Treasures of the Heart

Providing Humanitarian Aid for Orphans, Sick Children, and Children in Need.
Russia, Republic of Georgia, Sri Lanka, India, and Haiti

Contact Us:  (409) 898-1937
Email Updates - 2009
Christmas in Russia, 2005

Donna subscribes to an internet forum on Russian adoption. She is always snooping and investigating. There was a particular letter that caught her attention. It spoke of an orphanage in Tikhvin. Tikhvin is a small town northeast of St. Pete.

Last year, Donna was sick, real sick, when we left England for Vladimir. She never left the hotel while we were in Russia. This year, she behaved a little better. She waited until we left Vladimir to get sick.

So, there we were in St. Pete, snowy, cold, looking at a 7-8 hour van ride to Tikhvin. And Donna was sick, again. We decided Tikhvin was out for her. Vitaly and I would go, Stephanie would stay and take care of Donna. Bob and Richard would take a city tour. We had a plan.

Now, the trip to Tikhvin was an interesting one. The good news, it turned out to be 4 hours. The, well, not really bad news, once we left St. Pete, the two-lane highway was mostly marked by tracks in the ice or snow. The farther out we went, the less asphalt we saw, or drove on.

Vitaly had made a couple of previous trips to Tikhvin to do some research. Fortunately, they are pretty well funded. In fact, they are much better funded than any we’ve been to. They have adequate food and clothing. The director had asked for water heaters, a room heater for the isolation room, beds, and chairs for the toddlers to sit at their little tables. Vitaly was able to purchase the water heaters and room heater on an earlier trip.

An interesting thing happens in Russia. From January 1, through the 10th, it’s a workman’s holiday. Retail is open, but supply houses are not. So…no furniture for now. Vitaly will follow up on that for us. In the meantime, we took a bunch, and I mean a bunch, of toys. We took dolls, doll buggy, cars, play kitchen with play foods and accessories, and so forth. There were, also, some very good quality wooden educational toys for the toddlers.

All this took the director, Sergey, a little off guard. I explained Treasures and how Donna found him. He said he was puzzled as to how we had found him, he was glad to have the mystery unraveled.

From the looks of things, it appears Treasures will probably not have sufficient reason for a long term relationship with Tikhvin. Task finished, Vitaly and I returned to St. Pete.

Transportation is a real experience in Russia. Believe it or not, when it’s just the Barlows and Blackstones, we usually use “gypsy” cabs. Virtually every car in Russia is a taxi. Some are licensed, some are, well…not.

So far, we’ve done well hailing taxis and getting around. There was one exception you can read about on our website.  Coming back from Tikhvin, Vitaly and I went to the train station to hire a taxi.  It turned out be just as cheap to get a van, so we opted for the extra space.

The driver wanted 3000 rubles, about $110, up front. I handed Vitaly 3 1000 ruble bills. I told him to give the driver two now, the other when we get there. Off we went.

About three hours into the trip, the driver told Vitaly he didn’t know where our hotel was. In fact, he didn’t know St. Petersburg. Vitaly said he would direct him. When we got into St. Pete, the driver stopped at the first Metro station (subway) he saw. He said that was as far as he would go, as he was afraid he would get lost trying to find his way back out of town. Such is travel in Russia.

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