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Cover Story February 14th, 2008

  Untitled Document

cover

by lyle e davis

On this Valentine’s Day, 2008, I fully intend to tug at your heart strings a bit . . . perhaps even to draw a tear or two. If we’re lucky we’ll even touch you enough that you’ll pull out that creaky old wallet of yours, pull off the cobwebs that have accumulated over the years, and motivate you to send a shilling or two to help out a worthwhile cause.

This week’s cover story is both sad, yet inspirational . . . a tale filled with austerity, challenge, drama, tragedy . . . most everything you’d expect in a major Broadway play. Yet this isn’t Broadway. It’s real life It’s not even in New York . . . but far, far away, across the sea . . . in a place called The Republic of Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is where a young gal responded to a calling . . . and went there to help. Her name was discussed here a couple of weeks ago (http://thecommunitypaper.com/archive/2008/01_31/index.php) in a cover story titled . . . “We Didn’t Come Just to Watch . .”

You may recall that Desiree' is a young lady who spoke to our Kiwanis Club about three years ago. To make a long story short, she felt called to go to Uzbekistan and help out with an orphanage that was loaded with kids, mostly sick kids. Really sick kids. Cerebral Palsy, Hydrocephalus, the sick kids nobody seemed to want.

Upon arrival she found that the culture in Uzbekistan was totally different from home. Uzbekistan, was formerly part of the Soviet Union. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south.

It’s a rough country, as you are about to find out. We send you today a series of emails that Desiree has been sending for some time. These emails describe not only the trials and tribulations she faces . . . but those of the children. You will learn, vicariously, what it is like to live in a foreign country that is sometimes hostile, sometimes uncaring, yet, slowly, beginning to accept and understand that it is okay to help out your fellow man.

We were so moved by Desiree’s story that we have begun, effective today, a weekly feature known as ‘Desiree’s Diary.’ You’ll find it on Page Four, the Local News Page. Each week you’ll be able to follow Desiree’s activities, thoughts, actions, and prayers.

What I have failed to mention is that Desiree is not so healthy herself. Desiree has MS. Multiple Sclerosis. It’s a progressive disease. How much longer she’ll be able to serve her mission, we don’t know. Upon arrival in Uzbekistan she adopted her daughter, Umida. Umida has a prosthetic leg yet, as you will see, practices and competes in swimming meets. That’s Desiree and Umida in the photo above.

What follows is pure Desiree’. Her accounting, in somewhat chronological order, of what has happened with her life, which, she feels, is rewarding though certainly challenging. We pick up her journal entries as of:

September 10, 2007
There's a new uneasiness here now. Inflation has become the new control and is literally forcing people to starve. Bread that cost 100 Cym last May (and in all the years that I have been here) is now 400 Cym. The tram when I first arrived in Tashkent was 40 Cym is now 220 Cym. Those two increases alone have caused the people great suffering. This crush on their lives mixed with their inherent hospitality creates an awkward uneasiness; a readiness to be subjugated.

photoAdd to that, the start of Ramadan which starts with a big feast and partying on September 11. The timing is eerie. As they begin a time of fasting, which is accompanied by an already existent hunger, I pray that their famine is filled with the Bread of Life.

Besides the inflation shocker, we have been doing quite well adjusting. Although Eager met us at the airport, we haven't seen or heard from him, as he was at batting practice (church) all week. Buddy (our dog) is healthy and still very protective. The cat, Charley, looks as if the price of bread solely affected her. It is emotionally difficult to embrace her skeletal frame, though nightly I find her cuddled against Umida. If she lives, I will be surprised.

It looks like we will move in October, to an old, deeply cultural neighborhood. I have not seen the house but am told that it is comfortable, with grape vines, persimmon and other fruit trees.

Meanwhile, I don't yet have a driver and that makes daily living extra hard. It's a 35 minute walk to the bazaar and the heat is well into the 100's. There's only so much weight that we can carry, thus we have had to make several trips and otherwise, we are learning to be creative with what we have. Just exchanging money takes considerable effort.

One requirement to work here is an annual AID's test. The International Clinic charges $50.00 plus an office visit fee. The local run clinic charges $8.00 flat. In a country where AIDs is spreading rampantly, the decision to be tested in a local clinic was tough. We waded past the bleeding, sick and injured and found the closet, (normally one would say office', but this was too small to be termed such), where I was to be tested.

