Sunday, December 13, 2009

Something for you guys to pray about

For those of you who never met her, let me introduce you to my young friend Nurgul.If things had worked out differently, you would all know her, because I tried very hard to adopt her and her brother Ramazan; but then if those things had worked out differently you wouldn't have known Anya and Kinya, because the paperwork that we used to adopt Anya and Kinya was the paperwork we had originally put together for Nurgul and Ramazan.

I'm very proud of Nurgul, who, despite the fact that ultimately she didn't get adopted and come to America, has refused to let that stop her from getting on with life. She has managed to keep herself in school, with the help of a "youth house" that gives Kazakh orphans a place to stay while they're in college, and she has found work as a programming intern during vacations (she wants to be a "programmist"), and she only has one semester left.

But I need you guys to pray for her. The youth house is full and they're moving out the oldest kids to make room for younger kids who are about to age out of the orphanages, just as older kids had to make room for Nurgul a couple of years ago. "They" -- by which I think Nurgul probably means "the government," though I haven't asked her specifically -- have informed her that she has to move to the equivalent of a housing project. Now neither you nor I would ever want anybody we know to live in a high-crime, crumbling-concrete, government-run housing project; but I don't see what option she has at the moment. Apartments ("kvartiri") don't work in Kazakhstan the way they do here; kvartiri are more like condominiums than like apartments, in that you have to buy them, not rent them. So while we might have been able to pull together a couple hundred dollars a month for Nurgul to rent an apartment while she starts working and saving money to buy her own place, that's not actually an option -- if she wants a kvartira she has to buy one outright, and the cheapest one-bedroom kvartira she can find, would cost $7,000.00. Which of course she doesn't have (and I don't either).

Think of it this way: the cost of living in Kazakhstan isn't what it is here, but the start-up cost for entering independent adult life is rather higher. My impression (which Roma or Dina will probably correct, in which case I'll come back and rewrite this bit) is that the way you deal with this as an ordinary Kazakhstani young person, is that you live with your parents quite a bit longer than American children live with their parents. I know Anya and Kristina were rather taken aback to discover that the natural expectation of American kids was that graduating from high school pretty much meant leaving home and living on your own after that (though, naturally, with plenty of financial support from the folks until the college degree had been secured).

But Nurgul has no family, of course. So it's come up with the $7,000, or off to the housing project she goes. There's no way she can come up with that kind of cash, and it'll be 2011 probably before I myself will be in any position to say, "Hey, I'm sending you a check..." (There's a bank account where I put a little bit of money every month for her to withdraw from the ATM's over there, but it'll take a long time for her to save $7,000 out of that pittance of an allowance.)

God, however, is perfectly capable of providing it if He sees fit. So if you could remember Nurgul in your prayers, I'd be ever so grateful.


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