Wednesday, April 29, 2020

All that was accomplished today.

About 12 years ago our friends at Possibilities International were starting something they called   "simple dreams" ..  The idea being that to bring hope and dignity to someones life does not always have to be the philanthropic adventures of the rich and famous , but hope can be found in the small things if done right, and can be funded by the every day person.   When discussing this with us on one of Sams visits , my daughter and her friend Kamala said "thats an easy one, we know lots of students and poor families that $15 worth of groceries  could make a world of difference to."  Sam said your on and put $300 on the table .  

This turned out to be a lot more work then you would think. Doing the shopping for 20 people, packing bags and then finding the homes to deliver the bags. Needless to say it did not happen over night .  

Bekah and Kamalla out on deliveries 

That fall Sam was coming back with a team, and we decided to get the team in on it.  At the time the show the amazing Race was popular, so we called ours "the Amazin Grace "  the team would be divided into groups of 4 with a driver and a translator .  Each team has to pack and deliver 12 bags .  of course we add in road blocks and detours ..  
This has been a main stay with all our teams in the years since .  In fact If not for the shut down we would have been delivering bags tomorrow with our friend Dave . Its on of his favorite days. 

Dave & his son bringing food to a family 

It really is a lot of work , and is a lot of money .  This is the type of thing that we are able to do with teams that we don't always have the time or the funds to do on our own . 

teams from Minnesota and Nova Scotia packing and delivering more bags 

One of my concerns this spring with the lock down is that it is the teams that cover the majority of our humanitarian aid budget .   Groups like Thunder-bay that would have been delivering food last week if they had been there, sent the finances anyways .   

Today began one of the largest Humanitarian aid drops  we have ever done, during on of the greatest humanitarian aid crisis this world has faced.   The needs are not just in Kyrgyzstan but everywhere .. I think of my friends working in  Malawi and Haiti and Guatemala, even those working right in my home town.  The needs are so great everywhere , yet in just 4 days many of you both here and there, stepped up to sponsor back and deliver 250 food hampers . 

Friends in Tokmok packing 250 food hampers 

this van load is heading for Kant and Bishkek 

 Knowing the work and the organization required to pack and deliver 25 bags , I am overwhelmed when I think of what was accomplished today .   

The days ended for Vlad back out at the farm where he brought food hampers for some of our farm neighbors.   Good night my friends. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The next round of food drops .

Just $71 to go before Sunday night when  I will be doing another transfer of what ever funds are in to help with the food crisis in Kyrgyzstan . We have helped over 2000 people since the shutdown started, and now it has been 5 weeks since the first 500 people received help, and they are hungry .  

We are preparing another food drop for 250 families .  That drop alone will be $10 US a family or $2500 US , that comes to just over $3600 Canadian . 

right now Vlad is collecting masks , gloves , sanitizer  and documents giving authorization  to be out on deliveries , as well as organizing and training volunteers to help. .. My job is to get the money to him 😊 

There is another really great way we can help .  For about $40 a day (Canadian )  we can have 350 loaves of bread baked and delivered around the city .  It is placed on the shelves in the little corner stores .  The bread is free to who ever needs it and anyone who can afford and would like to help can also make bread or buy bread and put it on the shelf for those in need as well .. As the program is increasing in popularity ,  these signs of help are popping up around town . 

There are a couple ways to help.  $40 to sponsor 1 days daily bread drop , or $15 to sponsor a families food hamper.  

Sunday night is the dead line for this next funds transfer .  If you are able to help, please use the donate link on the top right side of the blog, and indicate "Food hamper" or  "Daily bread" in the memo line . 

 Here is one more way that you could help on a personal level.  If you look over my shoulder in the video you will see a painting of a horse that Emma painted . it is 3'x4' on stretched canvas.  Emma would like to sell it.  The asking price is $1000.  (unfortunately since these funds will go directly to Emma, it is not eligible for a tax receipt. )  If you are interested please let us know .  If you are close enough we will deliver in person when things open up, If it needs to be sent by courier , it will be taken off the frame and shipped in a tube. 