The door opened, I entered. There sat two ladies. One was busy cutting brand new testing strips lengthwise (a brilliant cost saving idea) and the other was busy handling packaged needles. Not one of them said a word to me. The closet was small enough that there was only one place for me to sit. It was neither a chair nor a table, but it made do as a place to sit.

I waved my receipt and the needle lady gave one nod of her head, still not a word spoken. I gave her my arm. She stood up washed her hands, put on gloves, swabbed my vein, and stuck me straight away. I asked what to do next and she explained that I had to come back at 5PM to get the results. With no car, returning to get the results would be yet another challenge.

In my attempt to buy an Internet card, it took over an hour, walking from merchant to merchant in the scorching heat. It took me 20 minutes to figure out how to setup the connection on my computer and although I was connected, I could not access the Web. When it does load, my speed is 18.6 or at most 28.8 Kbps.

My first trip to the Q Orphanage will be Tuesday. This will be an observational visit and our team will gather later to discuss a plan of action and what my role will be. We have had daily meetings and enjoyed a dinner together last night.

Desiree'

09-13-07
photoWe left the Q (Q) Orphanage today, weeping, our hearts aching so much that it was difficult to take in breath. We prayed as we drove away and talked of what direction we might take in the Q. So many children are on the edge of life; their knees, elbows and ribs protruding, their lips scabbed from dehydration, their faces sunken to the skull. The only attention they seem to get is from the flies that linger about their faces. These children are too weak to whisk away flies or even roll themselves over. They lie motionless on their backs, wrapped in soiled rags. Some children let out a cry, not a typical child's cry, but an aching moan that can't be calmed by my hand rubbing circles on their bellies or even my usually fail-safe "dolphin" noise.

The staff assures me the children "eat." I am provided a list of products: fortified flour, buckwheat, skim milk, sugar, and cereal. They even tell me there's a chart to prove that the food was given, so how can this be? I know that here in Uz rarely is something as it seems. I have seen charts created that to all appearances look great and show progress, but I have also seen children die who were on that chart. One must look at the children and not a document to see how well they are doing. How does one justify such discrepancy? How does one work day after day and witness the decline and ultimate death of children?

photoI am not immune to the limitations set. I am told that I cannot feed the children; I cannot bring in food for them. I am told they have "more than enough" food. What power creates such lies? What power can allow this needless suffering? I see these children as a testimony of the land. How they have, yet they die. Suffocated by bureaucracy and doomed to silence. No way out and no way to resist, for even the tiniest morsel provided by abusive hands is better than nothing.

As we approached the bazaar, music blared, which is typical, but this was a song in English. I believe it was an old spiritual, "Let my people go." We smiled at each other and pondered the significance of such a tune, played here and in a public place. It gave us hope and we believe that song played for our English ears to hear.

Desiree'

09-20-07
Because of the climate and my approach to resolving the situation at the Q (orphanage), I had been banned from being there. However, from what I can gather, my new supervisor and others apologized for my methods and excused me as needing more cultural training. Not sure what they said or what light that leaves me in, but next week I will be allowed to return.

What did I do that was so offensive? I had a meeting with another international organization (one I used to consult for) that is working at the Q. I met with them in an attempt to discover what they were doing or providing so that we would not duplicate or plan something unneeded (Mistake #1). Historically much duplication takes place, because usually the provision covers the obvious. I asked what method they were using to measure the success of the milk they were providing (Mistake #2).

In turn, that organization went to the Q spreading lies and accusations about me and what I had done. Of course, the director is infuriated and bans me from coming, though I am not to know anything about it at all. How can I not go, if I don’t know I am not supposed to? It’s all a bit convoluted and unfortunately devastating to my work here.

One can only guess what was said about me so that my new organization could continue to provide services at the Q. My concern is not that I am the dumb-American who doesn’t know the Uzbek language, but rather that I will be placed in a position of low and ill-effective service. Direction has been given that I am not to discuss the matter at all. So, I must pretend I am unaware of what transpired over the past week.

After living here 7 years, my experience tells me that something shady or unproductive was going on with the distribution and consumption of the milk and that my innocent questioning of the activities caused some nervousness and anger. If it was all as it appeared to be, my inquiring would not have been offensive, even in this culture. Nonetheless, I am learning to play by new rules and I bet that there’s no doubt that the children are receiving the milk as in the project design. Uzbek lesson this week: Never shame or question someone’s activities. Don’t point out dirty laundry.

