Flashback from the past

Раз уж я написала здесь про Снежану, и в свете недавних событий, когда от нас ушла 2ая домработница, прихватив еще и ключи (из серии она ушла и с ней ушли...), В ностальгии по московским временам, я решила увековечить еще и Машку... Жаль, фото Машки у меня не сохранилось...
Flashback from the past:
'Я просто не могла это не написать...На самом деле Ее зовут Марина, но мне она представилась не иначе, как Машка. Так и осталась Мариной - Машкой...Нашей домработницей....
Надо признать, что убирается, готовит, стирает и гладит она далеко не плохо в соотношении цена-качество...Но вопрос в том, КАК она нам это преподносит....
Но начнем с того, что у нас с ней ведется Роман в письмах...то есть она мне, я ей торжественно раз в неделю пишем 2х-страничные письма. Я ей  - что надо сделать. Она мне - в основном, почему этого сделать нельзя и, скорее,  послания с ее стороны смахивают на книгу жалоб и предложений...которые мы неизменно принимаем к сведению и нередко выполняем...из той темы что легче сделать, чем объяснить, почему этого делать не надо...мне иногда кажется, что в ее лице пропал один из великих менеджеров ИБМ или другой иностранной конторы, которой близки понятия видения, separation of duties, mission and just get the things DONE...
Первый раз она убиралась 3 дня по ее собственной инициативе (мы были в отъезде и не могли остановить вовремя ее энтузиазм).  По приезду я не могла найти в собственной квартире ЧАЙ, сахар и пакет с моим чистым нижним бельем.  Халат почему-то регулярно оказывался в грязном, хотя был постиран 2 раза лично мной.  Я так и вижу ее разгуливающей со своими тряпками (тряпки она приносит свои – из разряда «все свое ношу с собой») и вопрощающей «о, засранцы...ну, засранцы....»
вот только некоторые выдержки из ее писем:
"Лена, здравствуйте.
1) хлеб я выбросила  - он черствый (ничего, что я люблю сухарики)
2) кот-хулиган (Торт ее и ее пылесоса боится до смерти и прячется в шкаф поджав уши) - кстати про пылесос
3) пылесос - когда я его включила, из него посыпались какие-то листья. Ужас! и вообще - я не слышала хороших отзывов об этой пылесосной фирме (ничего, что он стоит 30 штук и никто пока не жаловался. Просто Машка забыла его вытряхнуть или не знала как это сделать)
4) Залейте в утюг ВОДУ! (это она мне писала раза два - тоже видимо сакральное знание, доступное только рядовым сотрудникам ИБМ, а не намечающимся менеджерам в ее лице)
5) Котлеты я спрятала ЗДЕСЬ (написано на стикере и приклеено на тарелку) от кота. ОНИ ВОРУЮТ. (наш Торт ни то, что не ворует, никогда даже со стола не просит,  а ест только отведенный ему Ямс)
Машка»
Из последнего:
«Лена,
ЧТО ЭТО?? Я при Вас засовывала одеяло в машинку на легкую стирку. Что из него вышло? Даже рисунка НЕ ВИДНО. Но я уверена, если бы вы сдали его в химчистку, случилось бы ТО ЖЕ САМОЕ.
Купить:
1)       4 рулона туалетной бумаги - СРОЧНО!!!(она наверное думает что 2 оставшихся не хватит даже на неделю, пока ее нет)
2)       СИФ – в Дикси 50рублей (у нее любой коммуникейшн со мной идет с указанием средства, его стоимости и где его можно купить подешевле. Например, 2 Мистер мускул по цене одного в Метро-Стар рядом с ее домом. Я честно говоря не знаю, нужен ли нам всего даже один Мистер)
3)       Мусорные пакеты «майками» (это на ее языке пакеты со шнуровкой на конце)
4)       Итд...(следует список того, без чего мы не проживем или останемся на всю жизнь непосвященными)
П.С. за одеяло я НЕ ВИНОВАТА.
Машка»
Придя сегодня утром и разбудив весь дом (она решила начать сегодня пораньше), мне пришлось 20 минут стоять босиком на кухне  и натягивать рубашку, пока она ее гладила новым чудо-утюгом с отпаривателем, который она притащила с собой, устав по-видиму бороться с моей невнимательностью к ее просьбам залить туда воду  (ее комментарии по ходу дела :»заграницей 500долларов, 2500руб здесь, если вы купите себе второй, то вешалка достанется мне бесплатно и тебе не придется ее держать на весу»). И потом, о чудо, одеяло, похороненное ей на балконе неделю назад, надо было просто вывернуть, чтобы увидеть рисунок...все это сопровождалось словами :» ну надо же, ну Кулигин , ну Кулигины « (имелся  в виду персонаж Островского, чтобы показать высокоинтеллектуальный уровень Машки)
Не забыла она и позвонить мне на работу, чтобы во время встречи прокричать мне в трубку, что «поджопные розовые штуки вклеточку я постирала и не забудь расправить их пока мокрые, чтобы не гладить. Все, ЦЕЛУЮ»....я даже не успела  ей сказать – И Я ВАС....как трубка была уже брошена....
Продолжение следует....
Ну, и продолжение не заставило себя ждать:
"Лена!!
1) Две черные ковты ДИКО линяют. Я как ЧУВСТВОВАЛА, стирала вручную. Не стирайте их ни с чем и желательно НЕ ОДЕВАЙТЕ (тут я напряглась, ибо ковты одни из любимых и не одевать я их не могу) ...на светлые рубашки...
2) я съела сырок плавленый, т.к.забыла еду принести (Приятного аппетита Вам, Машка....и спасибо за честность, а то бы я через полгода это обнаружила)
3) Одну подушку расправила, другую взяла домой. ПРАВИТЬ.
4) отключили воду ГОРЯЧУЮ (а до этого сообщения мы ессно неделю об этом не догадывались)))
ПС. Начался ужасный ураган, я надела серую куртку из коридора - даже не могла ВЫЙТИ = ""
а почему сразу не мою кожаную Долче&Габанну, а только серую???? ))))ну Машка, пришла, поела, оделась в наши вещи и ушла))Хорошо хоть УБРАТЬСЯ не забыла))
ПС. "Уважаемый Илья!
Вообще-то на котлеты нужны яйца. Ну да ладно, СЛЕПИЛИ!
Все, что висит на балконе - НЕ высохло и глажке НЕ подлежит. Извините, не нашла бумагу. А где НОЖ???
ПС в кулере нет воды (она всегда там есть - прим автора), я выпила вашу бутылочку."

