THE PEOPLE WRITE:
The underlined phrases are clickable links.
FROM PHOENIX, ARIZONA
Truth in Media's GLOBAL WATCH Bulletin 98/12-4 6-Dec-98
Topic: READERS' FORUM - DECEMBER 1998
Some reactions to... "Wall Street Boom, Main Street Doom" (a CHRONICLES
magazine, October 1998 column)
RUSSIA: AN AMERICAN FINDS A BETTER LIFE IN MOSCOW
PHOENIX - We received the following comment from a TiM reader, an American
now living in Moscow.
MOSCOW - I am an American reader of your Truth in Media site who lives and
works in Moscow. I agree with what you say. Concerning the cost of living
that you wrote and another person wrote about, I would like to add my two
I am an unskilled worker, and have found it hard to make ends meet in the
US, as do tens of millions of others. Though I'm a good worker, it wasn't
not enough to support myself, let alone a family.
My first trip to Moscow was in 1993. Since I liked the people, I found that
I couldn't stay away. I knew that if I wanted to live here, I would have to
find some work, or create a business of my own. So, this is what I did - I
created a business of my own. And that is, teaching English.
This, I could never do in the US, as you need a college education along
with being certified. In Russia, this has not been a problem with me,
whether teaching in a school, a business, or privately. Apparently I'm
good, as I have students stay with me a long time And I also get
I don't make much money. But I feel that I have a better life than in the
US. I do not live in a rat hole, nor do I live in a bad neighborhood (I don
t think there is one in Moscow, despite what the media says). I have a good
girlfriend, good food, and some luxuries.
I don t have a car, as I can t afford one. But the public transport system
is very reliable and cheap. Even if I could afford a car, I wouldn't want
one, as it would take longer to go to the city center than by metro
(subway). Also, unlike the metro and other public transport in the US, the
Moscow metro is safe, even late at night.
What I am saying is this: It s a shame that America has lost many of the
qualities it once had. Which is what made millions of honest workers want
to immigrate there. True, they still have many immigrants, but most of them
are looking just to make a few dollars to send back home, or they are into
I've been teaching English in Russia for about three-and-a-half years.
Would I like to go back? Yes. But what would I do? Hope that some company
that pays minimum wage picks me out of 20 or more applicants. Then what?
Look for another full time job just to make ends meet? Or, live in a bad
section of the city where the rent is cheaper, but risking my life going to
and from work every day? And while I m at work, have my home with the
little that I was able to buy? Having to pay more insurance because of the
neighborhood I live in? Getting my old junker fixed, because I can t afford
a new car? No thanks!
I am middle-aged, so I know what America was like 30 years ago, and how
much life was better back then. Those of Americans who are older, know of
even a better time.
Do I miss my family and friends? Yes. Do I miss America? Some things, yes.
But other things, like the crime and the change in the attitudes of the
People claim that because we live in a hi-tech society, people in manual
labor, or service industries, can't be paid more than what they are now.
Such is not true. In the last century, most of the workers were, what we
call today, blue-collar workers. Others were store clerks, etc. But they
made enough money to raise a big family. And that's without the wife
working at an outside job.
The fact is, that everybody has needs. Just because they don't have the
knowledge doesn't mean that the don't have the same desires and wants as
corporate executives, doctors and other professionals. The fact is that the
government is stealing all the money. With taxes and government regulations
on business the unskilled, and now, even the skilled worker doesn't make
enough to live on.
People 125 years ago, were able to buy a home with cash (after saving for
five years or so). The fact is, if the government operated the way they
should, and just got out of meddling with business, we can have the same
thing today. I am not saying that unskilled workers would get the same pay
as a skilled one, but it should be enough to support a family with several
children, and the wife not having to work. Wouldn't this be a wonderful
Well, Bob, I would just like to say, if you plan on coming to Moscow again,
and would like someone to organize your visit, make a phone call, or
whatever, let me know. I'll be glad to do it (free of charge, of course).
Keep up the good work, and God bless you and yours.
But Russia... What to do about Russia, I fretted, considering all the
stories about the rampant crime and corruption in that country?
Finally, I heard that a friend of my elder daughter's, a 22-year old woman
of non-Slavic ethnic background, but a Heartland America Christian who had
lived in Russia before, was going again to Russia in January of 1998 for a
two-week vacation. She kindly agreed to take the money, and to make sure
it reached the real needy, preferably some children or the elderly who
cannot help themselves, rather than end up in some institution's or
I also told this young lady, as I had told the Bishop earlier, that I
wanted the donation to be made anonymously, with a simple annotation -
"from an Orthodox Christian." After all, He whose son's birthday the
donation was intended to celebrate already knows everything.
Upon this young woman's return from Russia, in early Februiary, I received
her heartwarming report. It made my eyes water. I want to share it with
you - the Truth in Media readers, my spiritual friends - because her
account what happen was so uplifting; so "Christmassy." As long as there
are Christians in America like this fine young lady, there is a good chance
that Good will eventually prevail over the Evil even if the Evil seems to
have the upper hand right now.
This is what she wrote...
February 9, 1998
My trip was wonderful and it was hard to come back. St. Petersburg wins me
over every time. My mind is still on my vacation, so excuse my lengthy
explanation of where your money went. But I welcome the opportunity to
I think I found a wonderful place for your money and I hope that you will
feel the same. I'm well aware of, and have witnessed first hand, what too
often happens with well-intended, generous gifts when they fall into the
hands of the unscrupulous individuals. Suffice it to say that I was
concerned foremost that the money end up outside of a "director's pocket."
