I will be spending the rest of my time abroad volunteering at The Way Home in Odessa, Ukraine. It is a non-profit organization that's aim is to provide complex medical help, psychological support and social adaptation to homeless adults, street children and drug users. I decided long ago that part of my trip should be devoted to doing some good in the world. I read a very moving book called Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, and it really inspired me to look into volunteer work in a Russian-speaking country after my Trans-Siberian Journey. I found this organization at Idealist.org and got in touch with one of the volunteers there. I have successfully navigated my way around the world and am back in Odessa, ready for the last chapter of my trip. These posts will be devoted to my organization, my experiences with them there, and whatever else I find entertaining here in Ukraine.
Вторник был мой первый день на работе как волонтер в Одессе. Я была, опаздывала, потому что я погуляла по улицу, что я не хорошо знаю, и я заблудилась. Это было неудобно! Мне не нравится быть опаздывала. Девушки с кем я буду работать очень симпатичные. Дети тоже классные! Я рада познакомилась с ними.
Tuesday was my first day working as a volunteer in Odessa, Ukraine. I was late to my meeting, because I walked down a street that I was not familiar with and got lost. It was so awkward! I hate being late to meetings or classes. The women who work there are extremely nice. The kids are cool too! I am happy to have met them.
Они хотели знать, где я училась, работала, и так далее, по русский конечно! Я говорила, и думаю, что здесь много что я могу делать. Я уже работала с детей, делала театр и танцевала, и работала в медицинском офисе.
They wanted to know where I studied, where I worked, what experiences I had in the past, and so on; and of course they wanted to know all this information in Russian! I spoke to them and I think there will be a lot of different areas that I will be of help. I have a lot of experience with children having worked as an activities coordinator for my vacation bible school, I did theatre and choreographed swing so I can help them in their performance department, and I worked at medical offices so I can help in the clinics.
There is so much I can do to help this organization, I just need to find my place. My first assigned duty was to go on Social Patrol. This is where you drive around the city and look for the homeless people; we offer them food, medical attention and even a place to stay if they are interested in joining our program. Dasha, the coordinator, scared me because she told me to tie my hair back since so many homeless people have lice; she also warned me not to kiss anyone while on patrol (was this actually a problem in the past I wanted to know??) because so many of them are HIV positive in Ukraine (for the record I know HIV is not transmitted via saliva, this is just what she told me). Not only did she advise me to become emotionally prepared, but my coordinator told me to wear clothes that are appropriate for the occasion. This is how she put it:
Dasha: "Erica, be sure to wear clothes that you do not mind... how do you say..."
Erica: "Get dirty?"
Dasha: "No, more like... to get..."
Erica: "I will go shopping for some new used clothes today then!"
I am so glad I was motivated to search for a second hand store, for what I found was the mother load of all thrift stores. You thought thrift stores in the US were filled with treasures, but look at this! I found my new outfit and will definitely make a trip back to look for Burning Man clothes.
|Shoes, coats, pants, and fur items as far as the eye can see!|