Hello dear family and friends;
Here in Kazakhstan things have been finally settling down into somewhat of a normal routine. Due to some difficulties with not being able to access blogger I from Kazakhstan I have had to start a new one at http://kazakhvictoria.viviti.com . I will try to update them both when I can but you may want to check them both.
I’ve been back in Taraz for almost three weeks now and I definitely hit the ground running. I’ve loved being back in Kazakhstan and am ever so thankful for restored health. It has also been great to have spent the last two weekends in the same location which is something I haven’t done since November. Even better, that location has been here at home!! I did visit with some friends but kept things pretty low key after some very busy weeks.
During the last two weeks, the team and I have had fun at the orphanages with the children. I want to share some pictures and tell you about one particular boy.
Arman is a sweet boy who was new at Ulan Orphanages when I returned from my time in the States. He is bigger than the other children in his group and didn’t come running when we entered their room. When I asked about him, I was informed that he was deaf, dumb and mute. Well, he most definitely is deaf. He doesn’t make many noises but does have the ability to make sound because I have since heard him make many. He is trapped in his own world with little or no attention having been paid to him. This young child is not dumb by any means, from what I can tell.
With a little work he will give eye contact. I was thrilled to see him pick up a crayon when I directed him to the table and demonstrated with a crayon what to do. Arman explored the many colors and made many marks on his paper before turning his attention to playing with the crayons like Lincoln Logs. He lined up 5 side by side and, using his hand, rolled them simultaneously back and forth. Then he stacked 4 crayons on top in the opposite direction and again rolled them, observing how they rolled back and forth depending on how he pushed them.
The next week the class decorated book covers and title pages with stickers and their names. We wrote their names both in Kazakh and in English but they did all the decorating. I placed the pages in front of Arman, then handed him a foam sticker and placed the sticker side towards his fingers. After several minutes of exploring the stickiness against his face and hands, he placed it on the cover. I was so pleased to see him work right along with the other children who were decorating.
It has been a challenge getting the other children to realize that we will not tolerate their grabbing things from Arman or hitting him. Whenever a hand goes near him, he flinches. It breaks my heart.
I also let him explore the buttons on my camera. This is not something I generally do! Many of the children in the younger groups have impulse control issues and are not very gentle with things like expensive cameras. Arman very methodically and gently pressed the buttons and soon it became evident to me that he was searching for the button that caused the flash to go off. Once he identified the button, he stood in front of the camera getting it to flash several times. He also found the button that allowed him to scroll back through the pictures I had taken. He touched an image of a child and then searched the room looking for that particular child. Several times he looked directly into my eyes, seemingly to ask me a question and then he turned back to the camera. Oh, how I wanted a way to communicate with this child.
I started researching, looking for resources to help reach Arman. American Sign Language wasn’t what I needed. I needed Kazakh or at least Russian. I talked to Beth and send several emails to various people. This past Monday I found out that Gulnar, who works here at Interlink with the older orphans after they leave the orphanage, actually knows Kazakh sign language! And her mother is a translator for the deaf community right here in Taraz. Amazing!! What an answer to my prayers! It turns out there also is a deaf boarding school here in Taraz. We are looking into seeing what kind of facility this is and if Arman could go there and what kind of services we can get for Arman right now. I am so excited about this.
Last Thursday I was greatly encouraged when Arman let out a heartfelt giggle while I was playing with him. To see this precious boy smile and laugh made the hardships I encounter living here more than worth it.
Thank you, dear friends and family, for your continued support and encouraging words. I love hearing from each of you.