Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Today was one of the most difficult days this trip. It was one of those days that makes you appreciate everything that you have, and at the same time makes you wonder what you ever did to possibly deserve what you have... And we were not the only ones that had some emotional breakdowns, even our friends shed a few tears today. .
Now when we uploaded the photo's they came up in the wrong order so we will start at the end of the day and work backward... and As I have learned today... it really is not a big deal...

Our day ended with a visit to the village... as usual when we come to town, a party always breaks out.
David and Genette graced the crowd with a little singing ... they were excited to have someone in their village that spoke french,

I think the kids were just excited to eat candy....

But me , I was excited to spend time with young Arafat and his family... he is the young boy that we have been helping with his cleft pallet surgeries....

It was nice to go to the party, it was upbeat after visiting the invalid home. When we pulled in there, we saw some of the new mattresses out being aired out.. something they do when it is a nice day.... it's nice to see the new mattresses in the mix.
Inside we were brought to the latest room that we have been renovating... it is a dinning room on the floor of the ICU... until now, it had no chairs, rotted floors, the cement was crumbling on the walls, and there was no electricity, and no water and no heat....
Now the room is almost finished...

stove, sinks, hot water, heaters, electricity and lights.... and by next week, tables and chairs, dish racks with dishes and spoons, everything that will be needed for a cafeteria.

Even hand painted patterns are on the wall.... it is going to be an incredible room when it is finished.... the care givers are so excited as well... they say it will make there job so much easier, and more pleasant.... especially the hot water for cleaning.

before going there, we visited with some of the families that Laurisa supports with the help of iam1ru.... like this babushka that has lost her 5 children and her husband, and now supports 3 grand children... She shared how one of the kids needs to go to a special school because he is behind, but it will cost $25 a year, and he will have to stay with relatives in the city... the babushka did not know where she could find the $25, but she did manage to save some money that she could give the boy for spending money while he was living away for the next 8 months... she was happy to give him 5o som....$1.25....that's just over 15 cents a month....As I seek out more simple dreams, it is difficult for us to not just meet the needs right away.... rest assured, this is one of those dreams that was met immediately by the team.

This is the only heat source for Clava.. the old babushka in another apartment... and it is broken... it needs a new chimney... about $10 then she will not freeze this winter when they turn the heat off... I would love to add another $50 to that and buy her enough coal for the winter...

Here she is here greeting us when we arrived... she was so glad to see me again, and it was a blessing for us to spend time with her.
she lives just around the corner from a school where we visited more children that we support through Laurisa... We were also introduce to 3 more kids... the lost there mother last month because they could not afford the medication for her... it would have cost $5. It was so difficult to look at these kids and know that for the sake of $5 they have no mother... How much would be to much to take away that pain ?......That is the imposable question.... The one that only has one answer... it is a price that I can not pay!

At that school, they have 700 children and teachers, and the only washroom is this building ...

I have made a commitment to them to be back at the end of next week with a couple workers and put a new roof on, and bring them paint and paint brushes to spruce it up... This is going to cost about $250, and I am just about out of mad money... as you might have guessed by seeing the projects we have been working on... But what we really need to do is to raise about $1200 to build them a second washroom so that there is not the continual line up that they are facing now....

I guess the hardest part of today is that we started off at the dump... I am Canadian... I am not supposed to have friends that live in the dump.... at least that is what I thought, but now when we go to the dump, they all come over and are excited to see me again,. and what to know how my summer was and how my family is doing... all the things that you might ask a Friend that you have not seen for a while.... Yet how do I ask them about their summer... Do I say.. "Hay it is great to see that you are still alive".... or " I like what you guys have done with the place"instead conversation is " OH I see they are dumping in a different area now... does that make things easier or harder for you ?"... instead I focus on what I can .. I tell them that they are in my thoughts, and that even when I am not in KG, I do not stop thinking about them, and I encourage them to go to Laurisa when they are in special need, and we will continue to do what we can to help......
I say that, but as I walk away I almost feel ashamed that they are still there....sure I justify by telling myself that at least we are doing something...Besides our friends, there is no one else that ever visits them, ... well that's not true... one large Humanitarian aid group came once about 2 years ago and gave them each 1 kg of rice.....
These are the dark corners of society .... it is not a pretty place... I have no idea why it hit me so hard this time, but I am not alone... even our friends here recognise the desperation being faced ... winter is just around the corner, and as my friend Jayne put it..." No one is saying the words, but with every passing day, the people her move one day closer to sure pain suffering and for many death as the winter approaches"...
How many will die before I return ?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Impacting a nation ... from the bottom up !

