Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
That is THE big festive date in Ukraine with many families. Instead of decorating for "Christmas|", people decorate for New Years. Father Frost and Snow Princess are the Santa equivalents, parties are held, visits made and gifts are exchanged. Orthodox Christmas Day tends to be a solemn religious occasion. In a way that makes some sense.
Tanya is itching to get at decorating the house. A couple of years ago you couldn't find much for decorations and now the stores are well stocked with items. Tanya brought home a couple of small things a few days ago. Yesterday we were in Dnipropetrovsk in the Dafi (the Dolphin) Mall at the Big Spoon supermarket, they had two aisles filled with Christmas/New Years decorations and she bought a few more, which she set out when we got home. Next week will be full decoration mode, I expect.
Found a few more things in the Supermarket - winter windshield washer fluid. No more vodka and water in the washer tank. And Teriyaki Sauce, $8 for a 250 ml bottle. We are going to make Teriyaki chicken kebabs. May-B made them for us when we were there so Tanya wants to try it herself. Tabasco sauce, 350 ml bottle for about $35. And real Heinz ketchup and salsa which I didn't price out.
We'll be back to the big city next week again and more Christmas stuff. I love how Tanya decorates the house.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The set up instructions came in 27 different languages. Which tells you something about Europe. No wonder Europeans speak 6 or 7 different languages. Every 25 km you change countries. And languages. Ukraine is the biggest country in Europe not counting Russia of course and it is the size of Saskatchewan. Europeans have no concept of distance, like Russians and Canadians do. "How far do you live from Moscow?" "Not far, only 10 hours by train". Only a Russian could say that and only a Canadian understand it.
Monday, November 23, 2009
A man a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He lowered his altitude and spotted a woman in a boat on a lake below him.
"Excuse me, can you help me?” he shouted down to the woman. "I promised a friend I would meet her an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”
The woman consulted her portable GPS and replied: "You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude at an elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level."
The man rolled his eyes and said, “You must be an Obama Democrat.”
"I am," the woman replied. "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "ask a simple question and you give me this left wing liberal gobbledy gook to show off your college education. I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."
The woman smiled. "You must be a Republican," she said.
"I am," the man replied. "How did you know?"
"Well, you don't know where you are or where you are going,” the woman said. “You obviously have no qualifications for what you are doing and have risen to your current position because of a large quantity of hot air. You have made a promise you have no idea how to keep. You're in exactly the same position you were in before, but somehow it’s now my fault and you expect me to solve your problem and save your a$$.”
Sunday, November 22, 2009
My mother could not wait to send me to school as I was making her crazy at home. However once I got to school and learned to read she never heard froom me again except at meal time. One benefit of a multi-grade classroom is that you automatically learn what the older kids are learning. By Grade 3, I was reading all the library books of the higher grades and couldn't wait for the new box of books to come from the school office each month. With 8 grades to teach and all subjects, we were left to work on our own most of the time, which suited me anyhow.
Dad drove us by car or team and sleigh until I was old enough to handle our own horses. I was in about grade 4 and my brother Ross in Grade 2 when we started riding a pair of old horses to school. In grade 6, we bought brand new CCM 3 speed bikes with our own hard earned money which we rode in summer. We drove the old team and sleigh in winter. Two other families also came by horse. In winter we hung out in the barn sometimes as it was warm and and it was not inside the school.
Rules were different in those days. Recesses and noon hours were unsupervised. All the boys carried jack-knives. When I was 10, I bought a genuine Stockman 3 blade knife that today would be over $100. We played "Stretch" quite a bit and no feet were stabbed. If there were enough kids we played softball with teams and if not enough we played "Scrub", everyone supposedly getting a turn to bat of the noon hour. The school had a high pitched roof and we played a game called "Anti-I-Over".in which two teams one on each side of the school would throw a soccer ball over the school and hope the other tean never caught it. You couldn't cheat because you could hear it bounce.
Every school has its bullies and this one was no exception. My grandfather fought on the School Board with their grandfather; their father and uncle made my father's life miserable and the two brothers made my life hell. They were athletes and I was anything but, therefore easily beaten upon. Although in a sports day event in Grade Three, I won a third prize in high jump, proving that at least young elephants can jump.