I have the good fortune of knowing a very good family in St. Petersburg and
from the minute I told them what I needed to do, no one sat still until it
was done. They are not naive either, and understood the importance of
finding a reliable place for the money. The mother of the family, Nina, is
a very religious individual and also considered the church. However, it
was her opinion that the Orthodox churches (at least in St. Pete) have "a
lot" of money right now.
Just to attest to that, I was surprised to see the progress of restoration
on a number of churches I had previously seen just a year ago. It was
then, the general consensus that the money could best be used by an
orphanage. I must admit that I also have a soft spot in my heart for
providing for the children of a struggling country since I taught in a
At any rate, that decided, we then thought it best to find an orphanage, go
and find out what was needed, and then make the purchases ourselves to be
sure that the money was not misused. Somewhere in between all of this I
took the elektrichkaya to Pushkin about 30 minutes from St. Petersburg
where Ekaterinskii Dvorets is located. As things happen in Russia, my
friends have an acquaintance there who was to serve as my LIVELY guide
around the city. This woman is about my grandmother's age but has as much
energy as I did when I was about 4. Truly a delightful woman. At any rate,
she knew of a place called "Aist" which means stork, that was a shelter of
sorts for children.
So after a freezing but inspiring jaunt around Pushkin, we went back to her
place to warm ourselves with some borshch and made a phone call. Over the
phone (three of us spoke to them in one call - you can imagine how amusing
this scene was: me, the American with sorry Russian skills and two
impatient Russian women telling each other and me what to say and then in
the end just grabbing the phone and saying it themselves). They seemed to
say all of the right things. However, in the end I wasn't satisfied and I
wanted to go there and see for myself.
Surprised at the ease with which we found this place (perhaps you've had
some experience of your own finding a Russian address!), we rang the
doorbell and were met minutes later by a young girl of about 8. She led
us to the director's office who received us eagerly. In the short walk
from the door to the office my eyes were checking out the place.
At the time, it was still unclear to me what exactly this place was (I
gathered it was more than an orphanage), but one things was clear, it was a
healthy environment for kids. We visited with the director, a very
energetic woman, for some time. She explained that all of the children
there have parents, but most of them were alcoholics or abusive or had
simply kicked their kids out onto the streets because they couldn't afford
to keep them at home.
We ended up staying there for a very long time and she shared a lot with
us, but since I'm at work and once I get started, I wouldn't stop, I'll
just share with you some of the things I thought to be very important and
different from a lot of "orphanage-type" establishments.
The kids are free to come and go on their own so that they do not feel as
though they are trapped there or that it is like a prison. The door is
always open to them when they want to come, when they need a hot meal, but
they retain a sense of freedom and independence - responsibility for
themselves, if you will.
Unlike lots of "shelters" this was much more than a roof over the kids'
heads. They provide enriching activities for the kids, encouraging
theater, painting, music, etc. etc. Which from what I can tell does much to
nurture a sense of pride and accomplishment. They celebrate birthdays,
holidays, etc - do the sorts of things a family would do.
They place the children at a new school in the city so that they are not
burdened by the stereotypes and judgements that were established with them
in their old schools.
They work to place the kids in some sort of job or internship after they
graduate from school.
They encourage the children to try to maintain a relationship with their
parents and even work to rehabilitate or find opportunities for the parents.
All of the furniture, etc. was donated much of it by the few staff that
work there. The are in desperate need of some renovation, but don't have
the money and as of yet, no one has offered. They survive mainly on
donations form what I understood. Currently there are 17 children there
and only space (beds) for 14. A lot of what makes the place bright (at
first it seemed to me that maybe this place wasn't in such bad shape and
didn't really need the money) is work that the children do themselves.
Pictures, crafts, etc. simple but with lots of heart.
To say the very least, I felt very good about leaving your money there.
For their official books they needed someone's name to put down, I gave
them mine and they indicated somehow that it wasn't actually from me.
Also, they have a very home-made sort of thank you that the kids sign and
it has the shelter's emblem on it (they had a contest among the kids to
draw the emblem). They filled out the certificate, I instructed them to
leave the name blank and that you would fill it in yourself.
They were truly grateful. I toured the place and met some of the kids -
it's a place where I'd love to tutor English if I end up spending some
substantial time in the Petersburg area. I took some pictures which I will
send you and was invited back to a concert if I come in the summer.
I also left my address as they thought they would write and let me know
exactly what the money was used for and hopefully send more pictures.
In short, it was one of the most fulfilling experiences I had on my short
trip to Russia. Thanks for providing me with the opportunity to do that.
If you have any other questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them, or get
the answers from my friends who were with me.
That's it. That was the end of one of the most uplifting letters I have
ever received. After all, Christmas is not about shopping. It's not about
fattening the merchants' pockets or our tummies. It's about the joy of a
very special baby boy being born. And we don't need to spend any money to
feel that, do we?
TRUTH IN MEDIA
Visit the http://www.truthinmedia.org/Truth in Media Web site for more
articles on geopolitical affairs.
email@example.com is an unmoderated mail list to discuss general government topics. To join or leave this list send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our world wide web site at http://www.uwsa.com
Support UWSA.COM at http://www.uwsa.com/UWSAintro.html