The ban did however give me much needed time with Umida and getting her well established in school and find a swimming facility, which she’ll use three times a week. She is doing great in school and she really enjoys this program. She tells me almost every day that she is happy here in Uzbekistan. That same week, my new organization has told me I must get rid of my dog. In this country we really have very few pleasures, but the dog provides companionship as well as protection. The reason they gave me for getting rid of him is that Uzbeks don’t like dogs and they won’t come visit your house if you have one. Of course, I am the dumb-American who doesn’t know the culture, but I can for a fact say I have had many Uzbeks in my house, but not one burglar. To get rid of the dog, means that we will have to kill him, since he is a one owner breed and most people can’t afford the cost to feed him.

While that directive was and still is heavy on my heart, my telephone was out of service, my cell phone didn’t work, we had no driver, no helper, and no access to Internet (Umida’s schoolwork must be sent daily over the Net). Oh yeah … and intermittent electricity. Since we were told we had to move, we have not settled in and are reluctant to get too comfortable or fix things that are broken. Unfortunately, as directed, I told my landlord that this would be my last month, but now it seems we may be here longer, as suitable, official, legal, housing has not been found for us.

My friend, Cindy, has been a huge blessing. She had her people try and take care of the phone problems for me and she took me for some necessary grocery shopping.

The phone company said my telephone lines were fine, so that night, in desperation, I disemboweled the phone box and rewired it myself. Now the phone works, but Internet is not possible at connection speeds of 8.6 and maximum 22.1 Kbps. Therefore, we hike up the street and grab a taxi or a tram for the trip to a teammate’s house, so that we can send and receive email.

One new project I have is to make bean bags for the orphanage. This would allow bed ridden children to eat in a proper position rather than flat on their backs. Plus the sensory stimulation would be beneficial, as well as helping build upper body strength. Umida is excited about this project and we need ideas for fillers since the little plastic pellets aren’t available here. We are experimenting with pistachio shells and an extra layer of material for comfort. Pistachio shells will be difficult if this product goes to mass production – but for now getting the shells is a mighty tasty job. Everything else we have found to be too heavy. If it works well, we’ll need a sewing machine and we’ll introduce it to the orphanage as a job training/money making plan, pending approval.

Desiree’

9.27.07
I have been introduced to the group of children that I have been given responsibility for at the Q. Prior to meeting them; strict instructions on how to dress for our journey to the Q were given, but also directives to bring a change of clothes and shoes for working with the children.

Once changed, I was escorted, which is something new for me, to the group of kids I was being assigned to work. Though some of the faces were familiar, my heart sank for when I had last seen them, these toddlers were little babies. Other faces were new and it seemed every child was burning with fever and the beginnings of scabies. A few children were walking; others though they might be capable, seemed to have no desire to even attempt any physical exertion. They laid motionless, eyes glazed over, with only an occasional groan that signaled they were alive. Their eyes, oh how to describe what their eyes say?

I began with accessing each child's current abilities, with simple game-like tests; "give me a high five", "clap your hands", "touch your nose" and for others even more simple games of eye contact and testing abilities to hear. When extending my hand above their heads for a high five, every child flinched. This reaction is the hardest for me to observe. If trust is built for such a game without flinching, am I not setting them up to be hurt even more? This may be an instance where love is not enough.

Most of the children are still in rags for diapers and some cannot feed themselves. My expectation is that each child, given proper nutrition and guidance can eventually walk and feed him/herself. A few children are desperately depressed and some are downright aggressive. A nut, one nut, still in its hard casing, just small enough to fit in their open mouths, circulated its way around the room, either by force or by being dropped by uncooperative, spastic, saliva coated hands. This nut was covered in drool and other muck, but it popped around the room like a foosball on a competitive table. Every child skillfully grabbed for it and despite its inability to soothe hunger, the nut somehow scored its way in the mouth of every child.

One child came to me as I sat on the couch and put her head in my lap. She stood there with her arms stretched over my legs and her head face down in my knees. I patted her back and could feel the fever from her body. She seemed to melt. It was obvious that she was miserably sick and just wanted to be comforted, to rest. It was not the designated nap time, so she was forced to tough it out with the rest of the kids, just hanging out in the room.

Soon, many children were crying for what seemed no reason. I was told that they do this everyday at about the same time, because lunch was about 20 minutes away and they were crying for hunger. Other children were defending themselves against the one child who had commandeered the fly swatter and began swatting anyone within reach. A small girl in the community crib, vomited and the stench quickly filled the dank room. A worker grabbed her by the arm in suspension, set her in another spot on the blanket and folded the edge of the blanket over the putrid mess.