Of course we had a Christmas concert every year just before Christmas Holidays. Early in Dec our fathers would show up and set up the stage against the windows while we crowded our desks to the other side of the room. We practiced plays and drills and songs enough to more or less get them down pat. The year we did a Teddy Bear's Picnic marching drill and all our masks fell down so we couldn't see, the effect was far more entertaining than the teacher had hoped for. Santa always came at the end of the concert and brought all the students bags of Christmas candy and oranges. The students drew names and exchanged gifts also.
Winters were cold in the school. There was a big coal and wood furnace in the basement but there were mornings the school was so cold we would all huddle around the big square register in the floor. Once in a while a rubber eraser would get dropped down the register "accidentally" on top of the furnace and we would have to flee the room until the smoke died down. We all packed lunches (and somewhere is my black metal lunch box that I carried for 12 years, still in good condition). In winter we would bring a jar of stew or soup or something and at recess we would put the jars in a boiler with a couple inches of water on the register and by noon they would be hot. Thermos bottles had glass liners and were short lived so never used.
All rural schools in our area were closed in 1960 and we were bussed to a larger school. Six rooms and twelve grades. That is another story.
Bleier - Georgina, Eileen, Leonard
Galbraith – Jack, Tom
Hingston – Allen, Ross
Huber – Fred
Kamer – Joe
Krause – Vince, Carol, Barbara
Robinson – Brenda
Thomas – Elton, Willie, Mike
Uland – Alma, Donna, Betty
Ward – Ralph, Elaine
Watt – Gary, Donald
Ed Bitz (Gr 1)
Arelene Jeffries (Gr 2)
Irene (Veit) Bleier (Gr3-5)
Hilda Ulrich (sub end Gr 5)
Mrs. Smith (Gr 6)
Mrs Barr (Gr 7)
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Today Katya came to help finish the rest of the house, arriving about 9:00 and the two of them have been hard at it ever since. Other than a bit of fetch and carry, cleaning the junk off my desk and making lunch for the ladies, I am uninvolved in the process. Well, I did go to town for cash and to buy some bread and water. The water has turned muddy again, indicating repairs somewhere down the line so we use bottled water for cooking and tea until it clears up again.
Last night, Tanya made compote. She boiled up apricots and strawberries from the freezer and fresh apples in enough water to make a drinkable juice. Nice red, needs sugar but otherwise very good. Katya was working upstairs and it was warm so Tanya said to bring her a glass of compote.
We have this cheap Cherry liqueur, $1.50 per half litre. Tastes like sweet Cherry Kool-Aid with 20% pure alcohol added. Definitely "end of the party" stuff. I poured Katya a tall glass of compote and added a generous dollop of this cherry hootch for good measure. She drank half the glass, pronounced it excellent and then backed off when her face flushed red. I had to explain to Tanya what I had done and was instructed "not to help" anymore.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Husband: I wondered where you got them.
For $5, it is a pretty cheap pick-me-up for my wife. I promised to keep her in roses. House plants are even better.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
My sister sent me a picture taken this fall of the old church we used to attend and many of her memories of it. That got me thinking about the many years I attended services there.
Services were long for young kids and to pass time we would look out the window, trying not to get caught, and count the rail cars as the trains went by or watch the birds in the caragana hedge or anything that moved for that matter.
We looked forward to visitors, especially the “Traveling Ministries” who would come from North Battleford to minister to the little assemblies all over the country. One was Brother Hunt (we were all Brothers and Sisters in the Lord) who was a Greek scholar among other things and very interesting to listen to but also very long winded. Apparently I told him one Sunday that if I had known he was coming I’d have eaten a second bowl of cornflakes. He was the man who convinced me that education was important and that cattle were an integral part of a well managed farm environment. He set me on my life’s journey as a beef cattle specialist. I owe him for that.
Another favourite family was the Hinchliffs. Their son Mark was my age and we would always have a great time playing in the afternoons while the folks visited. And (my future in-laws) the Livingstons. They were Aunt and Uncle long before they became Mom and Dad. Ella came with them the first (and only?) time when she was seven and I was eight. I was smitten and she was less than impressed. Seventeen years later she married me anyway.