Спортивное или no pain - no gain.

Вернувшись сегодня с тренировки на пилатес-реформер ( спасибо bleu_claire за это), я вспомнила Снежанну и решила-таки по ностальгии увековечить ее еще и в ЖЖ:...

Снежанна, мой тренер или Машка номер 2
Тяпнул меня тут кто-то по голове лопатой и вдруг на прошлой неделе от нечего делать в отпуске я решила сходить в тренажерный зал на индивидуалку. Ну, думаю, мышцы после массажа и мезы подкачаю. Дают мне телефон загадочной Снежанны, ну и как у нас водится, что типа это только из 'Уста в уста и только вам и по большому секрету.'
И секрет не заставил себя ждать. Только я, вся такая легкая и воздушная как зефир, бегу по дорожке, сзади меня раздается глас: 'женщина, и куда вы так бежите с инвалидной скоростью? Что как тетка за автобусом? Те бы лучше не бежали, а шли, быстрее будет'. На мой скромный вопрос а с какой надо, был получен не менее полноценный ответ: 'ну, по заявкам трудящихся...' И оглянув меня с ног до головы, задумчиво заметила: 'женщина, а почему у вас такие ноги жирные? и руки как желе? че на ночь под одеялом жрете??'
Так мы и познакомились. Тренировки со Снежаной -если не испугаешься ее с первого раза -проходят на ура и результат на лицо. После первой тренировки я не могла ходить два дня. Не помогали ни ванны, ни термоодеяла с термоядерным перцем и водорослями.
Следующая тренировка прошла в компании 2х девиц, которых снежанна окрестила Спецназом и сказала себя поберечь, испугавшись что я больше не нарисуюсь. Первое упражнение было названо 'качаем титьку' (и я не шучу). Когда я плавно переползла с титьки на трицепс и вознамерилась отдохнуть, Снежана была тут как тут со словами: 'ты че вату здесь раскатываешь?? А ну через немогу! ... Че, всё КАПЭЦ?? Че ?попить-поесть??Тогда на стенку!'. Следующим заданием был 'адский бок' из разряда упал-отжался-сто-раз и приговорами- 'че, думаете что вы все такие волшебные -жрете и не толстеете?...'короче, с такими шутками-прибаутками час пролетел незаметно;) кульминацией тренировки было когда девушка-спецназ приседала со штангой и на каждый присед Снежана ее подбадривала криками: 'Еблысь! Раз-два, Еблысь! 'и не знаю как вы, но по мне я бы штангу-таки на нее уронила ...ПС. Еще Снежанна  весь урок рассказывала про щенков. Что она их дома оставила и надо бы их пойти вы гулять. На мой вопрос а какой породы щенки, она первый раз улыбнулась и ответила : 'Человеческой!'))))

Романтик.