In a system where one is penalized for asking for more blankets or clean clothes, I guess the worker's response was the best one available. Except that the needs of the child were ignored for lack of options. Not uncommon, is that it is most likely, that we will be held responsible for the child's sickness, since she was NOT vomiting before we arrived.

We need strength and wisdom.

Desiree'

10-04-07
Spending time at the Q, has eased some of life's tensions. I've been able to start working with my group of kids and we're building some good relationships. The gov't workers in my group were especially pleasant and commented on how becoming my large face and large eyes are. They called me "healthy" and kept jabbering at how "solid" I was and how my face was "bright". This lead to questions of my ancestry and although I told them my grandfather was from Czechoslovakia and my grandmother Germany , they still wanted to know what that made me. Somehow, an "American" did not suffice.

The cold weather has come and I am unprepared. No winter skirts or coats; basically no winter clothes at all. Since the heating system in the house is not functioning, I have resigned to sleep with camels for warmth; a camel hair blanket that is. Umida's first question upon my purchase was whether or not the camel had to die to be used as a blanket. I assured her it did not, but the thought of a bald, bleeding camel did enter my mind.

The inconveniences of life here are beyond imagination. The heating systems are fueled by gas heated water that is circulated through radiators in each room. It works with the assistance of gravity.

I was at a loss for what to do. Cindy called and sent over two of her guys who spent three and half hours working on the heating system. It lasted through the night, but when I returned from work today, the house was cooler than the thing we call a fridge.

We had no hot water this morning, but in urgency to leave the house, it did not occur to me to check the ignition of the hot water heating system, which is completely different than the house heating system. However, it did occur to me once I was 40 minutes from home. Five hours later, I ran to the basement (thoughts of bats and dirty snaggled tooth creatures hiding behind massive spider webs) and before I even went down the stairs I could smell and hear the gas hissing like an angry dragon. I braved through it, shut of the gas valve and waited.

A few hours later, I gave instructions to Umida on what to do should I blow up and armed her with telephone numbers of English speaking people. I again descended the stairs and swiped away webs so that I could reach the ignition point with a lit match. It lit right up with a whorl and I blazed up the stairs right into the "safety" of my cool, occasionally supplied with electricity house of which the front door lock has broken and made it impossible to be opened from the outside. We have been leaving it unlocked and praising God for providing us with His "Buddy" security system.

Adding to the frustrations or blessings, I have a cold that is bearable, but a cold nonetheless. Most of our evenings have been filled with meetings and I'd much rather have a cold than have a meeting; unfortunately, I have both. The time at the Q makes it all worthwhile and I hope HE shines brighter and warmer there than any type of heating system.

Desiree'

10-10-07
Now that the electricity issue has been resolved, we hope to not have our electric line cut again. As was evidenced by last weeks chaos, that's the way the electric company, handles unpaid bills and illegal wiring. Once the bill was paid in full, they came within an hour to manually cut the line again. The reason was some illegal wiring and an antiquated meter, of which can only be read from within the house. After hours of cultural style arguing, my landlord agreed to pay a $100 "fee", aka bribe, to not have the line cut again. It had already been off for over 30 hours.

So, a new meter has been installed and the illegal wiring has been removed and I hope that resolves the drama.

Two new babies have arrived at the Q; both under 2 months old and both girls. One has severe club feet and some bone malformation. Her name is Siyora. She's absolutely stunning. My aim is to get her the necessary surgeries and to have her parents involved from the beginning, so that a reunification can take place. The hard part for me is working within the boundaries of my new organization and understanding what I can and cannot do.

My group of kids is called "Group 2" and I am narrowing down what to do with them. Several of them have cerebral palsy (CP) and receive little physical activity or stimulation. One of the girls, Tursonoy, is very bright but, besides her CP, she is visually and hearing impaired. She calls me "Oya" which is mom, but it is what she calls everyone. I am working with her on balance and just exposing her to never before seen things like TOYS.

photo

Desireee with Ofpak and Zuhkra

Yesterday, I taught Otibek how to hammer and how to slide a lever. Sounds simple, but these kids don't know how to use their hands since they're rarely given an opportunity. He was the baby that we did surgery on here for club feet, over two years ago. I wish I had his baby picture here, but I left all my old photos in CA. He is stubborn as all get out and when he doesn't get his way he plops himself on the floor and slams the back of his head hard against it.

