River of Joy base from the road

River of Joy base from the road
Picnic Patio goes to work

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


PUBLISHED 8-8-12 Yesterday I was in Simferopol walking in extreme heat from the tax office where I got my Ukraine ID renewed  (WHEW!)  to central market with Sasha Zuyev, my new ambassador to the bureaucracy. It helps that he is a deputy minister in the Sel Soviet in Zelenogorsk, the controlling agricultural land office in the micro-region where River of Joy project is and where I live.  Sasha is a member of the session. In addition to doing the bureaucratic interface work he will lobby for our interests before the next session which will determine our lease cost, hopefully obtaining a lower cost lease for us based on our non-profit charity work. That is as it should be, but it does no harm to have a man known for his integrity take your case. We were walking and talking for about a mile on burning sidewalks of broken blacktop because Sasha is a fitness freak.  I like him in spite of that.

We were talking about the SBU (Internal Affairs, like KGB but new internal Ukraine police) He had a meeting with one of their officers scheduled. They were asking his advice on another land issue. That triggered a memory for me. I told him about one time we had a humantarian aid container waiting for custom's clearance. It was one of 22 we have received from NIICCA in Northern Ireland. It had some pretty cool stuff in it, including used notebook computers and hospital supplies. We met with the commissioner of Hum Aid in Simferopol. He was also the local Director of Aid distribution for the Red Cross and incorrigibly corrupt. He asked for something from our container, (which he would sell and pocket the proceeds). We told him flatly, "NO!" He said, "Then I will hold up your customs clearance."

What this man didn't know is that the previous container we had distributed came with an old used G.E. CAT Scan unit in it. None of the children's hospitals or regional hospitals we helped wanted the enormous contraption. But the Military Hospital received it even though it was over 10 years old, not working and G.E. was not supporting it with parts.  They needed it for P.R. so it seems. We let them have it, grateful to get it off our hands..

Immediately the SBU took us under their wing! We were supposed to help them fight terrorism. That seemed good so long as it did not take much effort or hurt the help we were providing sick children. They asked for three used notebooks from the container from NIICCA. We agreed. So even though the Director of humanitarian Aid didn't sign off on it for lack of a bribe, our container was quickly released from customs! He was one dumbfounded big shot. "Who is your roof?" he asked. "SBU!" Surprise is not a strong enough word to describe the look on his face.

That was eleven years ago.  Now we are working on more fundamental cultural problems like how to put hurting children in God's care with loving parents rather than a governmental orphanage.

Speaking of roofs, the old farmhouse we warehouse hum aid in prior to distribution and things like toys and costumes for use in our children's  camps has sprung several leaks! We had water damage problems last winter/spring. This is how it looked when I came back the first of June.



Local contractors asked firstly $10.000 then over $8500 to do the reconstruction...rafters and all. In America it would be a bargain but here at least half of it will go to the contractor and it won't get done right.
I waited a little nervously until Sasha Zhitkov, who helped me do our other roofs was finished with his other work in Simferopol. He and his brother are doing this work now and I am self contracting. At first it put a huge load on yours truly. Up to day before yesterday I was buyiing groceries, preparing all the meals for the guys who are from Simferopol but camp out here all week. I am buying building materials, dealing with local authorities on land issues and drawing our builders pictures of how I want the roof bracing done. Now we have a cook.


SO I am taking an hour or two to do this newsletter in hopes we can get a little more money help. So far we have gone through $3800 including my Social Security money. Another $2500 should finish the project...HELP PLEASE. 

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