Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is there a right way to close the door ?

Here is a photo of Cola and I many years ago

We got a call last night from a small home orphanage here in City that has 12 kids at it that Emma visited regularly this spring. They had been expecting to get some financial help from the City, but since the revolution and the crisis in the south, there is no extra to be had, and they did not get any back to school funding. They contacted us through Acel. They did not know that we were back in town , but knew that Emma had stayed with Acel, and they did not know where else to turn. They said that they has manages to raise 500 som ( about $22 ) , but that barely touched the surface of what they needed .

Acel Called us and we were there , All hands on deck , this morning. Our kids have been with us now so many times helping out that they have a good handle on the Bazaar and the shop keepers all know them now, and for the most part are eager to help and give us a good price because they know we are bringing kids from the orphanages. We went to see the director, I felt so bad , we do not have any budget to help this orphanage. We have no one sponsored there , and they are completely off the radar when it comes to big sponsors. But we had to do something . We found out what they would need , and really it was not a lot, about $200 all together. So we told them we would love to bring the kids with us so they could pick out their own new clothes and back packs.. I don't know how many times I can say that the kids were excited, but all you have to do is look at their faces and you know... especially these kids. They had never been anywhere with us before, and from the looks of it I would say that this was the first time to the bazaar for most of them.. and after being with a group of 5 little boys on the busiest shopping day, Julie knows why.

While in the Bazaar, I go a call from one of our friends we had lost touch with .. He was a great help in the past, but I had not been able to reach him this year . He had got his phone working, and had seen my calls so was returning my call. I asked him to come over and see us tonight .

When we got home, Emma and Bekah could not rest until they had found one last kid. So off they went in a cab to track down Cola. They found him and brought him shopping then to the river with us for a swim. I made a huge pot of pasta for supper ( we never know who will be here) we had about AHHHHHH Just as I am writing this I suddenly thought WHERE DID THAT LITTLE GERMAN GIRL GO WE HAD IN THE CAR ... hahahaha.. Ok with a quick phone call I found out she went to a home some were while I was shopping for supper... so any ways... we had about 14 for supper including My friend who stopped buy to say hi...

He has lost a lot of weight , and has been very stressed. His photo business we had helped him start was in a building that was fire bombed, and his taxi business was in a mess. He had traded his old car for a newer one, and while he was on a run to Lake Isykol the timing chain went and the engine is kapotsky. His son had a lot of medical problems and had to have a lot of surgery as well. I felt so bad, After about half an hour of visit I took him into the kitchen with me and asked how much to fix the van.. He said it would be about $150. I asked how much he had, and he said that he did not have any money. So I did some quick math, and figured that if I gave him the money, he could work for us for 7 days to pay us back.. this is a good deal for him and it gets him back to work... the plus for us is that we will have him back in business and we will have him driving for us again.

Last night while we were sitting at the table visiting with Jengish, Bekah was remembering a friend of hers that she knew from school. Her family are missionaries, then Bekah came out with the best one yet. She said " I wish I was in her family" we asked why, and Bekah said ... because " They go places"... we all burst into laughter, and said " Where do you think you are now" she replied " This doesn't count because it's home!"

Just got a call about our two little runaways. They had wanted to go to a different school, but if they went there they would loose one year. So it was looking like it was going to be out of the question. So I told the uncle to let me see what I could do. And once we were able to make a couple calls to the right place, and the verdict has just come in that they would not loose their year and would be able to start there tomorrow. We left the money for the first week bus, so this week we will find the driver and make arrangements for them to stay on the bus.

