One of those days where I just have to keep in mind, "Things happen. That's what it's like here. Stuff doesn't go as planned... Don't have a cow..." The day started with a dance party and transportation frustration and ended with beer, Bailey's and vodka.
Morning at Kamilia's: I showered and got ready for the day. We had checked the train website and decided I should take a train at 11:20 to Vinnytsia. I was headed there to meet Matt and visit the two families I've donated money to. Zhora and Kamilia put on a little dance party and we had oatmeal for breakfast. Trying to find the healthier options when possible, to supplement all the pizza and beer I've been eating and drinking. ;) Her husband Dima suggested that I not take a train; the mashrutka (small bus) stops right outside. Why shouldn't I take that? It will be almost as fast. I bowed to his judgment and we went to meet the bus at about 11:15 a.m. Kamilia came out to wait with me. We waited. And waited. And waited. Kamilia and I found lots to talk about. I showed her examples of graphic design because I told her my sister is a designer and she wasn't sure what that was. So I pointed out signs on the street and said that technically that circus poster was graphic design... but not the best example. We kept looking for the bus and checking the time. It got to be 12:20, which is when I was starting to exhibit my frustration. If I had taken the train, I would have been in Vinnytsia already. She finally called her Dima and asked him to check on what trains would be leaving the train station soon because a bus hadn't come yet. It was possible we had missed it? He checked and said that two trains were leaving right then - oh good - and there were others at 2 and 3 p.m. I sat down and groaned to myself. The day was half over and I was still in Koziatyn! Kamilia appreciated the time, though, because it was the last time she'd be seeing me. And then at last a mashrutka to Vinnytsia showed up and I was on my way at about 12:30.
I had sent Matt several text messages with no response so I finally called him. Turned out his phone had died so he had gone to meet me at noon when I said I'd be arriving, never found me, went back downtown and bought a new phone. He communicated with Anya on skype and learned that I was late. I got to Vinnytsia, bought a ticket to Kiev for that night and took another bus downtown to meet Matt at our old haunt, McDonald's. Not that we ate there. I dropped my bags off at the Bethany Social Services office where he works and I met Vita there. Matt, Vita and another social worker in the office there help low-income families and underprivileged children. Vita was to take me to two families. She speaks only a little English so I communicated with her in my so-so Ukrainian.
Havrilovy Family: I met this family last year when I made a video about the kinds of families and needs that B.S.S. helps. Their house was a dilapidated old place in the process of being expanded and repaired and five children and two parents lived there. The father had cancer and passed away a month ago. I hadn't known this until the day before, that he had passed. I met him last year and he talked about the family's struggle to finish the house before he died. I wanted to see the family again and see how they were doing. All the children were at home this time and the mother showed us the house. They have new walls up and a much bigger kitchen. The bricks are without drywall still, and the place was very basic and still in the process of being fixed. But a lot more had been done to it since last year. At home, I raised $1,000 to help them with repairs. Three of the children attended Matt and Anya's camp last year, and they were eager to show me the various crafts and bracelets they had made there. They have had so much joy and fun working with Bethany and I can see how amazing the program is and how they help. I hope to help at the camp in future years.
Maria and Dima: Vita and I also went to meet Maria. In December, I started sponsoring her, her son and husband by sending $20-$40 a month to help with their needs. Their house had burned down so they were living in a shed on an old woman's property in exchange for Maria helping to care for the old woman. The shed smelled awful and they all had health problems because of the conditions, especially the son, Dima. The old woman passed away recently and she had promised that when this happened, her daughter would buy them a room at a dormitory-like building. The daughter did as promised when the woman died, and the family recently moved into a small room at a dormitory. They now out of the weather and have purchased Dima an actual bed with some of the sponsored money I and other donors have sent. He used to sleep on a mattress on the floor in the shed. The room is clean and bright and Maria is so grateful to Bethany. She thanked me profusely and was so excited to meet me. I have seen pictures of them and Anya and Vita send me occasional updates about the family. I also write Maria and Dima letters. She has even prayed for me at church, Vita said. Dima was in the hospital for a few days so I didn't get to see him.
Dinner: At 5 p.m. we returned to the Bethany office and Matt and I went to go get pizza and beer. (Because this is my diet, here). We went to an old favorite place and caught up. He's taking a new job and will be moving to Kiev soon. Since Peace Corps over a year and a half ago, he's been living on the readjustment allowance we got after PC, and money he had saved. He works as a volunteer for Bethany. Dollars go farther in Ukraine than America but still, it's getting low. So he found a job and will be making sure foreign documents are correctly written in English. He will still do some work for Bethany.