Saturday, September 20, 2014

Work study

Two weeks into our trade school program, and what have we done? We now have four boys and three girls, each with their own personalities and challenges in life and learning. All are wonderful people to get to know and teach.

 Garry and I (and Maria, his translator/assistant) taught the first two weeks of school, Monday to Thursday from 9- 12:30, with a couple of tea/smoke breaks (we have 3 smokers, I think). Honestly, it was mostly Garry teaching about cows, with 45 minute English lessons each day by me. Next week the group home parents will teach Math, Ukrainian language, Christian Ethics and computer use, the plan is that from now on the classes will alternate weekly, until December.

Kolya and Sasha have bikes to ride to work and class

Feeding calves- Valara
 Monday and Wednesday afternoons, and all day Friday (for those students not doing medical checkups, getting passports or registering with the government, all of which we are trying to do on non-class days) are farm work experience, right now that is mostly simple supervised tasks to get used to working with cows. Each student is "helping" the ladies with three milkings a week, (the cows are milked three times a day) doing things like dipping teats, brushing cows, and feeding calves milk. For this work they are paid slightly more than they are paying for room and board, so they have some money for spending at the store, however, it looks like Garry will need to pay them more when the winter utility bills need to be paid. They have the option of doing extra paid work on the weekends if they want, some students visit friends and family by bus, as long as they are back for school !
Garry showing Nicholai and Karina how to currycomb cows

They also have to help with household chores, like cooking and cleaning at the group homes, so they will have the skills to take care of themselves and maybe a family in the future. However, it is not all work. We had our first excursion this week, as you saw in an earlier post, and Garry is taking some (maybe all) of them into Zaporosia for a youth outreach event on Saturday night.

There is a ping pong (table tennis) table going into the boys house, and they seem to be a happy group over there.  There may be a few more students yet, we have more visitors coming out on Saturday afternoon to see the school.

The giant box of boys clothing that came form Reni-
thanks to Sasha's foster family who send it to share

Some of the smaller clothing we dropped off for the pastor at the
 village church to give away to the needy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Excursion with the students

Here are a few of our students having fun this week, we plan to have monthly excursions and the group home parents suggested this place in Zaporosia. The guys had a great time, doing both the second and third tier, while Nastya, the group home parents and I watched, yelled encouragement and took photos.
Kolya, Sasha, Valara and Nikolai get through safety instructions before starting

Nicholai reaching a platform between sections

That is Valara in the red shirt up there on level two (they did level three too)
Kolya smiles down at us

The starting point, Nastya is in the pink sweater

Next time we will have to pick a girl friendly activity
Nastya stayed on the ground, the other girls are away for the day
Sasha (in black) and Valara (in red shirt) are smiling up there

Sasha walks a tightrope

The three boys who finished level three can be seen in this photo

doing the splits 

You can see all three levels here (the kids do level one)

Garry decided to do it when the boys were on level two
Garry was going to watch, but when the boys were halfway through level two, he got outfitted, instructed and off he went. It creaked as he went onto the platforms,(and he had to duck a lot) glad I didn't go!

We had brought some candy, juice boxes and cookies so everyone was happy.
across the pond on the zipline

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This week at the trade school

 This is the first week of classes for the trade school. We are planning to study in two week modules with classes in the mornings Monday through Thursday, from 9 am to 12:30.

 Right now Garry is teaching Cattle Reproduction and Judging, with a beginning English class by me sandwiched in around 10:15 to 11 am. On Fridays they will be working over at the new barn, or this one. The students are also scheduled individually for some work experience in the barn with the cows, brushing them and so on, during the week. Students who would like to earn extra money have the opportunity to guard over at the barn on the weekends during the day.

The two girls who came to visit Monday evening through Tuesday afternoon attended class and we have heard that the smaller one is very excited about coming, if her friend agrees, Her friend is worried that she will have to quit smoking if she comes, but it is not a requirement of our program. It might be wonderful if they did, but several of our last class smoked (one quit) and a couple of the boys do this time. We do ask that they go out to the street to smoke.

