Thursday, October 16, 2014

Excursion #2 A trip to Chortiza Island

We planned to visit the museum and fortress on the island in Zaporosia, Maria had checked and they were open until five everyday. However, when we called Tuesday to confirm that they were open they said they were going to be closed... but since Victor was coming with the van it was decided that we could just walk around the area, "enjoying the nature."  Garry, Maria, and I (Teresa) went, along with the father from the boys' group home, Andrey and the seven students (the new Kolya has already left).

Polo came along for the ride- at least it wasn't a trip to the vet, maybe he will like riding in the car better next time.

When we got to the island, we found out we couldn't get near the fort, there were policemen everywhere, even standing about every 20 meters along the woods, facing the road.  We were joking that the president must be there - and it turns out we may have been right, it was the anniversary of the liberation of Zaporosia from the Nazis!

So Victor drove around a bit and we walked down to the river and enjoyed nature there.

Polo, leading the way, was glad to get out of the van

Group photo

Simeon making friends with Polo

Karina and Simeon goofing around

Nastya with Polo

They climbed the rocks

and took photos by (in?) the river

talked to a fisherman

and had some laughs

Saturday, October 11, 2014

More than one Kolya

Yulia and Garry going into the dorm
We once again have two Kolyas at school- Nikolai was also a Kolya because it is the nickname for Nikolai! And our school is in Nikolaipolia, or Nicholas' field, so why not have more than one? We are now at eight students with the arrival of the new Kolya on Monday afternoon. We drove to Kiroy Rog to pick him up at the same dormitory the girls lived in, and Yulia came along to pick up the rest of their stuff that was in storage. The back of the van was very full on the way back, and she was telling him all about the classes and stuff, except when they were busy eating their Royal cheeseburger menus (quarter pounder meals) we got at a McDrive drive-thru on our way out of the city. I had never heard Yulia talk as much as she did from the time she got to the reception at the dorm until we were home.
a full load

Kolya and Yulia saying goodbye to some of the staff there

Kolya and Sasha

Our other Kolya went with Sasha to his hometown Rene for the week and we picked them up at the bus station in Zaporosia at 6:30 this morning. They had a good time but were happy to be back in the village. We are happy that they are back too.

Sasha's foster mom was glad to meet his best friend here and bought them some new clothes and things, and took Kolya to the dentist, too.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Coming and going

Garry and the students playing UNO after pizza
Last night (Friday) we invited the students for pizza to mark the end of the first month of school. We have had an interesting two weeks. Nikolai left, because he decided he could not live with the rules after the second week of school. Garry and Maria reminded him that if he left, he could not return, all the boys begged him to stay, but he decided to go anyway. We cannot make them stay in school, if they really want to leave.  Maria was having a really bad day because the two girls were considering leaving also, but had no place to go back to, so they stayed. Yulia, who had been sick that week,  is doing better in class than  Karina now that she is feeling better. The girls seem to be getting over their fear of cows.

We have a new student since last Thursday, Simeon, who had come out with the Agape organization to see the school. We have had another girl and two guys come this week for overnight visits to see the school (one was here for pizza) some may join us, but the guys both seemed to think it was some kind of job, instead of school, until they arrived. Garry drove into Dnepropetroesk to get them. Sasha had to return home to Reni for some official business, so he left with his friend Kolya, since he was going to take him home for a week visit in two weeks when we have fall break, they left yesterday, and missed out on the pizza and UNO game after.

Simeon sweeping down cobwebs in the barn
Garry and I taught dairy farming and English this past week, the group home parents taught the week before and will have their classes again in the coming week. Some of our students are doing well in classes, but a few are not trying hard enough. Hopefully that will improve in the coming weeks. They are showing up on time for class this week after we started handing out candy at 9 am (and not after 9.)

We had a sex ed class presented by someone (in Russian, all classes except ours are presented by Russian speakers, and Maria translates for Garry) from Zaporosia one morning two weeks ago, and are thinking about having an anti-smoking one, to inform them of the dangers and encourage them to quit. Our students include a couple casual smokers, two real smokers, and the one girl who is thinking of coming wants to quit. We do not require them to quit, just to not smoke in or near the houses, classroom or the barns.

We pray that Nikolai will be alright, he should be able to find work unloading at the markets (which he used to do) and he is in better shape after living here for almost two months, first at our house and then the boys group home, where he had problems adjusting to the rules, like curfews and smoking far from the house. He had been living on the street when he came to us and we had gotten his health checked, bought antibiotics to clear up an infection, paid to have the dentist pull his rotten tooth, took him shopping new clothes from the second hand store and given him one of our suitcases that he had asked for- he then sewed up the tear on it to carry his possessions in a couple weeks ago, and he took it with him.
He had been told he couldn't leave for the weekend after missing the first day of school and keeping with an established pattern of not returning on time every time he went to visit his sister (whom he said was getting married for weeks in a row.)  He would phone Maria and tell her that it was because he had been sad about his mother's death, so he got drunk and spent all his money, (or other excuses, like a death in the family which his brother would not know about) and then he would find a job for the day to get the bus back to the village.
 The next week he came into money, bought one of the other boy's cell phones, and when the group home parents asked where he had gotten all the money... he told several stories which didn't check out or make sense, and so Garry and Maria told him he could only stay if he told the truth about where it came from. An hour later he confessed to taking 900 grivna from our house, so he was told could stay but had to work to pay it back, and one week later he left (after working a few extra hours guarding after school until 7 pm at the new barn.) He said he was planning to stay with the family of "his girlfriend" that he said was 12 (one night that week he was wearing a female shirt which he said was hers out), he is 19. So we are thinking that he may have had more problems than we could help him with here, but hope he lands on his feet. Maria got a phone call saying he was starting a job soon, after one asking if he could come back.  His older brother, Valara, is still here at the school and a really bright student who wants to get perfect marks on every test (and we thought he would be a problem.)