После пяти лет знакомства оказалось что у меня очень практичный муж. И я даже не знаю, радоваться этому или огорчаться.
Идем мы с ним, значит, вчера вдоль берегов Темзы, розовый вечер, закат, романтик,  я плавно сползаю на скамейку, параллельно замечая на ней табличку :'in memory of our loving....' И мелодраматично так вздыхаю:'Илюх, если я вдруг умру, ты мне поставишь такую же скамейку с табличкой в Кью Гарденс?' Ессно, ожидая услышать, что-то типа что ты, что ты, ты проживешь еще 5 тыщ световых лет. Ну или чуть менее оптимистично, но тоже романтично: ' дорогая, мы умрем в один день поэтому скамейку заказывать будет некому...'
Илья же , бросив на меня быстрый вопрошающий взгляд, типа не собралась ли я умирать прям там, на лавке, и попутно меняя на фотоаппарате ИСО и выдержку, выдыхает: ' хорошо, но я не думаю, что там такую разрешат.' Занавес и вывод: совместный быт разрушает романтику. #ктомневстаростиподастстаканводы#меняюсвоишубывсе#наскамейку#недорого
  • Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

Про местную богему.

Про местную богему.
Вчера мы с Машуней пошли на День Рождения к одной девочке, выпускнице Сент-Мартинса, одного из лучших мировых институтов дизайна и моды, откуда сейчас выходит половина 'рук' модных домов. Ее выпускная коллекция - просто чудо в стиле маккуина и вообще она мега-умница. Вот мы значит в Ист-Энде, каком-то богемном районе, где жизнь, я так поняла, начинается после полуночи поэтому около 9 в этом индустриальном окружении было страшнвато. Ну вот мы на месте, тусовка, сплошь художники (красивая ! девочка из голландии напротив меня на мой вопрос чем ты занимаешься просто ответила: I write, чем поставила меня в тупик.... я тогда наверное должна говорить- I count.. Или еще вот- I control). И еще куча - фотограф из вог, дизайнеров- тоже выпускников того же сент- Мартинса. Я думаю, ну посижу послушаю, ибо блистать мне там нечем;) и заходит разговор об одном из лучших студентов курса, который для своей коллекции ездил По английским кладбищам (тут я напрягалась, но так как кладбища я любою решила дослушать до конца), каким-то там супер-образом переводил на бумагу или ткань надписи на плитах и вуаля, клеил их потом на футболики и пинал моделей на сцену. Все охали-ахали, кивали и цокали. Только у меня видимо произошел разрыв шаблона и я вставила своих 5 копеек- говорю: то есть по сути они носили на груди чьи-то чужие надгробия?Все сразу начали- ну как ты не понимаешь, там особый вид теснения, и.т.д.. Да по мне хоть 3жды золотое теснение, зачем же хоронить себя заживо??короче, я НЕ понимаю....Тут же вспомнился мне случай , когда мы с мамой шли по кладбищу и были 2 новые могилы с красивыми мужчиной и женщиной на памятнике. На вопрос а почему нет второй даты, оказалось что они их себе, внимание, поставили при жизни....(я тут подумала уже может мне при жизни мемориальную скамеечку заказать-таки, место опять же застолбить в кью;)) короче, я замечталась.... а итог таков, что я и современное искусство - две вещи несовместные. #кудакатитсяэтотмир#яиискусство-#истэнд

Kruger National Park - Monkeys, Mambas, Malaria

EASTER WEEKEND – KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

Monkeys, Mambas and Malaria
On the Easter weekend me and 2 of my girlfriends from PEN project, Tiff from US and Ale from Mexico, planed to go to Kruger Park - the biggest safari resort in the world. We planned it even before coming to South Africa choosing between 3 options and I think we chose the best – South of Kruger Park, Shishangeni Lodge.

So on Good Friday Morning, we (me, Tiff and Ale) were flying from J-burg to Nelspruit, the closest point of Kruger. The airport was nice and all surrounded with palms which reminds me of Maldives…2 hours drive with the our driver Eddie and taking pictures of the beautiful Mozambique border which was so close by – you can actually see the changes in nature color – it is more green and intense and you feel the tropical sub - climate as the air is filled with humidity and it is hotter than in Pretoria.
Once we entered the park through the Crocodile Bridge, it started to rain and we saw the rainbow;) Right from the entrance, we already started to see the animals – impalas (those are called McDonalds as usually it is the easiest thing to get for the lions, etc. but I also thought that cuz we saw them so often – it is also like a McDonalds in big cities on each corner). Then, we saw the warthogs – pigs are pigs in Africa - those were enjoying the mud from the rain, we saw elephants, giraffes and rhinos.
When we got to the lodge it was such a pleasant surprise compared to our Umzoxolo Luxury Lodge. – I got the whole house for myself with the terrace, fireplace, huge bed and the bath with windows. Only if I knew that I would move so fast from there…

So after lunch we went to the evening and morning safaris and over the next few days we saw 4 our of Big Five animals – lions (every day), rhinos, elephants, buffalos, but no leopard – those are hard to see as they are scared and usually hide in the grass or on the trees.

