Imagine for a moment...
Trip Start May 25, 2007
10Trip End Jun 04, 2007
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...bribing your way to a college degree. It happens everywhere here in Ukraine, and very much so for doctors. What kind of society does that create? It happened in Tajikistan, too. One of Chris's friends we hang out with for a day was playing cards with his professor. The prof ran out of money, so Manush passed his classed as a result. Needless to say, we don't want to see doctors here if we can help it.
...having operations over and over again when you don't really need them. It happens all the time.
...living in a vegetative state for 37 years, and the doctors not ever giving a diagnosis. One of our patients mothers has taken care of her for this long and has very few resources to help her. She was once told it was due to the fact that the father was a foreigner, and it was the foreign blood. She still believes this. They then gave her daughter chemicals which fried her brain. There is virtually no hope in this case now.
...being abandoned at the children's orphanage for mental retardation when you were five, only to discover that the child is simply deaf. Olik is an extremely handsome, strapping young man of 25. He still lives in the orphanage. He is an amazing craftsman and knits clothes for the other kids. He is also an excellent barber, and he cuts all the kids hair. He needs to be around normally developed individuals and could lead such a wonderful life. This is all he knows, and quite honestly, probably all he will ever know.
...being from a small village and being raped by your cousin. Having a mentally challenged child as a result, but your family or friends don't believe it. They toss you out. Natasha moved to the city, leaving her child behind with her parents. Her story was then on national news. At age 28, her father has now threatened to kill her if she ever comes back. No contact with family or her child of about 10 years old.
On top of that, she was born different already. She is a midget, if that is the politically correct term these days. She is gorgeous with a huge smile and warm heart. With her disability, she now has two college degrees and can't get a job. She only very recently got a part-time job at a library. She made beatufil crafts out of lots of products they brought last year from JoAnne Fabrics. I boughts many gifts, of which didn't total much, but it was enough to pay her monthly living expenses.
...working productively for 38 years, then having a surgery, which didin't go quite right. You started gaining lots and lots of weight. They can't tell you why or what to do now. Florica now sits her home, 10 years going. She weighs 470 lbs. and her stomach hangs on the floor between her legs. She is very open about it and asks us what we can do for her. She has a beautiful, tender face, much life my Grandmother had.
...lying in your 9th floor apt. in your bed for 10 years due to an accident at work. The doctors are unable to help you. Maria is frail and speaks with an extremely high voice and has a former co-worker stop by to help her quite regularly.
This is what we are seeing here, and there are so many more stories just like these. We have visited an orphanage, and old people's home (who have no one at all), some went to a baby orphanage, and we are all doing private home visits. Everyone has been so receptive, and upon leaving each house, I grab each one and kiss them. They grab me back and kiss me all over. They simply love that we are there to try, and they love the attention. Many have cried and are very passionate about their situation. Today, we saw a former doctor from Chernobyl. She has had two strokes and many other ailments due to the nuclear accident.
These people simply need love. They want someone to care, and Spacibe (thank you) flows from their mouths time after time.
It has been an exhausting two weeks. This week is mentally draining. We have two more days to go in Chernivtsi, then we will go back to Kiev. A doctor arranged for a very outlandish (kinda sad after the work we do each day) dinner two nights ago. When we arrived, there were at least 20 plates of appetizers, including caviar and other seafood. Of course, we all ended up sick from something on the table, most likely the seafood. So, I have now been sick for a total of about 3 days this week and have lost a few lbs., at least the others say so. What a diet! I would perfer an hour of the thigh master!
Public transport is really exhausting. In Tajikistan, I counted 21 at one time in the back of a little van that had about 12 seats. Chris said they usually fit 10 more. This, with me standing up with my neck to the ceiling and head turned at a 90 degree angle. Today we had so many on a bus that people were being crushed as the door closed and opened. There is always room for me. And the smell, well, you might know about Europe and Central Asia and deoderant. You just get use to it.
The Chernobyl museum was something I didn't mention that we hit last weekend in Kiev. It was on the same level of emotion as the Holocaust Museum in DC and the A-Bomb Museum in Hiroshima, Japan. Only this was due to stupid human error rather than human hatred.
We were followed by a news crew today all day, and they filmed us in homes, filmed Kim, one of our students from TN training some social workers, and they also filmed a few of us with the mayor at the grand opening of what is suppose to be an OT facility. That is another story. But, it was a fun experience, and we were shown with the mayor and got our picture taken. All of this was shown on the evening news, and they played an interview of me from this afternoon. I think Vira wanted them to talk to me, as men get more respect in the cullture. At any rate, it was a riot, and my Ukrainian sounded great (when dubbed!). :-) I basically told them we hope to bring more resources from America to their community which needs them so badly.
On that night, just imagine...imagine all of this today when you are at work getting frustrated, when you are in line at the grocery store and get held up by a slow customer, or when you are in traffic fighting your way to get home. Be kind to one another, and definitely be patient. 'Cause even on the worst day, we have it made!
Love to all of you...Jerry
PS Still no means of downloading pics, but I will do them all when I get home. I also have some wonderful video for youtube, including a very excited babushka (old lady) when she looked at our digital picture!