This afternoon was one of those times that you live for ... We picked up a bus load of orphans and headed for the capital. We brought them to the only arena in the country. They came in and saw a skating rink for the first time... They all knew about hockey and skating, but many never dreamed that they would ever get to go themselves. They were so excited that they were shaking... Even all our friends that came to help us with this event were excited .... in fact the one that I think was the most excited was the bus driver...lol...

We rented the ice for an hour... once they were all laced up, we opened the door and they began to file out onto the ice... it was like watching baby birds leave the nest for the first time... slowly they would start to move away from the boards, but before you know it they were all over the place.. but I must say that some never did get it figured out, but they ALL had fun... he had 32 people in all.

As I watched , I saw how great it is to have our friends there with their own families as well... It made the day change some how from an Orphanage outing to a family outing... it worked out that we had an average of 2 kids each which was great for an event like this.

After skating we went to a local hot spot restaurant.. It is likely the most popular and favorite restaurant for the locals, and judging by the cars in the parking lot, they are all considerably more affluent then I am ..But when we showed up with the kids, the waitress recognised me from a previous visit with kids, and right away cleared room for us together in the dinning room... Dave asked if I had reserved to get such a great spot... I said no... Just rearranged...

It was then that the most amazing thing happened ... The waitresses started helping with the kids.. they treated them with the greatest respect.. the even poured drinks and helped cut food... they were the best I have seen... i even noticed one child drop a fork and before she could pick it up, a waitress had moved in and replaced it with a new one..... now this may not seem strange to you, but you have to remember where we are... They had to have rearranged the orders in the kitchen as well because by the time they took the order for the last table , the food was ready for the first.....

When we were don, I paid the bill, and Dave gave the tip... I am not sure which was bigger... but I know that there were three waitresses that were almost crying, and were not able to hide their excitement... We told them how wonderful they were and thanked them for such fantastic service, but more importantly for the respect they showed the kids... there response was interesting... They said that they recognised us from a previous visit and they saw what we were doing , and wanted to be a part of making the day special for the kids, then thanked us not for the tip, but for caring for their kids.... I really think we are making a difference....

Here is a video of the night.....

video

Prod Ceer Doma

Do you remember these two girls I posted about earlier..? Today we had a little time in the morning before heading with the kids to the capital, so we decide to see what we could do to make a difference in their lives.... but first we had to be escorted by 4 police ... two in front and two in back, to the police station..... we dropped a few names and were on our way... another funny storey we will tell later, but for now back to the kids... These two little girls were dropped off at their Babushka's house 6 months ago, and the parents have left... possibly back to Russia... The babushka is doing all she can to provide for them and keep them out of the Orphanage, but most of her income is going into the rent for this one room..... There is no bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living room, .... just this one room... I am standing just out side the door to get this much in ... that is how small life is for them..... It has been bothering me since we got here, but I think we have a solution.
We started checking the papers, but it is difficult to find an apartment for them to rent... people are afraid to rent to people with children and no jobs... I guess the same thing we might find in North America ... We then found this house... It has everything that they need, and exceedingly and abundantly more !.. It is on a very quiet street , about 250 Meters from the front gates of the best school in the village. it has water right in front and a large lot. It is the large side of a duplex, and it owns all the land on the side and the guardens and chicken coop in the back. The house is in very good shape, and would need nothing to move into it right away... even the roof and the foundation are in good shape and solid. It has 3 rooms, and a front porch, a chicken coop, two storage sheds, a summer kitchen/ sauna. and a good fence all around . Here are a few photo's ... as you look at them, just put your self into the place of these two Little girls, and imagine moving into a place like this....

This is a photo from the road.