But we had something better waiting for us at home. First, I was scared of monkey on my path from my room to reception – on the kinda decks in the jungle – so the monkey wanted by iphone or camera I did not figure out but I was screaming like crazy and she was like : what the hell this girl is yelling at me? And was just getting closer to me….then I heard the girls running form their house to save me and evening the security staff from reception;) so Ale just said BOO and the monkey ran away;) Thanks girl – you are my fave now;)
But best thing was still to come – this story I told many times since then but I am still in shock thinking of it - it was after 5 am morning safari and I was the only one near the swimming pool as others just went to sleep, so I decided to get the massage before the evening safari game.

The massage lady was half an hour late which made me wonder and I opened the door she was standing there shaking and this was a local girl with security guy from the reception. I was like – what is going on and she was like: there was a BLACK MAMBA 2 meters from your door up 1 meter from the ground and the girl was standing still there for half an hour not moving or screaming. When member got under the deck she called the security and they came to my house. Needless to say, me being from Russia had no clue what the hell Black Mamba is all about, and it turned out to be the most poison snake in the world…..

OMG, I thought laying on the massage table and half way through massage I just called my new girlfriend from Brazil next door asking to move in with her and called the manager of the hotel, grab his hand and asked him to guide me to the girlfriend’s place as I did not want to stay a minute in the house which turned out to be the house for the black mamba as well and the thought of finding her in my bed at night did not appeal to me at all.

So, till the end of the trip I did not go alone anywhere – only with the waiters or the managers;)

That night we had the braai (barbeque) with the fire and talked with the group of auditors from New York why the US is imposing their way of thinking in the politics of other countries like in Latin America or in the Middle East….I forgot my passport, camera, money and credit card there so after the night rain my passport looks like a toilet paper but thanks God they found it…

So, the last day we drove to the airport right after the morning safari which was amazing as we saw elephants like 2 meters from us and the day before the lion pride eating the wildebeest for breakfast which I thought is disgusting but this is nature and you cannot do much about it…

Monday after Easter was a vacation day in SA, so we just spend this day in Pretoria celebrating Ale’s birthday and went to the Monument of Voortreckers – very nice object from the architectural point of view but the history behind it did not appear so appealing (it actually seem to praise the Dutch who invaded the northern provinces of SA in 1800 - early 1900s as the British conquered Cape Town and start to impose the British Colony rules – but at the advantage of the local tribes of the northern provinces).
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SUGAR DADDIES

You would think about this even in Russia, when you see a young pretty girl next to the old bold man with loads of money and I am kind of used to it from Moscow, but what happens here in Africa is just a shock.

It was written in the article in one of South African news papers that the minister of Health, says that his sound has been “destroyed” after news broke that older men are infecting 10-to 14 year old girls with HIV.

According to the minister, at least 28% if schoolgirls in South Africa are HIV positive, whereas only 4% of young boys are infected with the virus.

The minister says: “It is clear that it is not young boys who are sleeping with these girls. It is old men. We must take a stand against sugar daddies because they destroy our children”. Those men are not only sugar daddies, but they are also rapists…

But the question is how to stop this trail of destruction.

The reason of the problem is that the girls are seeking for older men not having their own father. Recent research showed that the normal “typical” child in South Africa is raised by a mother while the father is either gone or austere. Fathers are the ones who are shaping our self-image and attitude towards men in the future – in this case father should be there for you not to make mistakes. Even if he is, he is so far in his “clouds” and not taking a part in parenting the child, that he can as well be on another planet and nothing will change. This actually puts these girls into the arms of older men that have money, some type of caring feelings, and promise them the world which are not true…

So actually what can be done is that fathers should “stand up and deliver”, and go out of their vast carelessness and not let these girls end-up in the hands of sugar daddies that get them infected with HIV….



suggar daddies

Kindergarten visiting and Russian Pelmeni Party

Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write and count. Childhood is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace which is right for each individual child. ©

Kindergarten visiting and Russian Pelmeni Party
Monday we just spend at the office and our Mom’s kindergarten (ruled by Mama Johanna whom I just adore – this big black woman runs her own business and is a caregiver for 40-50 kids like 7 days a week – she started in her own flat but there were no sanitary norms and place to play). Our worker Magdalena’s daughter of 8 years old, Anissa, did an outstanding job in reading so the next day we brought her bunch of school stuff and Tiff bought books for her to read, she is so eager to learn and never stops! Funny that all the kids here know the English song (kiddy’s nursery rhythm):

Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high
Like the diamonds in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.