The last service was held in the old building in 1987. The young folks all moved away and the old folks either died or moved away. So Dad closed the building down and for the next 15 years drove the hour or so to North Battleford to attend church service. The old church and my grandfather’s old house are about the only two “original” buildings left standing of the little town where I went to school and to church.
Monday, November 16, 2009
We have an unheated attic storeroom over our garage. Once in a long while during the night a sparrow or two will find their way under the eaves into the room and, of course, become trapped. Come morning they beat against the glass on the door from my office as it is the only light they see. This morning there were two birds again. I opened the door and they immediately crashed into the windows in my office, one falling to the floor, the other fluttering in fear against the window. I herded it into the bedroom and opened a window and screen for it but it had crashed into another window so hard it was just sitting also. I picked it up and set it on the ledge by the open window, then went and got the other who was still just sitting on the floor. I set it beside its friend and pulled the curtain across, leaving them to fly out when they chose. When I came back in a few minutes they had regained strength and were gone out the window.
They were so scared and frantic, I felt so bad for them. Life is hard enough for a sparrow but they were at least free to fly. I don't like cages, or pens or chains or fences, though I recognize they are sometimes necessary. I hate it when dogs are penned up, even my dogs with a big yard to run in. There are too many big dogs here that spend their life on the end of a 4 meter chain. For what I don't know, I guess the fear factor must act as a deterrent to people coming in to a yard. I'd like to turn them all lose.
I hate prisons too, though they are also a necessary evil. There should be fewer people in them if we spent more effort at the source of the problems, better safety nets and services to help people before they become criminals. And fewer people if we had more intelligent laws. We don't put kids in jail for smoking a cigarette, nor do we lock up the people who sold them the package. We need fewer people in jail for the "non-crime" of possession and more Bernie Madoff's in jail for so-called white collar crime of fraud and related which cost society so much.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Also for some reason his email showed up on my blog all funny. It is actually just firstname.lastname@example.org
I read all his back newsletters and was struck by his June slide show sermon which you can watch here on Flickr.
This site is the story of a showing of his photographs in Italy and contains some amazing shots. His website http://www.thischildhere.org/ also has many photographs. The orphanage with which he works has a website http://www.wayhome.org.ua/ in Russian. And another partner NGO has this website also in Russian http://streetkids.ua/. I have a Google toolbar that translates websites. I have no idea where I got it but it appeared one day and made istself useful ever since.
Dr. Robert Gamble, D.Min. Th.M.
This Child Here,
C/O Doroga K Domy (The Way Home)
Str. Sofievskaya 10
Ukrainian Mobile: +380 (63) 611-79-28
USA cellphone: +1 (828) 318-2149
Friday, November 13, 2009
Masha is learning to spell. She has a set of interlocking blocks with letters on four sides. She spelled Bobik and Volk and Kuchma for us. Then she spelled out the name of the neighbour's cat (Moorka) by which time I had my camera ready.
At 6:00 I drove them home and en route was flagged over by the local traffic police on a routine check. Here they can stop anyone at any time for any reason. I hauled out my driver's licences (Saskatchewan and International). While I was rooting through the glove box for the registration card, Tanya explained that I was Canadian (and harmless) so he gave my licence a cursory glance and sent us on our way. Masha was asleep by the time we got to their apartment.
In daylight, I have to find that registration card. I know it is in there.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
For purchases except at retail where they take credit cards, either money is deposited directly into a person's or firm's bank account or cash changes hands. Or both. That is how we bought our car, for example. Kia Motors gave us an account number good for two days into which we were to deposit the purchase price of the car. We took the receipt from the bank to the dealership and proceeded from there.
When Tanya and I bought her Ex's share of the house we were directed to deposit half the money into his bank and bring the other half in cash. We had a wad of $100's that would choke a horse and made me very nervous.
While mortgages are available I have no idea how one would get them following these business practices. To me it made sense to borrow the money to buy out Tanya's Ex by taking out a mortgage for his share, using her share as security. Wouldn't happen, Tanya said. No money no signee.