This is the back of the house .. the yard is all planted with very nice gardens.

this is across the side yard


this is out the back and you can see the chicken coop here


this is the door into the porch


beside the porch there is a covered gardening bench

this is the kitchen room


It is heated with coal with this heater... it looked in very good working order.
It also has a large living room.
I was surprised to find a house with such a large yard tucked into the centre of town... Even Sergey did not know it was there... in fact it is so close to his apartment, if another building was not in the way he would have had a clear view into the back yard.
So what is the damage.. well with very little arm twisting and even though we are foreigners, we were able to get the price down to $4800. and Sergey is certain that if we went back with $4500. Two little girls and their Babushka would have a home to grow up in.
So now that we have done what we can do.. we will tell the storey and wait to see what happens....

Friday, September 25, 2009

A lesson in HOPE

When we sat down with the director of the Seniors home and told her about the funds we had raised for the heating system, I could tell that she had mixed emotions. What we did was to provide enough funds to put in the boilers but the heating pipes for only part of the home... this would mean that it would be necessary In the colder months to move people closer together.. I could tell she was relieved that the heat was coming, but at the same time was disappointed that we could not do the whole thing... I understand that it is because she had put all her HOPE in us...... and when we were not going to provide the total heating system she had no other hope... We told her that this was a start, and that we would believe with her that as we steeped out and began this project that others would come along and support.... It is to big a job for most groups to tackle, but once things were started, maybe others would join in... She smiled and agreed, but I could tell she did not believe.... This morning we had a guest at the apartment for breakfast... we talked a little about our projects here, then he gave us a donation of $1000 toward the heating system.... This is so big in many ways... here that is the equivalent of a years wages... it is also a great confirmation that we were not to simply do the whole job, but as we have seen so many times before in so many projects, If we can take the first step... the big step, then teach them how to HOPE... amazing things can happen... and they have.
With in minutes, Sergey was on the phone to tell her the good news....
How cool is that !

Thursday, September 24, 2009

time for a nap

So At this point, we have:

-a major renovation going on at the Baby hospital that our friend Vlady is over seeing ,

-we have a new roof going on the barn Toratt is building for the new animals..

-we have just doubled the size of Vera's community outreach centre / feeding program . in the village ... and renovations have begun..

-we have 80 more mattresses being made for two projects

-we have the new plumbing and have just about finished the wiring for the children's learning centre that Olga runs

-we have begun the renovation of the kitchen / dinning room at the invalid home

- we have started work on the heating system for the seniors home....

- we are putting a heating system in the apartment that was just purchased for Altynai and her family to live in..

-repairing some heating rads in The apartment we stay in here ,

- just put new tires on Sergey's van

and today we were in Bishkek to touch base with the Dr that is treating the Hydrocephalus babies... This one was a special blessing as this time when I visited the kids.. I did it with a HOPE in a better future, knowing that they will be receiving the needed surgery.


- we set up and confirmed future trips and outings for the orphanages and families we support, such as

-a trip to the hot springs

-skating in a real arena... complete with ice... not just a giant plastic cutting board

-a trip to the amusement park

- Golfing with some of the older kids

and a party with the village where we brought water to last year, and where Arophat lives ( the boy we did the cleft pallet surgery for...

-We even have a few other cool things in the making that I will post about soon....

Hummm now that I write it out, I see why we are a little tired .... I will try to get some photo's of the progress of each of these in the next couple days....

It is all going smoothly right now, but I think we will hold off on any other projects for a few days.. it is starting to look like a house of cards...lol... we have all the plates spinning right now... lets hope it stays that way.....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

brief update

We are getting ready to head back to the Baby hospital... we have a bunch of baby stuff and hospital stuff ... here we are trying to sort it all out ... Last night we had supper with Acel and family... I took that opportunity to give the kids sweaters that my mom ,Grammy Pammy , had made.... they were a big hit.

And of course she made her famous Bishbalback... from the Kyrgyz bord Bish meaning 5 and Balmack meaning fingers... it's because you eat with your 5 fingers...


We started working on the physiotherapy centre yesterday... the guys are busy here changing all the plumbing....

I also had opportunity to visit City Hall again.. I have graduated, and now I have been meeting with my friend and her boss the Vise Mayor... fun stuff... Later today, we will be delivering the first batch of mattresses to the invalid home....
While I was typing this, we closed the deal on the house attached to Vera's feeding program in the village... just in time.. she had out grown the existing building and were sitting outside.... so cool..... We got it for $4000... if anyone wants to help with this.... it would be fine with us ....lol...


Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting started

Today we made the rounds getting projects started..... and visiting old friends... and some new ones.... This is the new baby of one of the families we have been helping ... We stoped at Aigoola's house to order another 20 mattresses for a physiotherapy/help centre we will be opening in a few weeks. That makes over 100 mattresses ordered since we got here... I think it is almost time to consider expansion, but until then I thought I better sit down and help her catch up. or maybe not... Then we went out and took a look at the addition Torat is putting on the barn. He will be comming to town tomorrow, and we will buy him the materials for the roof.
There is a new addition to the farm .... Meet Benjamin.... Julies first born son.
Another stop today was out to the Seniors home to start the heating project there... The old folks were so happy to see us... apparently they knew I was in town and had been waiting for us to come. There are several new seniors living there now... We stoped to visit with them and Anya had a good TALK with one that was not in very good shape...
Tonight we went with Olga to take a look at what we will need to bring the center up to par before we open... Ruslan is assuring me that he can have this maze of old pipping and gas lines cleaned up in 1 day... I did not think you could do anything in a day here....
We also stoped at Vera's centre to take a look at future expansion possibilities ... they have out grown the present building, and the attached house has come available... We have decided to make a very low ball offer and see what happens... crazier things have happened.... Tomorrow we will be heading to the Hospital in the morning to get the renovations started there....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The FIRST supper

We had a great day today... Dave and Ginette got to visit all our friends at the Russian family and then over to the Kyrgyz family. We finished off the day with a trip to the Yurts for shashleek.. Dave was so happy to sink his teeth into some real Kyrgyz shashleek....
It was so nice to have some fun and fellowship with our friends.....
They are going to have a little nap, then tonight Olga will be over to make some planes for the new physiotherapy house we are going to open next week.





Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day two Part two

After visiting a few families in need , we went over to speak with the director of the Baby hospital... she has been very anxiously awaiting our return... in fact almost every day she has called one of our friends... it seems that every time she sees on the news about the economic crisis she is afraid that we will not be able to return...
Why is she so concerned... The hospital that she runs is also facing an economic crisis, and has been for many years... Her hospital is the hospital that you go to if you have no money, of if a baby is given up for adoption... This is the place that the first breaths of life are taken, yet it out of sight and out of mind... it is even located behind the back of the main hospital... you would never find it if you did not know it was there... People help the orphanages.. the help the hospitals, yet no one is there to help them... This has been a real burden and distress for not only the staff at the hospital, but for the government social workers.. they are responsible for providing for these babies, but just simply do not have the funds.
As I walked through the halls ,it struck me... this is likely were all the babies were born that I have come to know so well out there in the blogging community... then I looked down at a pair of new born babies and thought you dear precious child... who is waiting for you.... where will life bring you... As I looked around I remembered why we agreed to take this project on... Because No one else would... THIS IS A DARK CORNER of society.... I have the greatest respect for the head Dr here, so I am not going to show the before photo's until we have a finished product in hand we are there to help, not to embarrass... We got the ball rolling today, and on Tuesday we will be back there and meet with the contractor we have chosen and the journey of transformation will begin... I say journey because it will take a lot more then one team and one fundraiser for this place, but it is a start, and as we bring awareness to the situation, I am sure we will see awesome things happen.... by this time it was 10:30 am and we headed to the capital to meet with our friend we work with for the operations and the homeless programs as well as the rehab centre... now it was not all work... I gathered them all up for a lunch meeting , I decided to take them to the golf course as I knew that they would appreciate the hamburgers there... but our plans were foiled... there was a tournament on so there kitchen was closed... but fortunately the owner is a fellow Canadian, and the next thing you know we were siting down to an all you can eat Canadian style BBQ complete with 2 inch thick T-bone or prime rib steaks done to perfection... likely the best I have ever had.... So tonight you don't need to feel sorry for me...lol...
Now I started this post saying that it is part two... part one is a story you will not want to miss, so you can check it out, in a preview form , over on my blog http://www.actofkindness.blogspot.com/ . or you can wait a few days and you will find it with the details filled in and a plan in place over on the www.iam1ru.com site.
well off to bed... we head for the airport in 3 hours to great the team ....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Not sure how I feel !