On Tuesday
, March 26th we went to three different kindergartens how teacher use the educational programs with kids. There are currently 3 programs for literacy and numeracy available in South Africa from our client PEN - Inner City Pre-School Forum (ICPF):

1)
Brainboosters – 6 educational modules consisting of colors, shapes, numbers, etc.
Only 3 schools have it and in 2 out of 3 there is only 1st module on Colors available….and in total there are 24 pre-schools in the Forum!!! So, long way to go and to cover up the rest of kindergartens but currently there are funding and finance constraints to do it.

2) Souns – in this educational program the alphabet/reading is taught not through letters but through sounds which from physiological and psychological point of view is right for the child. This program is available in 9 schools out of 24 but the problem lies in teachers who do not have enough Early Childhood Education (ECD) to teach the kids how to play it – so the program sets frequently are not used.

3) Reading eggs – is a computer based program to learn how to read through play (so from the beginning there is a limited ability to establish it at schools as first some just have no space and second – teachers and caregivers are computer-illiterate).

First we visited Di
vine Grace pre-school – it was on the 2d floor of some market so kids have no outside playground to play during the day but the facilities were fine and kids seems happy. There we met a wonderful woman Stephanie who runs this kindergarten – she is the refugee from French Kongo since 2000 with no English knowledge but has such a passion for kids and charisma to inspire that from the kindergarten of 4 kids in 2008 she grew her business up to 170 kids now, with support of 15 teachers and 10 rooms space. Her success story really makes us feel that there is a future for this country and children education…The program shown at this pre-school was Souns – and it really worked and children are able to recognize the sounds from the first site. The inter-play and spirit of cooperation between the kids brings even more value to the program as children help each other to pick up the correct letter/sound and there is no fear of failure in front of others.

Next school we visited was Pennies – the school that our client PEN has started and has been taken care of. It is non-profit organization so the money collected goes only to cover the costs and the building has a free rent from the church. There are approximately 110 children and 15 caregivers. There we watched the BrainBooster color module in action and the research at Pennies shows that after just 2 months 8 out of 10 children from any age can recognize the colors correctly. Now the problem is to finance the rest of the schools with at least the 1st module of Colors from Brainboosters.

The last school we visited was Sun Sparrows – the most beautiful one with the perfect inner green spacious playground – the kids there were so open so we took LOADS of pictures and they were actually posing for us;) Here the program shown was Reading eggs and the school has a special computer corner with 5 computers with pre-loaded software from Reading Eggs. There are 12 modules (called maps) and you can cover them in 12 months if you are really fast. Usually the program is used with the kids of the pre-school age (6 yo) but the teacher told us that it works better with the 5 yo as well as they have more time to repeat the stuff at their own pace and the earlier you start the reading education the better. Plus, the program has an evaluation test at the end of each map and the kids receive the certificate with percentage of accomplished modules and their score out of 100 which helps to monitor and evaluate the impact of the program.

Exhausted and tired we returned to our office – kindergarten.
I think we have the best project ever and we are so blessed with this location. Even though all of the pre-schools and kindergartens here have the electric fences….

In the evening we had a</b> Russian Pelmeni cooking party - was so fun with all the people cooking (or somebody just went to eat in my room – making a dough with the bottle of wine, cutting the rounds with glasses and finally eating;) I hoped all enjoyed and Tony has prepared wonderful sauce with tomatoes as I completely forgot about the sour cream that pelmeni should go with in Russia;)

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

On Wednesday we had a training session with the caregivers and teachers from pre-schools at our PEN premises – this was kind of a workshop where we helped the caregivers to create the working materials for education like colors, shapes, numbers, days of the week, months, etc. There were really excited when they were preparing these colorful papers and get them laminated so they can be re-usable for kids.
I got so involved into the process that I did not want to leave to do the office work;)

In the evening we got the barbeque dinner in our hotel courtyard and were listening to the history of South Africa and time of Apartheid form Jurie, local supporter for our CSC experience – crime and poverty is still a big issue here (and I am still afraid to go along in the streets near our hotel even in the daylight and with no jewelry on cuz it is just too scary – one time guy came and said hello when I was alone in the street of Pretoria – I think it was the fastest run since high school that I did that day to the hotel. They say they just shoot people for mobile or iphone here – and I guess my life costs a little bit more than iphone 5….