I tried to buy Lingvo dictionary on line to down load. I wanted to buy it as of Ukraine, not Canada as the cost was half and it came with Ukrainian in the bundle, not just Russian English. I wanted to pay for it with my Canadian credit card on line. That too was a non starter. Only credit cards from Ukrainian banks were accepted. We found a shop that carries ABBYY products in Dnipropetrovsk and we'll buy it there. For cash.
We live in a country where fraud could be an everyday occurance and property rights and contract law are pretty hazy concepts; with outcomes by no means predictable. Cash is safe.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
But as in droplets so fine it is more like driving through thick mist. It has been raining all day and yesterday too. I doubt you could measure the actual precipitation without a very scientific device. I'm not very scientific. The dogs outside food dishes are empty of water.
If I wanted to live in Vancouver I'd have moved to Vancouver.
We took food up to Lena's Mother in the hospital as Lena has gone to Dnipropetrovsk for three days for work or for her doctorate dissertation, I don't know. The hospital is quarantined so Tanya could only take the food to the front desk and a nurse will take it to Lena's Mom. The circulation in her legs is so bad because of diabetes. She should have been in a year ago but... She was to the specialist in Krivii Rih yesterday and will go again Saturday. Andrei will drive, for which I am thankful.
The dogs took themselves for a walk today. They hang around the yard after a bit and don't go far. They wait for their "go back in your pen" treats. Good Ukrainian bureaucrats, they have to be bribed to do what they are supposed to do. Kuchma and Tanya are in conflict. She doesn't like muddy floors and he doesn't like getting his feet washed in the tub. Kuchma loses.
Because it was cold and damp, Tanya made chicken giblet soup for supper. Chicken hearts and minds, er gizzards are cheap and we like them, so bleah to you.
The news tonight says Ukraine will buy flu vaccine from Canada. And Russia. And Switzerland. And make it here in Ukraine. And... This I assume is for prevention of the next round scheduled for spring. the election will be over by then so maybe we won't have a flu epidemic.
They claim over 1 million sick and 90,000 in hospital (jumped from 60,000 fter the weekend) but fewer than 200 deaths. The only person acting intelligently at this point is the President who says the country is suffering more from political flu than the actual disease. The government has no money so they are demanding that the national bank finance both Euro 2012 and fighting the flu epidemic from reserves. Yushchenko has vetoed both, citing devaluation of the hrivna. No wonder the IMF have pulled out with parliament acting like idiots.
The Globe and Mail has a good report on the flu situation in Ukraine. It would be funny if it were not true.
"You catch it from imported food and clothing that isn't clean," said Mr. Barsadanyan, an 18-year-old first-year medical student. He is not worried because he heard that the Ministry of Health has "sprayed the city with the necessary products."
I don't know what you folks are doing, but I'm eating lemon, raw onion and garlic to keep my immune system healthy. In Canada it would also serve to keep other people away from you, so you would not catch germs.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
When we think of calling here in Ukraine, we think of cell phones… Everyone uses cell phones, there are several different companies that sell minutes…. In America, we have AT%T, Nextel-sprint and Vorizon; In Ukraine, we have Kievstar , MCI and once called, LIFE, Whenever you meet someone, you trade cell numbers… you can text msg the cell number…
When I think of calling, I think of vocation, jobs and careers,
I hired a secretary… her name is Annya, but I call her Ann. She is part time, well supposed to be, 4 days, 4 hours a day, $50 a week; she actually worked quite a bit overtime. She’s between jobs and going back to school. I met her at church, she volunteered for a day on Sunday and then I asked if she would come to work with me until she started another job.
At the end of the first day in the office and it was quite an eventful day with kids on the street and buying clothes… she sent me message, “This is my Life.”
Oh, I thought, how nice of her to say this … she must have had some epiphany about work and vocation… she’s leaving the business world forever and spending the rest of her life in nonprofits helping children…
So I sent a text msg back. “Welcome to my life!”
But then she came over to my desk … “Robert I was just sending you my cell phone number with the network called LIFE …..”
We joked about it…. later the story got turned around ; she started kidding me….”Robert, you are the only person who really understood me…. Everyone else thinks im just a secretary,
Ukrainian humor can be quite subtle sometimes.
