The wheat has turned golden and is being harvested today. It's hard to believe when we first arrived in the Donetsk region that the wheat was still green and growing. This is our last day and we are leaving this area. We are currently on the shake and back and we are baking! We are in third class and swimming in sweat. Everyone has wet clothing, dripping foreheads and wet hair. It is a heat you cant escape and the vinyl seats don't help. It's suffocating and Jeremiah and I have tried to find patches of coolness by standing in between the train cars. The day was close to 90 and this train car has one window in each compartment which cracks open a mere 4 inches. Jeremiah and I have become Ukrainian and our shirts came off. Monique wanted to do the same but we felt it might not be the best idea. We have gotten used to the day to day struggles of Ukraine life and try to take this 11 hour train ride in stride.
This week started out with the hope we could leave on Tuesday but its Thursday now, so much for hope! Everyday was filled with necessary things to do that always took longer than expected. There was just nothing you could do about it but try and keep your patience. My patience though, has been wearing thin. I have gotten to the point that I just can't stand it anymore. So even though it is hot as hell in this train, I am so glad to be doing something different and that feels like progress!
Yesterday started like any other day but this time we were going to visit some family members of our new kids and visit their homes and areas they grew up in and ending with a stop at their parents grave site. For those who have been here they don't need any description of those stuck living in poverty but as the day wore on it became clearer to us. We now have pictures of Daniel playing in his small yard as a baby with no clothes, playing in the dirt with the dogs. We stopped at their old house and very little remains of it now as thieves have taken what was of any value. What remains show very little comfort and a very harsh way of life. Both parents passed away due to TB related complications . Which is a poverty related disease and usually a curable disease if treated. Many die because of a lack of knowledge, money and basic care. Visiting their uncle and seeing their grandparents house left me with feelings hard to describe. It was as if the horror of it all permeated my whole being. It was a feeling that you needed to take a shower to attempt to clean it off but no shower could wash it away. It took thirty days of living here to get the full impact of life in Ukraine. The former socialist communist past has left this country in so many different levels of devastation. We have spent most of our times in big cities that have every level of success and poverty but you can see progress and beauty slowly taking hold in these areas. Yesterday allowed me inside of what lies outside the progress. It was filled with deplorable and overwhelming lack. Whats amazing to me is people who have had so little for so long because of their history, that I believe a lot of them don't even realize their living in such lack and need. Because of this, the sad reality is the children suffer, parents die early, alcoholism runs rampant, desperate girls wanting out of this life, willingly and unwillingly end up in the sex trade and young boys end up in crime. It is vicious cycle with very little hope of change without a people and a society that is willing to open their eyes and make a difference. Small or great, it is all necessary if we are to start reversing poverty in our world. It doesn't take much to start the change.
Our day ended with a trip to their mother and grandmothers cemetery. Tall grass,weeds and tombstones covered the hill overlooking ancient factories, old towns and sprawling countryside. The sky was blue and the air was still. Slowly driving up the dry rutted dirt road we stopped at the site. Two hand made orthodox crosses marked the overgrown plots. Their family names painted and nailed to their crosses marked mamma and grandmas tombs. For a moment we all stood in silence and then walked a short distance away to allow Daniel and Lydia time alone. Ten to 15 minutes passed as they silently dealt with grief and then Daniel fell to the ground and wept with Lydia crying behind him. It was a moment that left us all in tears as we watched two kids whose lives had been turned upside down by the loss of their families grieve. The trip home was quite as their grief continued. Somewhere along the way it was done and they became little kids again.
Jeremiah had been left at home because he couldn't fit into the taxi and I believe in part he also wanted to have a day by himself. But the day had lasted a lot longer than expected and he was getting tired of his house arrest. We still needed train tickets and it required an hour and half wait in line. It was deemed best for me to take kids home and Nadia and Monique would stay in line to buy tickets. I didn't argue. The taxi took kids and I home and as fast as we could we all high tailed it to McDonalds and the park! Neither of them have ever been in a McDonalds nor ever been to a big city so this was a huge moment. Jeremiah is now used to lines here and with me close behind, he shoved his way to the front of the line and found an open teller ( he is adapting to Ukrainian methods). We ordered 3 Big and tasty meals, large fries and coca cola! I don't think they even new what a burger was, let alone know how to pick one up and eat it! Fries were easy and they loved them. Burger was something new. Daniel followed my lead and took his half and started in, Lydia on the other hand, would not even try it. I told her I wanted her to try one bite and that was all she needed to eat before she could have her coke. Frankly, Jeremiah and I wanted whatever was left over! She finally gave in and ate a bite. Next time I looked, her burger was gone and she was happily eating fries. McDonalds was a hit and not a fry was left uneaten. Off to the park we went and with a little education about family stays close, look both ways and hold hands while crossing street, we made it to park. The rest was more fun and with us all exhausted, they quickly fell asleep at home.
Its now 11 at night and the train has finally become bearable. Train lights are on low and everyone is sleeping to the rocking clickity clack of the shake and bake.....
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Vision for the Children International (VFTCI) is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to bringing hope to at risk children and their families. It is our belief that children need to have a vision for their futures. This cannot be fully accomplished without also providing hope and a future to parents, families and the communities they live in. Without this vital aspect of hope, a child, parent, family and community cannot begin to see past their present circumstances to be able to pursue a better future. At VFTCI, we deliver ministry through a combination of indigenous local support, community, Christian leaders, government officials, US and International supporters and volunteers. VFTCI believes in putting faith to action as expressed in Mathew 25:31-40. For many, it is impossible to see a future without first helping them through their current needs and circumstances. Vision for the Children International is focused on preventative action. We are dedicated to breaking the cycles that a hopeless environment creates by providing opportunities for the creation of healthy families, education systems and communities. To Learn more visit: www.VFTCI.org