Smoking cigarettes is very common among Ukrainians of all generations, although last year an indoor smoking ban was enacted and most people keep to it, we never sit out on restaurant patios because there is smoking there.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Day one... not quite as planned

Reviewing the parts on a real cow
Day one of class two of the trade school did not go quite as planned... the two students who were gone for the weekend did not come back to the village today.
 It seems Tolik will not come back after visiting his sick grandmother, and Nikolai did not make it back until Monday night. He seems to spend all his money when he goes away, so he has problems getting back, hopefully he learns to make better decisions this year.

 However, the day was a success for the four students who did come!
and in the classroom

Group home parents and students in the classroom

Nastya was late, but the boys showed up right at 9 am for class. They worked on learning all the parts of a cow today. Garry's first module is cattle judging, and tomorrow I will start a short English class mid- morning. They also worked on setting the work schedule for this week,

At left we have everyone who came today for lunch, From Left closest to camera, Suisa (Luba's daughter who may help teach) Luba, girls group home mom, Iera, guys home mom, Nastya, student, Maria Garry's translator/assistant. far right of table: Garry, Kolya, Sasha and Valara, students, and Andrey, guy's home dad.
Kolya really liked the oliveya salad, he had thirds
Anybody hungry?
At 12:30, the end of classes, the foster parents came to help us celebrate the first day of school with a special lunch I made. Afterwards the students had a short time of work experience in the barn with Garry to learn what they were going to do there.
Looking at Nastya's schedule

The boy's showing Andrey their schedules 

Late this afternoon, we picked up the two orphan girls from Kirvoy Rog at the bus station in Dnepropetroesk and after buying some Mc Donalds from the drive-thru for them, we drove back to the village and left them at the girls house overnight.

Tomorrow they will join us for class and then we'll find out if they will be joining our school, so maybe we will have more than six students this week.

Tuesday morning the girls in class (Maria, standing is translating for Garry)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Pizza party

Classes will start on Monday morning, with a celebration lunch afterwards, but we invited everyone living at both group homes to join us for homemade pizza Friday night.

Kolya offering Sasha more nuts
  A couple of the guys were gone for the weekend, but we had a fun time eating pizza, playing a little UNO and watching the students attempt to outdo each other eating the super hot ghost pepper peanuts Garry got for Christmas one year.

Apparently Sasha is a feeling sick this morning, but he did not eat pizza, he was eating five or ten ghost nuts in the photo trying to catch up to Valara, who ate the most (and then was sucking on ice cubes to cool his mouth off.)
Valara eating more hot nuts (Andrey smiling behind him started the game)

Valara sucking on ice cubes

A wild game of Ukrainian style Uno was played before they walked home

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sasha's story

We went across Ukraine to pick up Sasha, so I'll tell you a little about him, He was born in Moldova and has a sister and brother who live in the same foster home that is run by a Swedish lady. They have lived there for seven years, their mother passed away, and their father was deported to Moldova when he lost his Ukrainian documents. Sasha finished school this year, and sold his motorbike because he wanted to buy a cow to milk, with his half-brother's help-  he also has an older half brother, who is married with a baby. No one knew what to do with this plan of his at the foster home, and then Maria phoned about our school, the lady running it thought it must be a joke at first, since they had been talking about the idea of him getting a cow. Maria has been contacting as many Christian organizations working with orphans in Ukraine,as possible this summer to tell them about our school.
Sasha with a couple of the other kids

So they decided to come check us out he came here with a few of the older kids and the foster home driver for 15 hours to see our school two weeks ago and applied to become a student and learn about cows.

We drove to Rene on the banks of the Danube river to get Sasha last weekend (Romania is across the river and Moldova is a stone's throw from the town) and he has moved into the boys house.   We enjoyed visiting the foster home for two days, and seeing how it operates. There are 17 kids living there, including a baby and a half dozen boys and one girl that seem to be about 4 years old! Garry had so much fun playing and eating with them that I think he was ready to fill a house with little kids when we left.