What’s your life? … I hope you are alive.… I am sure you know what I mean when I say, you can be living but not really alive.. Life is out there waiting for you. I don’t care how young and inexperienced you are or old and tired you are. I meet people who say, oh down the road some day I will do it… or if only… and so many people whose lives are a cycle of work, the grocery store, home, eat sleep, get up and do it all over again.
When I come back to the states, I feel the urge to upset the routine, I want to poke people, stir them for a moment…
Jesus did that. If you read the opening chapters of the gospels you will see this phrase repeated, “The Kingdom of God is near.” Jesus disturbed people with that notion. Scholars argue about what he said. What does that mean to say the reign of God is “at hand.” Does it mean he knows something we don’t know? Is something going to happen? Im going to suggest that Something needs to happen, can happen… inside you.
I want to disturb you with the notion that there is something you do not have, and it’s not a minicooper, It’s not a mac air, that fits in an envelope, it’s not i-phone or a Blackberry, (dear Lord please give me a Blackberry) its not something you can buy, or grasp, or own…. It’s a way of living. It’s a way of feeling about your life… and that’s a problem in America: the way we think and feel about our lives.
Here’s an interesting truth: In America, everything is large. We have big cars and houses and highways and buildings. In Ukraine, the roads are narrow and cramped , the apartments small. People squeeze into buses.
But in America, our lives can be narrow and cramped. My life was getting too small, even as the pastor of a large church. I felt squeezed by forces I could not identify. By contrast, in Ukraine I live in a one room apartment, I ride on smaller streets, cramped into buses and trains…. But my life is large. My life is huge. There are no limits or boundaries to what can be done.
I don’t watch television. The Discovery Channel came three weeks ago, the whole idea was show people the glamorous side of some eastern European cities and then a look at what tourists don’t see. I took them to the place below a local Bank where 8 kids were living. And this is a very interesting thing, because I used to watch that channel. In a couple of months, Im going to be on the Discovery Channel.
The world is shrinking; I mean we are getting more and more closely connected, and that’s a really interesting thing because at the same time, it means that opportunities are expanding. You don’t need to travel to Ukraine like I did. …. but the whole world is out there , its at your fingertips; it is live on the monitor of your laptop and in your ears with a headset and microphone. Read The World is Flat by Thomas Friedmann. Just read the first chapter, stand there at the bookstore and read it. It was just multinational corporations, but now individuals are acting globally. It’s the internet , of course. Try Idealist.com . I'm on there along with thousands who are doing something interesting with their lives.
My life is probably not what most of you are interested in doing… Who wants to go to Ukraine? What I am saying is that there is life out there… What I am probing you with is the question, How much would you give to have a life that is large? How much would you pay to have a life you feel that way about? If you saw that film, and it is a dark film, “Revolutionary Road,” you heard Leonardo Di Caprio say that line, “I want to feel really, really alive…”
Well you can… feel… really alive.
Now we have to shift the conversation…. Lets assume you want this life that is large… you have something you wish to do with your life… and you don’t feel prepared to do… more than that, you feel you haven’t the energy to do… . you want to do this thing, but… it just seems too fantastic. What do you need to do? go back to school? Or just change your routine so that you start volunteering somewhere… or you want to start a new business or non profit or be an artist or a writer. I'm just throwing things out there… whatever… its massive when you look at it.
How can I do this?
You have to believe something….
Im a Presbyterian , and I highly recommend the Presbyterians….. but whatever belief system you have , it helps to believe something. I encourage you to believe God gets involved. I encourage you to believe in yourself, there is something at hand, near… the time is at hand, and opportunity.
I am talking about faith. That sounds trite, but I don’t think you have to be this tower of faith. You don’t need the faith to believe it’s all going to happen. All you need is enough belief to take a little step in that direction. Just enough faith to make a phone call. Just enough faith to do a google search or buy a book …. Just enough faith to sit down with pen and paper and write down five things you would need to do.. not actually do them, just to write them down.
Frederick Buechner has a beautiful line in his sermon “A Sprig of Hope” in which he describes the call of Noah then gives us the picture of Noah standing there after the conversation with God, the wheels in his head turning… .”and then Noah took a few steps,” Buechner writes, “in the direction of… the lumber yard.”
