Travel Plea update

Do you ever have one of those days when you should be doing something but you can’t because there is something else going on in your life that takes up the majority of your brain cells? I know anyone who has been through an international adoption knows exactly what I’m talking about. When I last left off I was asking for your help to purchase a plane ticket to get me to Russia on behalf of Sweet Hope. Here is what has happened since then.

I have received a number of donations from very generous people. If I could hug you all I would. Honestly.

I also got an email from a very dear friend that said she would make sure I got on that airplane. I’m about to hop in my car and drive to her house and hug her too… only she lives in San Diego and the price of gas is too much. (Although, I might send a Sweet Hope board member to deliver the hug for me since said board member lives not far from said donor.)

Plane ticket. Check.

I then received an email from Galina. I have not willed my email to bing in a very long time. Galina says:

Hi, Lisa. I am very glad to receive your letters. We shall be glad to meet you in Khabarovsk.

Holy hell! This is going to work!

Then my elation turned to a pit in my stomach of worry.

Now it is a lot of new emigration of rules:
Now, if someone invites in privat case and places the visitor with itself home, they should direct the invitation 2-3 months prior to arrival, and before it to collect very many of the documents and then to register the visitor in emigration office.

To translate translated Russian:

If a visitor travels to Russia and intends to stay in a private residence (which I intended to do) they must have a letter of invitation issued 2-3 months prior to the visit. This is so all the proper immigration paperwork can be registered. All foreign travelers to Russia must have a travel visa.


Galina then put me in contact with a lovely lady named Anastasia. Anastasia will offer the letter of invitation (a requirement to get a Russian Visa) free of charge. This is only a small savings, but it is a savings. However, I will now have to pay for a hotel.

So now I’m sure you are thinking, why does she need to go in November? Logistics. If I stay with Galina I need 2-3 months lead time. 2-3 months from now is December (chocolate making and Christmas) or January (Russian holidays). I also have a “real” job. That job requires that I work like mad March – July. There is no way I could take time off during that time. This leaves February. The average temperature in February is -11C. The average temperature in November is -3C. This may not seem like a big difference, but after many months of -14C and -16C the city becomes a frigid frozen popsicle and traveling to outlaying areas (Khor village) is almost impossible. November is the best option at this point. A November trip will also allow Sweet Hope to start off 2013 on the right foot. We can move forward with real and lasting good.

I’m not done begging.

I received an email from someone asking what I would do if I got to Khabarovsk. I’ll be honest, at the time of the email I wasn’t 100% sure. I hadn’t heard from Galina. As it turns out a few email exchanges last night helped everything fall into place. There are a few reasons for this trip.

I would like to visit Khor Village orphanage. Talk to the director and find out what her area of most need is. We know that the children are in desperate need of a new play structure. I want to see the conditions of this facility. I want to learn first hand about the children that live there.

I also asked Galina if I could visit a facility that I called Korsakovo Orphanage. Galina informed me that there was no orphanage in that village. She called the government directly (this is why Galina is my contact). If there was no orphanage then how did this website exist, I asked. The answer to this was a bit shocking.

There are two kinds of facilities in the Khabarovsk Krai (and possibly all across Russia). There are ORPHANAGES and there are CHILDREN’S HOUSES. Children’s Houses are funded by the territory (Krai). They receive more money (and attention). They are better run and the children are better taken care of, because they have money. Then there are orphanages. Orphanages are funded by the village and are very poor. They receive little if any attention and the conditions for the children are bleak. Mirnoe Village and Khor Village are ORPHANAGES. Korsakovo is a CHILDREN’S HOUSE.

Galina told me she would take me to the Korsakovo children’s house if I wish. Her meaning was that, they don’t need help as much as other facilities. I told her I would like to visit anyway. I also told her that I would like to visit orphanages that house the same aged children as Korsakovo. I want to see the difference. What can Sweet Hope do to help the children in the orphanages? If there is already a system in place for older children to succeed in life how does that reach the children in the poorer orphanages? These are all questions Sweet Hope needs answers to. This same principle is true for the younger children. What services do the younger and disabled children get that the ones in poorer village orphanages do not get.

There is urgency. These are the lives of children. Look at your child today. Remember that you kissed him goodbye as he got on the school bus. Realize that you read him a bedtime story. You kissed her boo-boo when she fell down. You rocked her to sleep. You helped your son pick out a college. There are hundreds of thousands of children on the other side of the world who have never had that simple gesture of love. Now is your chance to make a difference.

I am begging you. You can’t see the tears streaming down my face. You can only make the decision for yourself. This is not a trip for me to sightsee. I’ve been to Khabarovsk 3 times. I don’t intend to visit the tourist locations there. I’ve been there. I’m going to visit children. Children who live in an institution with nothing. Please visit the Sweet Hope donate page and help make a difference. Your donation is tax deductible. We will take any amount you can offer.

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