The next issue that we have to deal with is that this year , more then most, we have been having people coming to our door looking for food. We have tried to keep a no food from the door policy for safety sake, and so that there is somewhere that we can feel some what relaxed. We had broken that rule for a family last week, and now we are paying the price... a few times a day they are calling and stopping buy. We took them back to school shopping and then they were in the bus with the girls when we went for a meeting .. rather then walking the one block home when they got dropped off, they came in and ate all the food we had for the picnic of 25 for the next day.. the girls said they were so hungry that they could not say no. Today another man was at the door as well... he is one of the men that Larisa helps, and he has been missing her as she has been away alot dealing with her brothers affairs since his death. I sent Talant out with a hand full of cookies and he told him that it was not expectable for him to come to the house, and he had to work through those that we work with here... Talant can be a little intimidating , so I think that will work. It still does not make it any easier for us to close the door. I just don't know if there is a right way to do that . I remember a post I did back a couple years ago it was titled... Where do you draw the line ? I would put a link to it for you but I can not access the blog so if you are interested I think you will find it around Feb. 2008. I don't remember exactly how it went, but I remember the feeling !

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ready for school

This mornings shop was a little more then a back to school shop.  Besides finishing up for our two boys, we had two more friends with us.  One of these boys is the one that tried to take his life last summer. They have had a terrible start to life, and now are living in what is not really the ideal situation. Today we brought them with us for the day. More then just shopping, we are trying to get a feel for how they are doing with their living situation. Jengish is here with us as he will be better at reading between the lines.. Intuition is so difficult when crossing a language and cultural barrier.  Our main objective is to make sure that they are safe and well until David and Jayne get here to be able to dig a little deeper into their situation and how we can help... we have enough cans open right now.  They are having a good day and have started to relax a little . They are playing cards with Bekah and the other kids right now. Interesting enough , our two boys had lived with them in one of the orphanages here for about 8 months so they get along well.   We are also getting them moved to a Russian school. They currently are registered in a Kyrgyz school, but up until last fall they had been in a Russian school, so the change was difficult for them.  This has also meant that they had to have a uniform so they could attend.  We also got them a change of cloths and a spot outfit .   After the morning at the bazaar we all went out for lunch. Jengish is really good with the kids, and they are all having a blast.  This goes a long way in building the relationship that is needed to get to the bottom of the family situation. 
  Back at the apartment we have a whole pile of paper and pens etc. We bought them bulk to save money, so the boys were able to pick out what they need (with Altynai's help) So they are all set now.
Tomorrow is the last holiday before school is back in .  We are hoping to spend the day with Acel and Talant.  We have not been able to spend as much time with them as usual, with the new baby, Acel is not able to be with us every day.. we are missing her.
  I spoke with Vlady this morning. He brought us over honey and tomatoes.  We are working on a project with him. We are forming a social co-op. We will rent a spot at the bazaar, and stock it with all the stuff that is made at the different places we help , like the orphanage and invalid home, as well as some of the families we support, like Aigoola's mattresses and blankets.  Everything will be on consignment. The rent for the space will be about $65 a month and the worker who looks after it will make about $80 a month.. We will start by setting the prices about 5% lower then market value, and have 10% of the sale price go back to the operation budget. Once sales are high enough to cover their own expenses, any additional funds raised will go to social charity work in the community.  We will expect to be self sufficient with in about 6 months.  Besides providing a job, it will also give a sales out let for all the different people we work with . They are all excited about this, Last night I had someone come and ask if we would do the same thing in Kazakhstan.  I told them that it would not be me, but they could certainly copy the model once all the bugs are worked out.  Bekah is thinking that she would like to volunteer there maybe one day a week as well. 
Larisa is expected back from Russia  this week, then we will be able to spend a few days with her doing some follow-up to some of the simple dreams she has been working on, as well as visiting the seniors home and invalid home.  We could certainly go on our own, but I always like to arrive with her the first time each visit, It helps to reinforce with everyone that we are here to support her, and that in our absence, we would like her to be treated with the same respect that they show us... after all it is her burden we are here to support.  

