||June 12th, 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).
I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to 100 degrees at 10 o’clock at night. It’s bad enough during the day, but when cooling off means 100 at bed time, I’m inclined not to sleep. The one air-conditioning unit is situated in the main living room, so I am tempted to start sleeping on the floor in there, if it weren’t for the power outages being my deterrent. Frozen plastic water bottles (as long as we have power) have been used to cool my bed. However, as the sweat starts to pool, I am startled awake by the sensation; fearing that I have had an accident.
The Q (orphanage)is still queuing up for their big event and they are trying, desperately, to make the place prime for inspection. They realized that they were in need of a portrait of the president (a mandatory requirement in government buildings), so they gave me the task since I live in the city. It took me three days to find one at a reasonable price. The first place wanted $80.00 for a poster of him that was framed in plastic. Another place wanted $65.00 for a smaller one. As I jumped from shop to shop, I suddenly realized what a great law it was. They could charge all they wanted for his picture, and we would have to pay. Then I got a brilliant idea and decided that I would go to the Mayor’s office and ask for one for free. After counsel by some locals, I ended up not going, which may very well be another reason I have not yet been deported. I did though find a poster for $8.00 and paid it knowing I had supported the leader, the best I could.
Today in the classroom at the Q, as I waited impatiently, I picked up a small plush, toy monkey that is similar to a slingshot in that you put its hands over your two fingers and pull on its tail and then release it. It flies throw the air howling. I aimed it across the room, but had not yet fired it, and the director screamed excitedly, “Don’t shoot in the direction of the president. You can’t aim it at him. That’s forbidden.” (They had already put him up on the wall).
So, I adjusted my direction and aimed for the back side of a worker, at this the director actually applauded. This was much more acceptable behavior. How fitting.
My informants tell me that indeed one of my kids has died. The others seem to have really gone back to their parents. The losses are hard and I question my work here daily. Just today, another mom wept painfully as she stood in the drop-off room. The intake people were not comforting her and I can’t imagine what could be even said to offer comfort. The kids keep coming.
On a high note, one my kids who doesn’t speak actually said “Chai”, which is the word for tea here. Honestly, I think it was her desperation for hydration that caused her to speak, but I celebrated her vocalization and made sure she got something to drink. The next day, to my utter shock, she said the word for apple and then smiled. I fed her an entire apple and she smiled after every bite. How about her portrait up on the wall?
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