Thank you everyone for all you are doing to help in this difficult time. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Give us this day our daily bread .

As you know, we have been working with several different friends to support them in providing food supplies to those in need.  Kyrgyzstan has always been a close to the wire country when it comes to daily food supply .   Many people work, get paid and then buy food on the way home .. If they don't work they don't eat.  Now ad in quarantine and not working .. no food stores and no way to earn money for food .   a few weeks ago we were able to bring about a months supply of basic needs to about 300 families.  It was with the help of many volunteers that this was possible . 

One of those volunteers has really stepped up in a big way . he and some his other volunteers have started baking bread and delivering it every day.  They make one full bag of flour (about $40) and this will make 350 loaves of bread .  

They had a donation of 15 bags of flour. so they have about 7 bags left.  

We have offered to provide the yeast for now, and I have committed to the next 10 bags when those are finished . 

Here in North America many in Canada and the US have just gotten their stimulus or support cheques/checks  from the government.  Can you imagine if you had nothing, and the only support you received was one loaf of bread . 

We know that the food hampers we sent out in the first wave will be almost gone by now, so we are preparing for the second wave of deliveries .  In a couple weeks I would like to send about $3000 so that we can not only provide a food hamper for 300 people, but we will be able to meet our commitment for at least 10 days of bread deliveries . 


Friday, April 17, 2020

Up next , Red River orphanage

Vlad was just talking with the director of the red river orphanage .  it is the orphanage that most of our kids are from.  Its time for us to send a food drop to them, not just food but sanitizer, soap and you got it .. toilet paper.  

potots from preparing for food drop a couple weeks ago with Olga 

Same day Vlad was packing hampers as well .
In a couple weeks it will have been one month and we will need to do this food drop again, but for now we need to move quickly to get supplies to the orphanage .   We will aim for Monday or Tuesday depending on a couple things .. we have a commitment of $100 right now, but will try to raise another $900 to make this drop viable .  Vlad will also arrange for our transport  driver and the necessary documents to get through the road blocks.   If you would like to help , please put " Red River " in the memo line or drop me a note and we will make sure this makes it through.   Also please share this need with any of your contacts that you think might be interested in helping food relief for 120 of the least of these .

This need has been covered . so awesome . Thank you everyone.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Keeping our selves busy.

20 years ago I collected up some big patio door windows with the thought of one day putting a green house on the back of our house .  15 years ago we fixed up and painted our house , but I did not do much to the back of the house because one day real soon  I was going to put a green house on .  10 years ago I came across a bunch of big heavy timbers that I thought would be great for the raised planter box in the green house on the back of the house if that ever happened. Five years ago I came across some torn and broken Styrofoam  hot tub covers that were about 6 inches thick so I stashed them away thinking that they would be great insulation for the green house one day.  Three years ago I got a pile of rough cut lumber that I thought that one day I could use as the siding on the green house on the back of the house ,, One year ago I had some 2 x 6's and nails left over from when we had to rebuild the front deck that had all collapsed on us.    

So with a bit of time on our hands and missing our green houses over in Kyrgyzstan, we decided that now was the time for a good stay at home project.   We took off the front of the old veranda and have started working on the green house.  

The room will basically be a great big raised flower bed with the glass for the roof.  and a spot at the end that is 8' x 10' where we can have a small table and chairs from late spring until early fall, and through the winter months move the hot tub in .  I envisioned  having  both the planter planted as well as  hanging baskets and big pots on the floor. 

I was doing a bit of research to see what issues I might have with a hot tub in a green house before I face them myself and what do you know, I found one with almost the same layout as we will have .. except our windows will be on the angle .  

The siding will go on tomorrow and I will start moving dirt in , then on the weekend the windows will go on and by next week we will be starting to plant .   I will keep every one up to date with the progress.  Spring has been so incredibly busy for us over the years that it has been great for me to stay sane or at least as sane as can be at through all this.  