When I knew it was time for a change in my life after being the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Daytona Beach for 9 years, I knew only that I had to have time to think. I needed a sabbatical. University professors get a year, I just wanted three months. It was a very difficult thing to ask for, but I was desperate. I didn’t need the faith or believe in myself or courage to make a change in my life, just the enough of the above to say, “Can I have three months for study and thought.” I asked and I got it.
Then enough faith to buy the ticket to Ukraine
Then enough to get on the train to Odessa, Ukraine where I knew NO ONE. And then on the first day there in the lobby of the working man’s hotel where I was staying, I met a woman. When I told her I was interested in working with children in orphanages, she took me to the people I work with today, The Way Home.
Just enough faith, just enough, just enough… and then …. Things begin to happen… and pretty soon you can’t stop it.
I don’t know where the threshold is, when it is that you stop climbing and climbing like everything is a struggle, but at some point you start sliding forward, or skiing or sledding…. Riding the wave… if you surf during a storm in Florida, you know that you have to fight the waves to get out. But when you get on a wave… there’s nothing like the ride you get back in.
Just faith the size of a mustard seed. Jesus said…. And in another parable, the farmer plants the seeds and then rains and sunshine come the seed grows, first the bud then the stem , then the kernel , the farmer knows not how….
Now I want to shift your thinking a little from “how can I do this thing I want to do?” to “What can we do?” Because this is where I am at right now…. You will get there too.
Sometimes, it seems, there is nothing you can do. You can make a person, by force or money, do what you want them to do, but you can’t make someone love you. You can’t make them believe what you believe. You can’t make them make the right choices in their own lives. This is the frustrating thing about work with street kids, they constantly disappoint you. Even when you say, “tomorrow, I will be here and bring you food, or buy clothes for you,” often, they don’t show up. They choose the streets, they choose to this downward lifestyle, no job, no education, no future, and one day they are no longer a child begging for change, they are an adult, a homeless adult. They chose an early death.
Alla is a psychologist who works with me. She is an Evangelical Christian…. She’s been Othodox, Catholic and now goes to the Pentacostal church. And normally, in the states we might not talk about these categories, but in Ukraine, they become more important to understanding someone. Alla is wise person. Unshakable in times of crisis.* She knows kids. I trust her and her commitment.
We were sitting in a café; we were at a point in the conversation about street kids in which there seemed to be no answer. These kids often will not leave the streets, will not take care of themselves, they can live like animals. We bring them into the shelter and they run away. What are we going to do? What can we do? I said.
What she said was, “We can be near.”
This word, “near” in Greek comes from a primary verb …there’s a humorous side to it, “to squeeze or throttle.” You’re that close… but it also means, “the curve or inner angle of the arm, anything closely enfolding, as the arms of the sea.”
Sometimes it is all you can do, it is enough for the time, just to be present, just to be near. Be those arms, enfolding, like the sea.
And when have been underground, down the man holes or in abandoned buildings, and we are walking away and nothing got fixed, no kids changed their lives, I have to remind myself that for a little while, we were there, we were near….
This takes us full circle. Back to the reign of God which is at hand, back to the thing that has to happen inside you. And how you make that change in your life and do this thing that seems on the front end impossible. Think about nearness. Those near to you. Those you can be near to. The nearness of God. I leave you with the words of a man named Paul about nearness and living a life that is large.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, sisters and brothers whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
*Once, early in the morning, we were underground in the darkness, under a bank actually with 8 kids who still sleeping, Alla, myself, a producer and cameraman from NBC. The police came down. We stood against a wall, Alla first, me then the two from NBC. We didn’t speak or move or use our cell phones for light. The police were shouting, cursing, telling the kids to come out. There was a little passageway to get into the room, you must bend over and it’s just wide enough to squeeze though. A policeman came in shined his light, the first face he saw was Alla’s. “How can talk like this to these children!” she barked. She shamed them for the way they spoke to street kids. Outside, on the street, the three of us men quietly walked away from the scene and stood across the street, leaving Alla to deal with the police who were taking all eight kids into custody for questioning, We men, of course, were like disciples fleeing in fear.