But I still think that if we can get to the bottom of thing here and do some “5-why?” root cause analysis it would be something like:
1) CRIME – currently only 40% of crimes that are actually reported are getting to the end of investigation, and only 10% are getting to conviction. This does not include the crimes that we NOT reported and there is a lot of rape and house abuse or petty cash steeling in the shops.
WHY CRIME – cuz there is no money to buy food, clothes, house =>
2) POVERTY – most of the black population is poor and you can see it in the streets.
WHY POVERTY – cuz the people just cannot get the jobs and official unemployment rate is 28% now.
3) WHY NO JOBS – cuz they are not educated for a qualified job. We were told very few black people pass the school with satisfactory marks in order to get to the University. And in order to pass the class, you have to get only 5% of 100% in the course with the multiple-question test…this one is hard to miss and get less than 5% of mark – my personal view….
4) WHY BAD EDUCATION – first, the Minister of Education got rid of all the technical schools where you can go after the high school (lower than university for the professions like electric engineer, etc.) as it was considered a “low” job and part of segregation. So, there is no professional technical people in the country anymore.
And the focus from government is on the last 3 years of high school while the problem starts much earlier – with first 3 years of learning which brings us to –
5) POOR or NO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION. This is where we try to help on a small scale at least during this month at PEN with 24 kindergartens on PEN Business plan, fundraising, administration, health and safety and education programs.1613
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  • Current Location: Pretoria, South Africa
  • Current Mood: sunny and funny
  • Current Music: Shakira "This time for Africa"

Orphanage in Soweto, Safari and Shopping

Day 6, March 21st, Thursday

Yesterday we went to the Orphanage in Soweto, one of the poorest districts of Johannesburg, just to see the kids, bring them some stuff for fun and for school and play with them. There were 60 children from age 3 months to 22 years but on average from 3 to 16yo. They did an amazing program and I was still shocked how black kids can sing 2 lines of music at once without any wrong tone or dance like Gods. I think it is in their blood from when they are born – so natural and beautiful.

The rest of the time we played with them and one 10 –month old just got stuck on my hands;) but it is such a nice feeling ;) also, he did not cry for an hour and was kinda not moving a lot – so easy for me to handle…but still, I felt kind of sadness in their eyes and did not feel good about the fact that we are not parents that went there for the main purpose – to adopt. According to School Director, 100% of girls under 6 are getting adopted and approx. 45% of boys under 6. after that their chances to be adopted are close to zero as most of the couple can’t have kids and are looking for a small child. Anyway, the games were fun and tired and happy we went back to our place – I was signing with the driver from the close village and somebody was sleeping in the back of the car with her mouth open;) but this is nice tiredness, really.

Day 7, March 22d, F
riday
Today we just went to work and I spent like 3 hours talking to the Director of Pre-School Forum about the educational programs they have for kids from 1-6 and what are the constraints of implementing this in all of the PEN 24 kindergartens and also how they fund it. All this info is needed for the business plan that we suppose to write. In the evening we had a red wine testing session and just started to dance (Nosa = Nosa in Portuguese, some belly dancing like in Jordan, Indian Bollywood style and Japan crazy jumps;).

Day 8, March 23d,
Saturday
Today I can call a safari day – right from 7:30 in the morning (Gosh, I thought I would sleep a little bit more on the weekend;) we went to the Rhino-Lion Park where my highlight of the day was to get to touch and play with small cubs of Siberian tiger, Lion, Cerval (wild cat with the black spots), and Chita. Chita was a bit angry with me and turned around on me with its claws but I jump fast enough to overcome the tension between us;)

In the nature all the animals seems more relaxed, we saw w lions hidden in the bushes, antelope gnu, heartbeast, springbok, blessbok, ostrich, buffalo, wild dogs and many others. But still I felt like in a big zoo where there is no cages, but the road and the cars created the sense of reality to it.

Second stop was the cave with the Cradle of Humankind – it was like 2m years ago when the first Australopetecus Africanus (God, if I spell it right;) was living here and his scull was found in the 20th century in the cave – so he was running and just fell from 40 meters into this cave – this is how he was found. 229 steps down into the darkness (hi, claustrophobia and asthma) and we are in the middle of nowhere under the Earth. There were people with good sense of humor I guess who made a wedding in this place – I guess just to see that some guests would not actually show up and save the wedding costs;)

After we went from the Cave, the thunderstorm with the lightning started – second rain in Africa since we came;) yeah!! The smell of fresh rain and the bushes around I would not exchange now for the constant freezing rain of London…..