Over in Kyrgyzstan, we will start planting the gardens next week.  Once the planting is done we will plan on doing another great big food drop .  Our goal for this next one will be about $2500 , enough for about 250 families. So just a heads up that we will start doing some fund raising for that in a week or two. 

Today we got word from the mens home that they need help to purchase cleaning /disinfecting supplies.  Tanya is going to be looking into that to see how  big a need that will be and if we can just cover it or if we will have to raise some funds . I will know better tomorrow.
Apart from that, my other big news and adventure was that this morning I brought the recycling box to the curb. But not wanting to hog all the fun and excitement, Julie got to bring in the empty box. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

One day this will be over !

Why do I let these things get to me ? This is the question I asked Julie today . 

So with the cities in lock down, I have not been able to get aid to different parts of the city .. people are only allowed a few blocks from their homes.  This has been challenging for us . People that we help from time to time find themselves with no food , no money and no time on their phones to reach out for help.  and we can not get to them if we tried. 

I thought that I had a solution with Western Union.  We can contact them, and if there is a need, I can transfer a small amount to them to help them out, and they in turn send me a photo that yes they did purchase groceries, or what ever the purpose of the funds were for .  This has worked well .. at least up until today . 

When I sent the funds for the food drops from or friend Artum, they would not let me send more then $600 in a day.  So I contacted the bank last night after midnight when they would not allow me to send more .. I was told that it is a 24 hour period so I would have to wait until noon today to send the balance.  Noon today I sent the balance and all was well. and I forwarded the pick up security number .  As well he would have to bring in government issued photo ID to receive the funds  . 

Almost 4 hours later I get a text from Western Union that my account was on hold .  They said that because I had sent two payments to the same person my account was frozen until I "Explained myself" I had to tell them who I sent it to? , how long I had known them?, how do I communicate with them?, when was the last time I had physically met with them ? what was their relationship to me ? what was the intended purpose of the money sent? and what is their age? why did I send two separate payments ? .   As we continued this interrogation, I found out that they had canceled all un collected transfers I had out there including food money for Kamala, but had failed to notify me of the other transfers they had put on hold .   and it was only found when I made them look up all previous transfers . 
They told me it was for me that they were doing this and that they want to make sure I know the person... and that possibly someone different would collect the money ... ya right someone who has the secret code, and someone who has the same name on a government issued photo ID..   Having Kamala out in the city to collect money that is suspended is not helping me . In fact the only way a fraudulent  transaction could have taken place is if the WU teller was in on it and did not require the ID and the number .. and in that case this is not about protecting me its about protecting themselves from themselves .. and it still does not give any explanation as to why I was not notified that previous transfers where suspended as well .

The solution is that with EVERY transfer that I do from my bank, I must then wait an hour and call Western Union and confirm that they have not blocked the transaction because apparently that is my responsibility not theirs ...  Through this , they never once apologized or took any responsibility for the situation .  She simply said it was Covid 19's fault.  One day this will be over and rather then thinking this was a good practice to continue, I will be left with a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to W.U.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

It's up to you

  Many of you will know Artrum .. he is great guy. He lives in Bishkek and works with orphanages, rehab centers and homeless shelters .  A couple times a year we partner with him to do things like provide coal and vitamins , some times it is to bring food and other times to support kids camps.  He does a lot of work with the Nationals to raise the support needed , and we try to top off if there is a short fall.. Today there is a short fall .  He figures that about 80% of his group of people that normally help him are in trouble them selves right now ..  they are about three weeks into a shut down when the average prosperous family might have 3 or 4 days worth of food , and many work and shop one day at a time. 
  Artrum wrote me today , he started off by saying he understands that times are difficult everywhere not just Kyrgyzstan , so he was not going to ask, but things are getting desperate. He has decided that he should just come out and ask ... "PLEASE CAN YOU FIND ME HELP".  They will put together food hampers and distribute to those in need ..