I can remember a few years back that Julie said "come with me".... and marched me into our washroom, and said "look at this... This old house is in worse shape then some of the ones from Central Asia that you are posting on the Blog"... she said "Honey the toilet is falling through the floor" ... It was obvious that we needed to do a little work around the house , and we did ... new roof, new bathroom.... but the rest of the house is still an old house.... Today I heard a storey retold to me....
There is a certain person here that has tried to cause trouble for us in the past... one of the accusations is that we must be somehow profiting from what is going on here... well a while ago Sergey and Anya happened to be at an event and ran into this person. My soon coming arrival was topic of discussion.. neither knowing that there was a connection, this person said to Anya.. do you know this Johnybeck.?.. what is your take of him....
Anya Proudly stated "YES of course I know he AND his family... in fact He is my boss... He does everything to help people here. It is more like he works for us.... Then she went on to tell her that when we first started coming she watched all the people we helped, and thought boy they must be rich... then a couple years back... ( after I had fixed the house up... so I thought ) they traveled to Canada... she said that when they got to our home she could not believe... she said it needed so much work .. and his cars were so old to, and she said that she realized at that point how blessed she was to have us.... "
She then told them "That is one of the reasons that we are so careful with every $$$ that comes in and grateful for every penny..It is also why we can do so much... " Now I know what she means , I have spoken about it myself, and PI talks about it as well... ORDINARY PEOPLE DOING EXTRAORDINARY THINGS....The whole " You don't need to be Bill Gates, or Opera... we can all do our part..... It's just that I usually then share a storey of the conditions I face in Central Asia... I never imagined that I would be the storey they shared on this side of the globe.
Really not sure how that makes me feel ...Hummmmm

Touch down ....

For those of you who are following along both here and on my blog, I will be trying to do different posts on each site, but wanted to get the first update out there before I crash... OH and as always... if along the way you see an opportunity that I missed... something you would have liked to do if you were here,... email us and let us know... it may be a great idea for a DREAM, and you may wish to sponsor it... kind of like an interactive trip....
Thank you for joining me on this adventure... I hope you have a great trip ...

The flights were interesting . very crowded from Toronto to London... many on board for the film festival... I was wearing my iam1ru t-shirt, and kept having people staring at me and I could see them mouthing it to themselves... i -aaaammmm- one -are - youuu... then most would come over and ask what it was all about... so I hooked up to Internet right in the airport, and showed people the sight.... by the time I boarded the flight in TO, I was given donations for two birthday parties, and when another pointed out that I had not pealed off the protective coating from the laptop, I told him that with my experiences with computers and traveling, I was best to buy a new one to bring, then find a deserving individual to give it to before I left... he thought that was so cool and gave me the $300 I had paid for it.....how cool is that ?.....
I must say that in the quiet times on the flight , it seemed strange... Central Asia is not far when you are traveling with your family and friends, but when you leave your family behind and travel alone, you realize that it is ... the other side of the world.....

It is now 3:oo in the afternoon. the temperature is around 80 and I have been to the baazar and to the Internet company.... the command centre is officially up and running. I now have a cordless battery operated Internet phone ... it looks like a regular office phone, but needs no wires. This will allow us to hopefully connect with some of our sponsors using live Skye video feeds... as well when we travel away from the village, we can take the phone with us. ... all this for cheaper then it cost to bring the LAN line into the apartment.... how cool is that...

As soon as each new device is up and running, the calls start to come in... I have the next 4 or 5 days booked.. Lots of exciting things happening... I will post some more tonight....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Don't miss an opportunity

Wow ... This is awesome... I get to do the first Trip report on this sight... I just stuck a last minute load of wash in the machine, and in a few hours, I will be heading to the airport... I will be landing in Kyrgyzstan on Friday morning , and joined a few days later by some friends from Quebec...

We have an incredible two weeks planed with them...From a heating system for a Seniors home to an ICU ward for a baby hospital, and everything in between... Stay tuned as we follow up with the work in the villages, the invalid home, the rehab centre, and the families living at the dump... We will be checking in with our friends at the family resource centre, the schools, and the university. We will be helping start a physiotherapy centre for kids, an providing operations for those in need ... We will be spending our down time re establishing our connections with the wonderful kids at a few orphanages as we take them on outings and shopping trips... AND THAT IS JUST THE START.... I am sure that some more exciting new opportunities will arise... stay tuned and be ready... the last thing that you will want to do is miss out on an opportunity to become an everyday philanthropist..... iam1ru ?