change the header on the blog... As I was looking through the photo's to choose from, I came across this one...
This is a little child we found at the dump... When we first saw her, she was sitting off to the side of the pile watching as her Mom picked through the garbage trying to find supper for that night...

That day along with lunch, we brought with us bottles of honey for every one, as well as a nutritious drink.(Sharow) .. all be it one that I find disgusting , but one that the locals seem to love and appreciate... Then as a special gift we gave out Teddy bears that were knit by a knitters group near where I live. It is only now that I am home, that I start to realize how I have become desensitized to some of the things I came across... I have to ask myself... "How could you leave that beautiful child in the dump".... As I reason it out in my mind, I think, "Well her mother was there with her", but is that an excuse ? Her mother was not much more then 16 or 17 years old , a child herself..

I guess what it came down to is that I was busy, I had many more stops that day, I was at the end of the trip and at the end of my resources.... But now that at I sit and think, I have to question if I could have done something different, could I have done something better ?..... This can't be the end of this storey ....

Breaking the cycle

A friend of mine has spoken quite a bit about "Stopping for the one in front of you" .. Now that I am home, I have had time to really ponder that statement... "Stop for the one in front of you"... There are just so many needs that we come across daily , and some days each concern represents dozens of children... it can be overwhelming at times, but some how in some way there is a peace , or a joy if you will that comes when you stop and help "the one in front of you"... The one that stands out. the one that because you stopped may one day change the world around them... That is the way I feel about our Altynai... shown here with one of the children she has taught English to from the orphanage ...To me, she , like a hand full of others is special... I can't explain what it is that showed me this before I ever really knew her. And before you get all freaked out and start writing me that ALL children are special, I wrote the book on that one,... but i still maintain that there is something different.... over and over it is confirmed... despite the trials that Altynai continues to face daily, she has a determination to rise above.... to over come... to be the one....

This last trip with the team from PI, they "Stopped for the one in front of them", in fact it was for a group of three young men ..( two of them shown here ... the third must be camera shy today ).Three young men who, like Altynai, have come from incredibly difficult beginnings, scratching and clawing themselves out of the life cycle that they have been born into... super bright, incredible abilities despite the life around them... In any other world they would be movers and shakers, but being orphans, in the world they live in they are only set up for disappointment.... We spend thousands of dollars trying to save kids from a life with no future, and we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to rehabilitate men and women who have succumb to their world.... Yet today, in front of us is an opportunity to help as these three young men stand out.... three young men standing in front of us.... There names came up again as I was talking with Sam today... their situation continues to be at the forefront of what we do... We have an opportunity to break the cycle..Our dream agents had worked their magic, and had been able to get all three boys enrolled in University for a year for only $1200... With so many needs around you, how do justify helping the one or in this case three?....

Today I received an email from a friend... she shared with me the story of Ryan Michael , a wonderful young man who's life was cut short... to his family and all those who knew him... he is not just part of a statistic or part of a group... he continues to be the one in front of them.... In his honour, they have made a donation of $500 and asked us to use it to Change a life .... we have decided that we are going to believe that this donation will be the catalyst...,the beginning to Change not just one but the lives of three incredible young men that for what ever reason... today stand as "the one in front of you"... the opportunity is their for all of us to pour into these boys, and to make a difference that will last not just for their life time, but break the cycle for generations to come.....

Friday, June 12, 2009

playing with the bees

This photo was taken of our friend Jengish when we were visiting the Seniors home... The team with Lynn and Ruby had made a beautiful meal for the Seniors, and Jengish was singing for them.. accompanying him was may friend Vataly and our Altynai...For some reason it did not surprise me when Vataly got sore fingers from playing so long, and Jenish picked up the guitar and started to play... He is just one of those guys that is full of surprises....

As I have shared before , Jengish works with the homeless in the Capital city... We talk about helping those that have fallen through the cracks of society... that is latterly where he finds those that he helps.... When we had the Band of Brothers team from PI with us, we brought them out to the rehab centre to show them the progress that was being made... Jenish has been able to enlist the help of a business man that is working to make the centre self sustaining, and in fact is well on the way to making that dream a reality... one of the things that I helped with is to find some sponsors to help get the bees ... this will be a big part of the operating revenue for the farm... I was showing the team the inside of the hive to see the bees... I actually am terrified of bees, so I was being very calm and gentle... What I did not know is that the devious side of one of my buddies was struggling to get out... he said after that it was all he could do not to run up at that moment and give the box a good kick and then run...... actually it seemed funny when he told it... but now it just sounds a little sick.... but that said, I am curious.. do you think we would have one angry hive, or would all 54 hives have gotten in on the fun ?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Recovering well

Aigoola is doing well... the Dr said that the operation was a success... there were two large stones removed... similar to the ones below... ( I have the real photo on it's way)...
Now you did not need to see that any more then I needed them to save the stones for me to see...lol.... but they are waiting in a jar for us when we return... I wonder if there is a market for them on eBay... hummmm
Torat is heading into the City now, and he will stay with mom at the hospital until she is recovered... as is the custom / rule, hospitals do not provide food or post opp care... that is the families responsibility... I guess that's one way of keeping people from staying at the hospital longer then needed...