The child I have been feeding at lunch time is Sherzod. He is quiet and very mellow. His hands are always wrapped in mittens, made from wadded up cloth and tied at the wrist. And we wonder why these kids can't feed themselves? His lunch consisted of broth and bread crumbs and a cup of tea. The spoon I was given to feed him with would be better used as a serving spoon. It was huge!

The workers' general idea of feeding is to spoon it down the kids' throats, so that they don't need to chew. The workers can feed 4 kids in the time it takes me to do one, so the workers aren't very happy with my time consuming method, but I imagine Sherzod is.

As we were leaving, the assistant director asked us to share her lunch and when we declined, she offered tea. We had to stay. Over tea, they chatted all in Uzbek and occasionally would translate into Russian for my sake. What they talked about was fascinating and stretched my ethnocentric understanding.

As Ramadan is about to end, the new brides, ones married since the last Ramadan, have an open house. For 3 days their homes are open to ANYONE and their mothers have a spread for all to enjoy, a kelin hayit. I have not yet seen the "table", but I have been invited to several at the end of Ramadan, so I'll know more by then.

The other type of open house is held at the homes of the deceased. Surprisingly, I have also been invited to one of those as well and been told to wear a head scarf. Not surprisingly, I am more interested to see what happens at this one, rather than the kelin hayit. Regardless, come the end of Ramadan, we will be doing a lot of partying.

Desiree'

10-19-07
Well the rain has finally come and just enough to make the months of accumulated dust from the roof run like muck down the sides of the house and onto the walkways. The mud is inescapable, but the moisture so appreciated. The changes in many of my kids are also as if the layers of neglect have started to melt away. Even though this presents new challenges, we are thankful for their development.

Sherzod (photo attached), one of the few boys in my group, always had mittens tied at his wrists. We were told he was destructive, but once I took his hands out of the mildewed mitts, one could easily see that he lacked any strength to be violent with his velvety hands. This week after some training, he began to feed himself. I am sure, however, that hunger was also a good motivator for him moving his own hand to his own mouth – once there was food in it.

In the past, he had been fed in the big crib. He would tilt his head back, like a new born bird and wait for the giant spoon to drop food in his mouth, never using his own lips to grasp the spoon. I have now started sitting him at the table, after weeks of me feeding him sitting in a stroller and he is doing great! Next week, I plan to bring him a lollipop and hope to see him connect it to his mouth, with plans that soon he’ll be able to hold a spoon.

We have also started bringing in bananas and all the kids love them. The workers do too! I located some soy bean sprouts and hope to be able to add it to the daily mush, so that the kids can get some real protein. The challenge with the soy bean is getting "permission" to give it. The bananas were easily accepted because it’s something the staff wants for themselves and they could rarely afford to buy for themselves. We give it to them and they allow us to give it to the kids.

I have not yet hired the National swim coach for Umida, as she continues to do quite well on her own. She now swims 1,500 meters in 40 minutes. We are going through swim goggles rather quickly, as the quality here is miserable and they easily tear, but still Umida swims without them and exits the pool looking like she’s cried for months on end. She loves it!

We had a local Russian girl visit on Wednesday. She wanted to come to learn more English, so I set it up that Umida could talk with her, since they are both 14 years old. It was funny to hear them talk about music. On one end Umida was bragging about how her grandpa had shared all this cool music with her and on the other, the girl was shocked that Umida had never heard of Britney Spears! The girl remarked as if thoroughly offended, "I don’t know how could you know James Blunt, but never heard of Britney Spears! Incredible!"

Desiree’

11-04-07
The time at the Q is never routine. There’s always more to be discovered, more to learn, more illumination of needs. Last week, the staff started scurrying and some one whispered in Uzbek to another worker, "The guests are coming. The children should be put to bed, so that it is quieter and cleaner in here."

Everyone went into hyperspeed and since we were right in the middle of feeding lunch, the staff literally began shoving food down the kids and telling them to quickly use the toilet (which is actually a plastic shallow bucket- one for each kid). I took my time with the two kids I was helping, but soon realized that if they didn’t finish, the food would be taken from them. So, I too started feeding them faster, fearing added hunger to their already minuscule allowance.

I actually wept; as Sherzod reached for his own spoon and dropped his head down to reach it. I wanted everyone to take note and be filled with the same excitement that I had, but no one was interested. I patted him on the back and leaned in to tell him he was doing great. No one cared. After all, guests were coming – Cultural Lesson #3 Never ask, "Who are the guests?"