In the evening we just went to the fancy restaurant called Kream in the rich part of Pretoria and I felt like I am back home in center of Moscow or in Mayfair in London – nicely dressed people, white linen tablecloths, crystal clean glasses....this is all just overrated except for the food – tried Crocodile Carpaccio and ostrich stake (the one that crossed our car road when we were driving that day I guess;). I felt dizzy all the way and then clever me – figured out that I got a sun stroke as I was not wearing hat in +33 the whole day. So, turned around in wet cold towels, I finally went to sleep;)

Day 9,
March 24th, Sunday
I can call it a day of shopping malls (we finally went to 2 of them) but NO SHOPPING. Except for the T-shirt that I got for like 20 dollars more of the message on the front that I really like: “YOU NEED TO KNOW: It is time to feel free and do the RIGHT things for the WRONG reasons. Because you are free as a wind.~” – I could not agree more. This evolved the discussion about if you all do the right things in life and just wait for the moment of truth to come and do what you really want to do in life. In this sense, this Corporate Service Corps experience is a life-changer for me.
I also went to get my hair done by a girl from Ghana (the equatorial country in West Coast of Africa) –so, when I told how nice and hot it is here for me she was like – nono, it is cold. Ghana is warm;) and smiled. I imagined her in Moscow with -18 and snow now and felt she is still not in a bad place so far judging by the weather;)

Interesting thing – I saw the scar on her cheek and asked if it was from the iron – she said – “no, it is from our tribe back home”. So, when there are little kids the tribe just cuts with the razor the marks on their cheeks and each tribe has its own mark. Thanks God my Russian “tribe” left me alone…

She also told that she has a daughter of 6 yo and 5 smaller sisters with the father back in Ghana, her mother died 5 years ago, and she has no husband. So, she went to earn money here and sent it home – which is 7000 km away….Africa is big I thought after that story…and poor. I put the shopping check right beside my bed where I spent a big amount of money for just one thing to wear – to just remind me that there are people who want to eat but hungry and this is there monthly, if not yearly salary.32632_10151275809277504_1547562928_n
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IBM Service Corps Experience. South Africa

Just a week has past since my Emirates plane left London and landed first in Dubai and then Johannesburg, or as the locals call it – Joburg…All the three months of preparation with the team are left behind and in front of me - city full with crime and beauty…

How do they say it in the dissertation disclaimers – all the below thoughts are my own and come from what I see and feel….I will write only my honest impressions and true opinions about this wonderful country and our not least wonderful project…;)

So – how it all started – 15 of us from all over the world – 12 countries including US, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Denmark, China, India, Japan, Poland, Australia, New Zealand and Russia (hope I did not forget anybody, ufff – it took long to write and remember) – all of us from IBM who gathered for ONE month in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, at the South end of the world, to do the social or business volunteering projects for the local business and society.

So, Day 1.
To start with Johannesburg – first impression is that there is no european face in the street. I am not exaggerating but coming from London, which is also one of the most international cities in the world, the difference is just there. Plus the crime is one of the highest and Joburg, I was told is the 3d city for murders in the world.

Anyway, I was so exhausted from 24-hour flight, I just did not care and stare around on all of the houses and people and seemed to be a normal southern town – like Krasnodar or Sochi in Russia, - the temperature was around +20 degrees in the evening which was just perfect for me being from Russia. I have heard then later from the girl from Zambia who was doing my hair in the salon that South Africa is cold, but I said” com on sista, you don’t know what Russia is all about;)”

Our hotel, ironically, was called Balalaika and was in the middle of business centers area so rather safe but the walk you cannot do alone – only in the group of people and in the certain direction – food court (so, direction at least was the right one for ME). So, we went for the evening and were impressed by local kitchen – which is primarily steaks (ostrich one is the local specialty), fish and prawns (the latter ones I got from Mozambique though;)




Day 2 in Joburg just passed by as we went to the IBM premises to meet with the local IBM management, and also got a chance to visit Saturday School for girls from poor area nearby where IBMers teach them science, math, and also life skills – for example, how to live with HIV….they were so excited to hear from what different countries we were (especially about Brazil, but I just think they liked our guy;)

In the afternoon we went to the Apartheid museum and this was such a sunny day and such a said history behind the apartheid era in South Africa between blacks and whites but Nelson Mandela’s story left the impression that something in this county is still possible to change. At least I started to get used to the sense of insecurity around but at list I stopped freak out on each red light that our car was stopping by. Needless to say, that a week later I could be without my iphone just talking with the open window in the car – I am never the one in the middle but take the extremes. So, now I am back on the safety track, I hope.

Day 3 we were supposed to move from Joburg to Pretoria, but as I did not sleep that night as I needed to finish my final draft for the MBA paper and the night just passed by me and never said hello. So literally sleeping only 40 min, a bus brought my still resting body & soul into the craft market…..which was filled with stuff I would love to see in our new home but would not be physically able to bring it from here. It is worth mentioning that I wanted giraffes of my height and similar or smaller elephants. So, finally I got this beautiful old masque from Ivory Coast, West Africa (almost killed the seller guy and turned down the price from 2000 to 500Rands). This is my doll now, she has a name Ifore and leaves on my hotel table. I put around her earrings, bracelets, etc. and try to change it everyday so she does not feel sad (sad old masque from God knows where can do pretty scary things so I just wanna make her happy).