I just spoke with Altynai, and she will head over to the hospital and take over for Torat so he can go back home to look after the family...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Waiting for Visa

Once again it has been too long since I have posted... My friend Ron his now home with Sam and Pete from their extended stay... it was good to touch base with him again, also I had a good visit with Lynne and Ruby this week.... they are up at their cottage for a few days, and it is very close to our home in Canada..
All is not well in Central Asia, we have faced many difficult situations in the last couple weeks.. one of the most distracting for me is the health of a very good friend. Aigoola has not been feeling well for a while ... she is Mom of beautiful family in the village ...

Over the weekend she ended up in the hospital, and when nothing was done to treat her, Sergey and Talant moved her this morning to a Dr in the city ... they ran tests and found two large Gull stones, and will be operating tonight... I have assured the family that we will help, I guess that will have to come out of another pocket... We also heard that some of the orphanages are having a hard time providing enough food for the kids .. to put it lightly... we are looking into that to see what needs to be done there... With the end of the school year, there is always a lot of disruption in the regular pattern of life.. especially for an orphan... as a result there are just so many other situations that are arising that are requiring the time and resources of all our workers...

I think it was around this time last year that I was writing about the need for us to build a strong foundation that can weather these storms... As we approach the "Stormy season" I think now more then ever I need to start focusing on strengthening the system... The pressures that we have placed on Sam and the rest of his team to deliver when a crisis occurs is emence, and some how with a little help, they have always risen to the call...I am so thankful for their support, for there covering, and their generosity, and desire to help those with no voice...

We receive donations regularly to help with projects, needs, and special requests, and PI is extremely careful to make sure that all these donations are accounted for and the dreams met, but what is seldom taken into consideration is the mechanism behind it... as you know we have 22 friends working full time to care for, and over see the projects that we are involved with... We work hard to provide for their salaries separately through fund raisers and through making personal connections... One of the ways that we do this is to bring some of our friend over to Canada to personally meet those that are supporting them... This summer we are hoping for a little different twist...

We are waiting to hear back about a tourist visa for Altynai...which in itself is amazing as it was not long ago that Altynai did not even have any documents, but today she is not only registered, but even has an international passport.... you see Altynai did not start as a "worker", She has been sponsored through a child sponsorship, as well as having people sponsor her University education.... In her spare time she has helped PI on the ground, both with helping others and working as a translator for us... Here is a photo of her here with some of her siblings ..


Altynai has agreed to share her story, to tell of the impact that PI has made in her life and in the life of her family and friends... she has not just witnessed the impact of bringing hope to the hopeless, but she lives it every day...

Altynai is old enough now that she understands that someone has to pay the bills, and some one has to pay the salaries of those that are doing such a fantastic job... and now she wants to do her part in "giving back" . As soon as we receive the visa, we will book her on the next available flight out.... this summer she will share her storey and the experiences she has witnessed first hand... If you would like to help her with this quest. please consider making a small donation using the links on the top right of this sight... In the memo on the donation page just put "Giving back" I can just imagine the impact this summer will make on not just her life, but the lives of thousands like her that will benefit from her sharing from the heart...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

It does not have to be this way !

This is a condition known as Hydrocephalus ... I am not medically inclined, but I do know that there is a treatment, and many of the children in Central Asia are not getting it... Left un checked, the pressure increases in the brain and a child will loose vision hearing and basic motor coordination... The problem is that the treatment, with pree-op tests, and follow up nursing care is about $800. this is just under a years salary for a field worker... As a result, these children are often brought to the orphanages and suffer terribly...
I guess it is one thing to just look at a picture and feel empathy, but when a mother hands you here baby and turns to you as her last HOPE and asks for help.... It can take a terrible tole on your emotions, especially when you survive on only $100 a month yourself.... This is just another one of the trials that our friend Larisa faces on a daily bassis.
A way has been made that we can help with these and other operations... I will share more about this in the weeks and months to come.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Smiles all around

At Possibilities International, one of our fundamental beliefs is that you don't need to be Opera Winfrey or bill Gates to be a philanthropist... in fact we can all be philanthropists. and I want to introduce you to three amazing young kids that have proven that.... These three kids are fans of actofkindness , and wanted to make a difference... They wanted to put a SMILE on a kids face... The week before I headed home, got notification that they had just raised $265 to make those smiles real..... here they are at their lemonade stand ...
Kitty and Maya in front of their garage with their sign. Unfortunately, Katie was in the house at the time of the photo op.... but here she is They were so excited that so many had supported their special day, and sent me this message for the kids .
Last Monday, after I had left the apartment and headed for home, we made one last stop... I met up with a group of disabled kids and their parents ... In Central Asia, it is the norm to put disabled kids into an orphanage, but our friends work to help families so that their kids can live at home... this is a great sacrifice, and these families have very limited resources, and would never ever dream of having the opportunity to go to a place like Flamingo land... until now that is... 30 kids and adults along with a team of volunteers had the experience of a life time when they were treated to a day of rides, and a wonderful supper at the park....


This next photo is not of one of the kids, but of one of the parents... they were moved beyond words at the love that was shown to their families.

Two of our friends, with the kids on the slide...

Imagine the freedom a child experiences when he trades his wheel chair for a motor boat.


One of the fathers with his daughter...

Two more of our friends helping out with the kids

I had so many stops that day, and had a team in town, so I could not spend a long time, but we had the opportunity to spend about an hour with them... The kids and their parents were so excited to be there, but what was equally as moving was being able to make it possible for our friends to spend the time with these kids... I know and I understand the love that they have for those that they are helping... I know that they want to do so much more to give them a normal life, and if just for a day, they were able to fulfill some dreams...
Kitty , Maya, and Katie... You have given these kids a day that they will never forget... Thank you.....