If you would like to help us with this , I have made arrangements to get money to him through western union ,  and he can arrange the food distribution in the different areas of need ..

So many of you have helped so much this last month that I like him did not want to ask again, but have decided to put it out there and leave it up to you to decide.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

A couple days, and then the harvest .

Last summer we had a visitor from Japan at the guest house . I got talking with h er and learned that her father was a spinach farmer.  She told us how he planted his crops just before winter so that they would get an early start , and not need to irrigate .  and would get a head start on the weeds .  Not only that , the spinach was a darker and much sweeter spinach.  

We decided to give it a try .  We had a section of garden that is more difficult to water , so this would be perfect.  

Well here we are, still three weeks before people are starting to plant their fields and we are almost ready for harvest .  In just a few days we will start picking.  The great part is that we can cut the tops off and leave the roots in place and they will regrow now that they are established.  This is a crop that will replenish it self all spring, as long as we cut it it will keep growing.  

With the shut down, ,many in the villages are very un prepared and are hungry.  Spinach is very nutritious and will be good for them .  
A couple years ago I envisioned a  produce cart in front of the farm where we could put out vegetables .  The boys are cleaning that up this week, and next week it will be out in front of the main house with a sign stating  " Dear neighbors, please help yourself to some fresh produce from this  cart."  

Every day they will harvest from the field and the green house and put the produce out on this cart. I am sure it will be a blessing.  

Speaking of a blessing, little baby Rona is doing great 

Monday, April 06, 2020

New life on the farm

Carol Anne had her baby yesterday ... everyone meet baby Rona .  Mother and calf doing well .. They think its a boy.  We will leave that lesson for another day. 

We have been in contact with an organization we have worked with in the past in Bishkek.  Everything is sectioned off so it is hard to get aid into certain areas.  But today they had contact with Roma.  Many of you will remember him from time at the farm 

I was chatting with Beksoltan at the farm .  he was happy to be able to give food to a family that he took on helping a couple years ago.  
He was feeling bad because he could not do more .. He said that there are so many families that don't even have bread, and that he has some friends that are starting to help people in the city , but knows that he can not go there .  I explained to him the we all have a part in this , and his part is to stay on the farm and help his mom and Nick keep everyone safe.  I then told him that by doing his part, we could focus on  the needs of others.  I started sending  him pictures of some the hundreds of families that we have been sending food to.  He even looked through the pictures and saw people that he knew .  I think it really helped him to know that what he is doing is valuable and makes it possible for others to be helped.  

Kind of like the position we are in here .. I stay in because with me out of the way the front line workers can do what needs to be done.  

It was nice to see some of the boys as well .. Dustan is now set up with on line classes that he can access right from his phone.  A special hello to his 2 main sponsors , one that supports his daily living and the other who pays his tuition.    

We will likely have to change up our planting on the farm this year to seeds that we already have and to plants that we have started in the green house .  Things like peppers that we planed on buying already started in the bazaar may not be an option .   Like everything else these crops may need to be scaled back a little , but we will pray for the seeds and watch God move.  

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Two Very happy families

Last week we were able to get the food hampers delivered just before the cities went into full lock down ,  In the capital the lock down is even into sections of town, so only small parts of the town are accessible to go into .. each person in his or her own area .   There is also a strict curfew, and fines if you are not wearing a mask .  

All this has made it difficult  to keep track of the different kids that we support living on their own.  For two weeks now we had been trying to check in with and get help to one of our girls living with her brother , and another living somewhere on the edge of the city with her two little kids ,  

We have managed to locate both of them, gotten copies of their documents and been able to get western union wire transfers to them into their sectioned off areas . 

It was such a relief to hear that they were able to get the money, and purchase food to hold them over .. now we can relax and know that those two households are in and safe and have food .. Thank you to those that have continued to support so that we can continue to help in some what creative ways ..