May 3rd 2007

Just another day in Arkalyk

This was the first time ever I had a twinge of being frightened in this country. We walked out of our building and standing outside were about 15 men right outside of the door, one in Army fatigues. There is usually no one outside when we leave. There were about 6 vehicles parked behind them. (usually there’s never cars either). We looked at them and just put on our “stern” Soviet faces and kept walking. Later that day, Habiba told us that an old women upstairs from us died and they were there to pay respects to her. The wake will be in the flat upstairs then from what Habiba told us before, they will wrap her in a new carpet and in Habiba’s own words “they will carry her into the street and bury her in a special place” (I hope she means a cemetery).

On to the baby house, we got there and the kids were playing outside with chalk. Bill had a lot of fun with them drawing trucks and outlines of their bodies, at one point he had most of them lying down on the ground with their feet and hands out, ready to be traced.
Almira, I don't care what your mother says, REAL men keep their hair in the back!
After our visit we walked to the Arkalyk museum, yes, museum! It surprised me, it’s like a very small scale of our Field museum, we saw all of the old relics, pictures and settings really interesting. A women followed us all around explaining every exhibit in Russian, we kept telling we didn’t speak the language but she wouldn’t stop I felt bad she was just wasting her time. We took a lot of pictures so the girls can have a taste of their history and heritage.
Our second visit with Almira as always, was a lot of fun. We were joined again by the caregiver’s adopted daughter (who sneaks off with one of Almira’s toys each time, not very inconspicuously either. (She keeps us laughing so hard)

“Nur-trit-cee” (heck if I know for sure, these names are so difficult) is the little one we can’t shake off. We actually asked if she could join us in the music room. She insisted on sucking on all the markers and chewing the crayons but she enjoyed herself. I am a little afraid of seeing her tomorrow, I hope it’s not damaging to her to become so close to us?

There is one little boy that, no matter how many times Bill corrects him, he repeatedly calls him “momma”! Bill says “Poppa, nyet, Momma” back to no avail. He says tomorrow he is gonna wear a scarf on his head and see if he is then called “babushka” (grandma).

So far court is still set for Monday. The judge is working on getting a release signed (oh yah, they found the mother, like I said, all last minute stuff) she is supposedly married with a baby. So far they don’t see any problems, but this is Kazakhstan.

Paka

Marie
Yes, another self portrait

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AMLP Productions 2005-2007
Wow, close call on having to come back for number three! This precious little girl (who looks and acts just like Gianna did) just keeps clinging to us as soon as we pick her up it’s as if she’s a rag doll. Her body goes limp and she hugs me so tight. I have held many babies in my life but there is nothing like the feeling of a child pressing their self so close to your body to feel some comfort, it breaks your heart. Bill looked at me and said, if anyone needs rescuing it’s her and he’s not going to sleep well after this worrying about her. Later that day the caregiver, with hand gestures, (no one working at the baby house speaks a word of English) that momma and poppa are coming. We need to confirm that with Habiba if not, we need to work very hard to find her a family!