I don’t know the name of this boy from the streets who is enjoying soup.
A group of seven came that day to eat with us. Zolushka whose name means Cinderella, was the one I was happiest to see. For the past three months, no one would say where she was living.
Here's two more boys on the streets, age nine and…
eleven. They live with two older teenagers under an apartment building. The eleven year old has some skin infection, we are trying to convince him to go to the hospital. We tried to get the younger one to come with us, but the eleven year old talked him out of it. At what point do you just grab them???
Oksana, a translator for Aids Alliance from Kiev, climbing out of a hole
Monday, November 9, 2009
CBO's are an efficient way of delivering social programming at the community level. They are funded by government but, as they are run by grassroots volunteer boards from the communities themselves, they are much more flexible and efficient than if they were part of government ministries.
The problem of course is that they are chronically underfunded. There is no political glory in looking after the vulnerable people of society. As a result, staff salaries are substantially lower than they would be doing similar work inside government.
The website is looking to raise awareness in the general public and generate support for fair remuneration. Readers are asked to support their community by writing to the Minister of Social Services.
What kinds of activities do CBO's perform in your community? Some things are listed on the website and I would add:
- Suicide and Gambling help lines - 24 hour counseling services
- Child protection - rescuing kids from dangerous home situations
- Dealing with domestic violence and out of control families
- Assisting people with mental disabilities, drug and alcohol problems
A comprehensive list would be fairly long but would make for a more informative website as would a contact email address for more information, though the Union websites are linked.
Please, watch their short video and support their cause with a letter to the Minister. Being unappreciated for the work they do is not a good feeling.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Tanya and Lena banked dirt around the roses while...
Roman and I got the fire going to make a good bed of coals
Roman set the skewers of marinated pork over the coals and ...
In a few minutes they were done to perfection.
Sasha, Oksana, Al, Artur, June 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Long long ago on another November 7, when I was about 10 years old, Dad was breaking 15 ha (40 acres) of native prairie which he no longer needed for horse pasture. He had pushed some dead brush off the field into a sheltered area of poplars and willows around a slough which he wanted to burn. It was a warm day (like today) and he decided we should have a weiner roast. So he sent us boys home to get mom organized and out she came with all the fixin's for our impromptu picnic.
In Saskatchewan. On November 7. We had an outdoor picnic in light jackets. That was a record, at least for our family and we never forgot it.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
According to MIGNews (again) there are two types of seasonal flu virus as well as A/H1N1 that they are dealing with. Death toll is up to 95 now, mostly the "usual suspects) and while Ukraine has an epidemic in terms of people becoming ill, mortality is well below epidemic levels.
Of course the politicians are loving every minute of it. Yulia Timoshenko had a huge rally in Independence Square a week or 10 days ago and since then the flu has swept Kyiv. Victor Yushchenko said " I told you guys in April to get your act together and you did nothing". Etc.
However there is more to this than we are being told officially. In an earlier blog I mentioned that they were referring to an unknown virus in Ivano-Frankivsk as "pneumonic plague".
PNEUMONIC PLAGUE has an acute course than other forms, over and is accompanied by a very high mortality rate. The incubation period of primary pneumonic plague rarely exceeds more than 1-4 days. It begins, as a rule, suddenly - with shivering, fever, headache, myalgia, weakness, nausea. The symptoms of pneumonia - cough with phlegm, chest pain, shortness of breath - usually appear on the second day of the disease. Blood spitting, growing respiratory disorders, heart failure, respiratory failure, shock are being observed. In primary pneumonic plague phlegm usually is watery or mucinous, foamy, with blood or visibly bloody.
A secondary pneumonic plague occurs as interstitial pneumonia. Phlegm is scanty and more dense and viscous than in primary pulmonary plague. It is believed that in this regard, patients are less contagious.
However if the government knows anything about it it is keeping a lid on it.
The Kyiv city state administration asked law enforcement authorities to prevent the spread of misinformation in the capital of Ukraine of leaflets about the situation with the epidemic of influenza. This is stated in the protocol instructions of city emergency anti-epidemic commission from the City Hall on November 4.
