||March 13th, 2008|
This is one of an occasional series of columns from Desiree,
serving an orphanage in the Republic of Uzbekistan, (formerly part of the USSR).
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. Although, when I mentioned that our electric stove does not work my landlord said another specialist would be by to repair it. And with that, I mentioned that the front door no longer locks and she promised to send someone for that as well. Urgency is not a cultural motivator.
Two new babies have arrived at the Quibray; both under two 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.
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 four 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 three 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.
sponsored by Uzbekistan and Humanity, Inc
(in partnership with People International - www.GoPeople.org)
All contributions can be sent to:
Uzbekistan & Humanity Inc
Mission Viejo, CA 92690-4224