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A day at the beach

We had a beautiful drive through the mountains to the lake yesterday. Both the bus and Sergeys van were full.  When we passes through the village that our friend Talas was berried in, I could feel the lump in the back of my throat. I don't know why I think of him so often, but lots of memories came back as we traveled along through this stark land.  At one point, we could see the hills and the settlement off in the distance where we came for his funeral.  About 10 minutes later we came to one of the most beautiful beaches you could imagine. The Camera does not pick it up as well, but you look across this lake at the snow caped mountains, It is simply gorgeous.    We had made a lunch for everyone the night before, and I had found some Styrofoam to line a box, so we even had a cooler to put it in.. this may not seem like much to most of you , but if you have ever had to eat in some of these restaurants, you would know what a treat this was .. We made potato salad and had cold meats and boiled eggs along with cheese and tomatoes and fresh bread... then when the ladies came along the beach with dried fish strung through the eye sockets on a coat hanger, we bought 20 of them for our clan... Uhg.. ( this is me trying to be culturally sensitive in the meal planning, but I could just not bring myself to buy them kamos or sharow, I am not that sensitive).  Sergeys mom sent a  crock pot with hot potatoes and fried meat... it was so good .  The kids spent 5 hours either eating or swimming. I had a little nap and woke up like a lobster despite the two layers of sun screen.  The lake was beautiful and clear clean water with just slight salt content.  It was cold, but refreshing.  We got in around 8 and everyone was tired and ready for an early bed time.

Getting to know our new freinds.

Great day at the beach yesterday, we had twenty something with us, came home with more then we went with so we must not have lost any one ..
I will get one of the girls to post more about that day later today when they can ad some photo's as well.
  This morning we went to meet with more of our family here.  It was such a blessing to see a row of the men from the Invalid home there.  They looked so nice all dressed up, and they probably had the biggest smiles of any one.   After the gathering we decided to take them out for lunch with us at the shashleek yurts.  As well, we met up with the Families from the south that we have been helping with . There are now 4 families. Poor Altynai found herself as the only translator for 4 of us and our 30 guests.  She did a great job.  It was nice to get to personally spend some time with families that we have known so much about. To hear their stories and see their situation first hand is difficult , especially when their is not more that we can do.  In total their are 10 children.  They have been the victoms of such persecution over the last few months, and we are not certain even now that the public school would be the best place for the kids, with the potential for more trouble, not to mention all they have been through. There is a really good private school here that we could get them into . They would be treated very well by the families their, and it would be a great place for healing for them.  They have talked to the school administration, and they are doing all they can to help as well, including allowing them to pay in installments, but with the situation, and the documents that need to be replaced, it will be very difficult for the parents to cover the tuition. As well they are living in a temporarily closed school owned by a friend of ours, but that situation is only temporary... they just have so many needs, yet as we visited with them today, they were eager to do what they could to help us... they never shared their situation and needs, they wanted to continue to help others like they did before this all happened... We only know what we know because we have discussed the situation with others in the know to see what needs might be.. They are true representatives of what it is to be a true servant.  Really what needs to happen is that we need to find a group or an organization that would like to take this on as a project to help them for even one year until they are able to get their lives back on track... once again they represent the comment  I just heard from one of our friends.. " They did nothing wrong" and "They did not ask for this", Yet we come away feeling blessed to have been able to spend time with THEM.     During our visit they did share that they recieved the packages that Rody had made up for them this spring, they also shared how blessed each of the 5 families were who recieved them. It was a real encouregment to for them to know that there are people out there who care.. they send Jody and her friends a great big THANK YOU.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Another day of shopping.

Well they have managed to close the back door to the blog that I had found, so until I find another way around the block, I will have to email posts in to the blog again.. That means I can't get the photos it the right place so you will have to just make up your own storey to go with each picture.
    This morning we ummmm ... funny , I can't even really remember this morning.. .. I know that there were different kids here then the last night, and tonight there are different kids then last night.   Oh I remember , We had 20 more kids from the orphanage, plus a few from the village that joined them.
  By 9 we were in the market doing more back to school shopping.  we finished the first wave by 11:45, then went to the school and had tea with Olga and her staff.  Bekah got to check out her new office where she will be doing her schooling..  We got back to the apartment just in time to meet up with Jessica's family  A few minutes after that we had another bus load of kids arrive, and back to the market. The market has been busier the last couple days then I have ever seen it before. I found out today that it is because they have opened the boarder for 10 days so that people can do their back to school shopping.  
  Later today, Altynai was finished school, and we went over to the school that her siblings attend to discuss with them the new living arrangements, and what they will be on thin a few weeks.. We will all need to be on the same page if this is going to work.
   Tomorrow morning we will be heading to Lake Isykol with a couple car loads of kids.. I think it will be a good time to go, its starting to get hot here again.   