One reason for this treatment was the appearance in the city of leaflets allegedly on the letterheads of the General Directorate of Health and medical care of the Kyiv City State Administration that there are cases of pneumonic plague in the city. First Deputy Chairman of Kyiv City State Administration Irena Kilchytska informed. She stressed that the information on the identification of pneumonic plague in Kyiv does not correspond to reality.
There are more rumours going around which I will try to confirm in the next day or two. Tanya just read a news item that stated China had an outbreak of Pneumonic Plague in Qinhai in August 2009. This will get worse before it gets better.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
255,000 cases of flu and acute respiratory problems have been registered among the 46m population. 15,000 have been hospitalised. The World Health Organisation says there is no evidence to suggest that Ukraine had a bad outbreak of swine flu, but it has agreed to send a team there to help the country cope.
Since not every person is tested and many cases are reported as "Acute respiratory disease" it is hard to say how many are A/H1N1, regular seasonal flu gotten out of hand or pneumonia. People are home treating until it is too late in many cases. As in the situation below reported by MIGNews:
Swine flu was confirmed in Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky (Kyiv Oblast). In particular, the chief sanitary doctor of the Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky district Ivan Bryl said that the virology laboratory of the regional sanitary and epidemiological station gave a positive result for the virus H1N1.
"The sick man - a man at the age of 59 in very grave condition. He has been in hospital with medical ventilation apparatus from this Sunday. The man fell ill on October 19. He had fever up to 38 degrees but did not go to hospital. On 24 October, his temperature rose to 40 degrees. The patient asked medical care only on October 27, and on October 30 he was transferred to intensive care department ".
The doctor also said that relatives and friends of ill person are healthy. "We tested those who contacted the patient. His family, wife and mother are healthy. His friends and acquaintances are also healthy" - he said.
The doctor has no information, where a man could become infected with swine influenza. According to him, the patient is a native of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky district, and has no recent contacts with the residents of Western Ukraine.
The report did not include that he was a heavy smoker and thus at extreme risk for exactly what happened.
This is our good friend Sasha, whom I have known for over 14 years. He is one of the best interpreters I ever worked with, who spoke fluent "cow" and was familiar with Canadian livestock production, having been several times to Canada, including Agribition back in the late 1990's. We got a phone call from another friend notifying us just before I found it on the web. He is "stabilized" according to latest reports from our friends in P-K.
All we can do now is pray and hope for the best.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
We jacked the heat to 4, in spite of news that gas prices will double in 2020 for homes using more than 2500 cu meters in 2009. We will have used about 3500 so we are now looking at about 1500 UAH ($200 CAD)/1000 cu meters instead of 750 UAH ($100 CAD). Still pretty cheap in my books as Europe is paying much more, I think.
According to MIGNews the there is no pandemic of A/H1N1 in Ukraine, though it has been identified in some cases including three deaths. It is just "seasonal flu and acute respiratory disease" which is very serious in Western Ukraine and has already resulted in the deaths of over 70 people.
Of course, I am not sure about MIGNews as it reads more like the National Enquirer and the journalisitic style may be one reason there are an increasing number of laws restricting "freedom" of the press. A good school of journalism would be in order for people who write such as this article or this one.
Tanya was talking to Masha today. Masha said she had a new game to teach her. One person is the cat and one is the dog and they have to chase each other around the house. Tanya asked "Your parents don't want to do this?" "No". "Tell them they are lazy". "Oh, Babushka, that would not be good at all to say they are lazy. Papa is sick (back) and Mama is sick (flu)".
Tanya pretended she was going to punch me today. I said "What have I done?" "If I knew, I would probably kill you".
Sunday, November 1, 2009
TV news said death toll is now 58 people. They are flying in a plane load of Tamiflu from Switzerland into Kyiv tonight.
Yesterday Lena and Roman stopped in for a visit. Lena looked and felt like death warmed over. I asked if she had the flu and Roman and I simultaneously went "oink oink". If looks could kill...
Always at the beginning of winter, I am cold until I get aclimatized. These past few days have been no exception. Along with a headache and generally bleah feeling. Blood pressure up and down like a toilet seat at a party. I slept all afternoon. Tanya brewed some strong black tea and that helped the blood pressure and headache. Never quit coffee cold turkey.