After helping put all the kids in their cribs, I washed my hands and noticed a nice new bottle of hand soap had been placed at the sink, where in all the times I have been there I have never seen one (Guests were coming). I said my customary good byes to the staff and added with a smile, "In two weeks Sherzod will be feeding himself." – The staff responded with chortles of skepticism.

The new terminology I learned this week is, "Her/His parents took him home." – Which really means the child died. It left me wondering if the staff really believes that or if that’s just a culturally polite way of saying the parents came and collected the body. Cultural Lesson #4 – Never ask, "What happened to that kid?"

Umida now has a swimming coach and she trains from 8 AM to 11 AM three days a week. Typically, an hour and a half is spent in "gymnastics" and the rest of the time is swimming. Umida has such immense excitement for this and her dedication is amazing. Even despite the inability to lift her arms, after two days of training, she can’t wait to go again. We are both so thankful for this opportunity.

Saturday, while I was at a tennis tournament, a man in gray sweat shorts, with a sweater over his shoulders and a baseball hat came up and in English asked if we were Americans. My German friend responded that she was German, but pointed to me as the American. The man offered a handshake and spoke his name. He asked who I worked for and what I did. I responded. Long story short, the man is the new U.S. Ambassador and he was competing in the amateur tournament, as were we. He was a really nice guy and though he didn’t fair well in the tourney, rumor has it that he is making great improvements at work.

Desiree’

photo

Sherzod, learning to feed himself

11-06-07
Every day that I pay a taxi or buy food or pay rent, my awareness increases that it’s not just me who’s fighting this battle, but all the people who financially and prayerfully support it. Your names and faces are with me daily, especially days that I feel like giving up. Days when it hurts or it’s just too difficult. I am reminded that you keep up the fight and as part of the body, so shall I.

My drive to the Q Orphanage this morning was with another team mate, whom I have not worked with before, as we typically are on different schedules. She mentioned that the reason we are having so much physical difficulty in regards to our own bodies, is because we work with children with disabilities. Now, it used to be that I’d dismiss that person as a far-reaching radical with little grounding in reality, but I have come to see things anew and perhaps a bit radical myself.

Every day I am at the orphanage, I have expectations for my kids, whether it’s holding a spoon, kicking a ball or merely walking. The thing is, is that these are physical actions that I am expecting from crippled bodies and affected brains. Actions that seem "mere" to those who can, but are significant to those who can’t or can’t yet. It’s not easy.

I started reflecting back to that awkward feeling I had when I once would raise my hand to touch my nose and would miss my own face. I praise God for the restoration and the ability to keep going. He continues to use me, though my body and brain may be impeded. It is by His power. He supplies the means for me; physically, spiritually, and financially – just as I know He will for these children.

Now with a new physical issue, my knee, my performance again feels hindered. I am weak. The persistent thought that I am not 100%, pesters my psyche and that spiritual battle begins; the reminder that we are not, of ourselves, ever good enough, the reminder that He uses what others would disregard, the reminder that, through it all, He actually wants an intimate relationship with us and the reminder that pain is part of it all. Pain causes change. It’s not easy.
So, when I start patting myself on the back, for helping a child use a spoon, or learn to walk or kick a ball, let me be reminded that I am just as frail, just as hindered and it is only by the grace of God that I can be where I am doing what I do. It’s not an adventure, it’s a Calling.

Desiree’

And so, there we are. The beginnings of a story that Desiree has pursued as a calling she has responded to, in spite of her own physical ailments.

She is doing a job that most of us would not be capable of doing . . . and she is living from month to month.

You’ll be able to monitor the latest from Uzbekistan every week as we begin publishing Desiree’s Diary every week. There is a great deal of material to share with you. Over seven years of her weekly reports have been saved and, hopefully, will one day be published as a book.

In the meantime, she needs our help.

Some of you may be inclined to answer a similar call and volunteer for service in Uzbekistan. Others may want to help by whipping out your checkbook and writing a check to help this young lady and her ‘kids.’

I’ve checked it out. It is, in fact, a bona fide 501(c)3 organization so any funds you donate are tax deductible.
While you are thinking of it, why not write out a check now?

And be generous. Send it to:

Uzbekistan & Humanity Inc
Box 4224
Mission Viejo, CA 92690-4224

Thank You!

photo

Above, Desiree’ and some of her kids . . below, Orphanage kids at recess

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