Preevit! (Hi!) everyone! How are you? I realize that it is 5:30 am for the East Coasters...so, i can only imagine that you are all doing well since you are probably asleep! ;0
So, I had a few people ask me some questions that I wanted to answer and then there were some things that I wanted to throw out there myself. ** Do most people here speak English?***
Well, for the most part I would have to say "No". If you are in a hotel, then the Front Desk/Concierge will be able to speak some English. If you are in a large city like I am or St. Petersburg or possibly where Elle
is..then, you might find more people. One of the translators here said to that typically the younger people will be able to speak some English. That they are learning it in school. Typically, the older people do not. Now...that is typically. At the orphanage...no one knows how to speak English. That has been our case. **What are the Orphanages really like?**
I can only speak for the one where Nikolai is. When you walk through the door, it is really dark. Most of the lights are cut off throughout the orphanage. I was told that it was because of energy conservation. That is how it has been our Host families. If you don't need a light, you keep the lights off. The care givers have all been exceptional. They get paid very very little. But, yet they work so hard. The care givers in Nikolai's group and the group next to him are constantly moving, cleaning, taking care of the children. I noticed that the Caregivers are also responsible for the grounds outside. Last weekend, one would stay inside while the children were sleeping, and the other would be outside cleaning the outside ground area. So, each group had a person doing that. **Are the Orphanages Clean?**
Again, I can only speak for our childs. So, when I answer these questions...I can only speak to what I know. Our orphanage is very clean. We were quite surprised at how well it was taken care of. Considering the fact that orphanages get very little money, they have done a lot with it. Every toy has its place, the floors are clean, the surface areas are clean, the cribs are clean, the play area. They seem to be very concious of making sure everything is "just so". **What about Maintenance Wise?**
Yes, they are constantly keeping up with the maintenance at the orphanage. Not only do the caregivers work outside (primarily on weekends), so does the security guard and they have maintenance workers. They have been painting the stairwells as of late.** How many children in a room?**
In N's room, there are 6 children. I think the room next to him is about the same or less. **Are the rooms well staffed?**
For the most part, there has only been on care giver in his room. She is constantly working. The crib room is connected to their play area. When the children are awake from their nap, she dresses one at a time and then takes them to give them their afternoon snack. The rooms are all right there so she can hear everything. Then, she will put them in their play pen area with toys and go and get the next child. Sometimes, like on the weekends, there are two to a room.
**Are the children generally in good health?**
They are very concerned about keeping them healthy. Most of the kids seem to run some sort of cold at any given time. But, having been in childcare myself that is the nature of children being together in close quarters. One gets something and passes it on to someone else. They DO NOT like for them to be outdoors long. Especially in the cold. They believe that the draft (of air) will get in their lungs and get them sick. I got scolded (not really, but, talked to by my host family) about keeping Nikolai out too long. They do everything they can to keep them well. If one child does get sick sick...then, they have to go to the hospital. They cannot risk any of the children getting too ill in the orphanage. Like I said, our care givers have been fantastic. They are constantly making sure if they have a cold that they monitor them, and they have done such a great job with Nikolai. All of them act like each one of those children are their own.
**Any recommendations on gifts?**
We gave our caregivers their gifts after our court and it was finalized. We were told my our Translator/Host here that a lot of the women love Clinique. He said that "no no" on the Bath sets. Either they get too many of those or it is seen as something that has no thought put into it. What I did was I found on "ebay" the clinique bags that come with the makeup sets in them. They were great. Because, typically you can find them in Lots. 10-12 at a time. Depending on time of year, if it is really cold...then a scarf, or sweater. And then of course, the higher the rank..the different the gift. (ex: the Director, the Orphanage doctor, etc.) The best thing to do is ask your translator that has been going with you to the orphanage on your first trip what they think they would want. Most of time, they will tell you. We never would have known that one person really wanted Centrum vitamins. We went to a Sam's Club and bought a years supply. Best advice is ask.
**Did I know any Russian before I came and what words should we know?"
I knew very little. The only reason that I knew any was because we hosted a little girl from Ukraine for the Christmas holidays and she spoke Russian. Here is a really good site to get you started ...MasterRussian....
For me.. it started out as the basic words. 'Hi, goodbye, thank you, your welcome" 4 words. That was about it. Now, I can understand some of what they are saying, but, not really speak it very well. I know that "das vi dah niya"
is the formal word for "good bye
"....but, once you get to know someone well..then you can say 'pakah'
. That is the informal word for "bye". I know at the Baby home... the care givers would always wave Nikolai's hand and say "pakah, pakah". It took me a minute to figure out what she was saying. Also, it is not "peek a booh" here. It is "coo coo" Same thing, different words. My vocabulary has grown somewhat. The best advice if you are going to be here for a while is to learn a little bit of the Cyrillic alphabet. For me, it helps for the street signs, and it helps on the Metro. A word here that starts with a "C" is really an "S" for us. So, you can see how it could get confusing.
Anyway, I am sure there are more questions. Please keep them coming. I would love to answer anything!.