Eating beatlong (some sort of pressed beef that you get totally addictive to like to semechki/sunflower fried seeds in Russia) in the bus in less than an hour we got to our (I will not be afraid to say this word loudly) – attention to the 2d word, please – Umzuxolo LUXURY Lodge in student area at Pretoria. That’s where the whole fun started. Leaving the last 3 days in a nice hotel Balalaika near the pool was a dream after we saw our rooms. My dreams to live in University dormitory finally came true 7 year after I finished MGU.
The rooms missed shower heads, shower curtains and OMG – Internet. The windows were not washed since Napoleon invasion and the car noise from outside (no air - conditioner, of course) reminded me of my sweet Russian home.

In 2 days I found 2 cucarachas running around so I put all the food into the fridge. Needless to say, that the next day I saw the dead body of one of them in the fridge laying on my food. How we say in IBM, I needed to report and get rid of dead body quickly.
Thanks God I did not have these visitors again. BUT….
Taking into consideration ALL said about, there is this community feeling that all IBMers and students from local University of Pretoria living with us have, that it made it an interesting experience for me at least to live….let’s see the month is just ahead of us….

Days 4-6 with the start of new week – on Monday each team of 4 people got to meet with their customers and tell about the projects – we have 4 of them (all below is how I understood the Statements of Work so can be on and off):
1) Fair Trade in Tourism of South Africa (SA) – the guys are helping to build the architecture for the database to help to the client to identify the impact of Fair Trade Tourism mark for the travelers to go to specific hotel in SA and put together all the data of their BAU reports and operations;
2) UN Women Organization – here the team is building the similar to the point 1), solution of the architecture of the database to help the local black women who run the retailer business to maintain it profitable;
3) Ministry of Education – this team has the toughest challenge to establish the platform on which those pupils from high school who did not got to the University (and there are loads which just passed the high school with 30-40% passing rate) got the chance to continue their education on-line through mobile devices (as a lot of people do not have the computers but mobiles are used extensively);
4) PEN Project (Pre-School Forum) – dearest to my heart and the best of all 4 projects, not just because I am the part of the team but because it reflected my goal of being here and what I always wanted to do – to have a work related to kindergartens and Early Childhood education.

Our project is about building the business plan for the Non-Government Organization Inner City Pre-School Forum (PSF) in order to be able to grow and have a sustainable structure. Currently the Organization has 24 private or non-formal kindergartens/nurseries/daily childcare involved, and 3 workers on board. The main goal is to provide the training for the caregivers (who are usually old black women = gogosh (grannies in local Afrikaans language)) and provide educational materials so that the children from 0-6 years old have the possibility to learn the basics of literacy and numeracy and be ready for school. Some of the schools have 50 children in 3 room flat with no going out for a walk premises, which should be changed one way or another.
So, we will be looking into market analysis, fundraising opportunities (as this is critical for PSF as the management themselves need to look for additional resources for funding, , educational programs used and training for assignees as well as Health and Safety checks and the administrations/operational and financial strategy for PSF.
Part of PEN and our project scope is Hide and Seek program which deals with the testing for HIV for kids.

Very enthusiastic man which manages this program, took us on the 1st day of assignment around other PEN projects (there are 21 of them) – the ones we will be not participating in – first was the Youth Ministry – which is the place where kids go after school and play sports or life skill games, then we went to the Home of Safety (nice word for orphanage) for the girls (most of them are non-South Africans which makes it harder for them to ask for help from authorities but also to ask for help in funds, as South African Government supports only South-Africans).
Then, we went to the HIV clinic, which was truly amazing – built on the money from US Agency, it had Air conditioner as Tuberculosis which usually goes together with HIV is transferred through air, with social workers, Physiotherapists, etc.
And we finished the day with the visit to Red Lights District where they build the local café and a craft market where local prostitutes can have a cup of coffee and a regular doctor check.

We will also need to write about the procedure for the mobile clinic unit to go around provinces and makes the testing.

On Tuesday, Day 6, we got to our Office premises – that turned out to be a local private child day-care with training facilities from PSF – nice small modest but neat house (like a summer dacha for Russians) renovated by volunteers and given to PEN by government. There we will spend the next 3 weeks – yahoo!!!

In this particular pre-school there are 40 kids – 20 from 0-3 yo (the smallest one is only 3 months old and he does not usually cry even being there from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm!!) and 20 kids from 3-6 years. It is worth to say than all of the children are black and it matches the population (78-85% in South Africa are black). I do not know who was more exited – we when we saw the kids or the kids when they saw us.;)


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