Thursday, August 26, 2010

wake up to the world around us.

    Some times we begin to get lost in the reality around us. Believe it or not, it does become almost normal at times to see the world around us and say "this is just the way it is"... and it's not just here in Kyrgyzstan. I walk past the street people  in our own city in Canada  , you even get to know who is where at what time of day, in fact every one gets to know the guy who sings opera as he washes windows.  When we were in Germany, after the shock of the first day,  we were able to walk past people shooting up in the gutters, and maybe even except or expect it.  I am sure that everywhere you go you will find something that is just plain wrong! yet some how becomes the norm.  Orphaned and unwanted kids happens to be one of those social wrongs that we are facing.   We have been here for a week, and we have not even been to any of the orphanages yet...  As awful as they can be, the ones in the orphanages may be the luck ones. 
   I know that many of my posts are kind of hard hitting, They do not always seem so to me at the time, but when I get back to Canada and read those posts from a different continent, I understand the pain more.. Today it was pay back. not sure what it was , but I got a letter from one of our supporters, someone who has visited us here, and I have visited in the US. they know and understand what we do, and have been a big part of it . One paragraph sort of woke me up " 
"My heart goes out to the orphans especially. They did not ask for their lot in life.  They had no choice.  They didnt do anything wrong to be in a place where they will growup feeling unwanted and unloved by any true family.  It makes me so very sad."  
  Unfortunately, this is what we are facing all around us.  As you know we have a few extra's living with us until we get them settled back too school, and get them adjusted from the street mentality to the family mentality .. One little one will not eat with us willingly.  He is hungry right up until the point we are about to eat, then he does not feel well until about 10 minutes after we are done.  There must be some under lying stress when it comes to a family meal.  As many of you know I do not have a lot of patience for stuff like this, but fortunately I am not the only care giver hear, and I do understand that there is more underlying to this. 
  I promised that I would share about our latest house guest.  She is a young lady that we have worked with for a few years. She is very shy. She called and wanted to talk to Altynai, but was scared to see us. actually she was scared of possible rejection. We assured them that we would love to see her and she was welcome to come for a visit.  She had been abandoned when she was about 10, and bounced around to anyone and everyone since then. Her mother remarried and had 2 more kids . the Mothers husband was killed in the uprising in Osh a few months ago.  Our friend decided to go south and help her mother , and do what she could to get some sort of acceptance.  for 2 months she tried to help. but her mother just ignored her and would not make eye contact with her.... she did end up coming over for a visit, and we talked with her , and she had a little cry.  She did not ask for this, She had no choice, she did not do anything wrong, and her whole life she has felt unloved ..and yes it does make us feel so very sad.
  We are doing our best to advocate for many of these children from our little apartment, but this really needs to be done right. it needs a proper structure, with a staff dedicated to the needs of the kids, and not just have a whole flock of kids as a tag along to someone's day.  If we are going to break the cycle for them, the need to be brought in and loved by a true family, one that is committed to them and not just one that comes and goes with the seasons.  Fortunately that vision is so close . We went to see the progress of the Daysprings family home.  As I stood behind the kitchen counter with Natasha the director,  I could see visions of precious little ones running through the halls.  Such a blessing to know that  something permanent can  be done.  We still have a long way to go with the furnishings, and a bit more renovation, but as soon as the money comes in we will be ready to begin. 
  In a few minutes, we have two more waves of Orphans coming to town to do some back to school shopping. so I better get going.