Ekaterina’s Steel Wall

Ekaterina is a five-year old force at the orphanage. Her impish grin and adventurous spirit immediately attract. Like most of the children, a good helicopter ride makes her day. Spinning a child around by their hands produces pure joy on each face. Providing multiple revolutions of spinning bliss is something I pride myself in. If only for a few moments, these kids can forget everything in the rush of a true moment of pure childhood. Of course one ride is never enough, and in the mind of an orphan, waiting your turn will get you NOTHING, so way wait? Crowding and clamoring for another go is the only way to go. Have you hung out with orphans? They don’t accept “no” for an answer. Especially Ekaterina. And reasoning with Ekaterina? Hah! She had a ride and was ready, no, insistent for more. So insistent in fact, that she hung on to me like a buckin’ bronc rider who never heard of the eight second rule, impeding all helicopter rides. When that didn’t work, she started hitting me! I kneeled down to speak with Ekaterina, but stop was one more word that did not apply. Her unrewarded persistence was disappointing, and in her disappointment she decided that I had offended her. Her tears tugged at my heart.
But then came her silence, weeks of silence . . . months of silence. Each week when I spent time with the kids, I tried to break through Ekaterina’s wall of aggrievement. But when she saw me coming, she ably deployed my status of non-existence. I won’t lie, it hurt. Ekaterina is a great girl, and felt I had made a good connection with her. I was also impressed with the tenacity of her commitment to my non-existence; she is five after all. So I bided my time, gave all the other kids helicopter rides, searched for spiders with some of the boys, climbed the jungle gym, pushed the merry-go-round, helped color, played catch, tried to bless the lives of the kids.
Two steely months in Ekaterina informed me of my re-existence when she suddenly wanted to fish. Sometimes the kids liked to throw a line, which I would catch, and pretend to be a leaping hooked fish. They really got a charge from that game. Ekaterina boldly appeared and claimed her turn as fisherwoman. Not surprisingly, she caught me, after which I paraded around the playground with Ekaterina laughing on my back, as if nothing ever happened.

The events of this post took place in the Spring/Summer of 2013.

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2 thoughts on “Ekaterina’s Steel Wall

  1. ALex and Yula, are you back, any decisions as to what is next? prayer requests? Are you at Yula’s mothers? Is her sister and husband and family there as before? prayed for you on Monday. diana

    • Dear Diana, we are back in Ulan-Ude for the time being. What that means is, I have applied to a Masters program at Montana State University to study indigenous culture. It seems to be a good direction for me, and I feel I need some academic backup to be able to advocate for native people here in Siberia. Since for the most part I already know what I need to know it should be not terribly difficult, and hopefully fun. My photography has been helping me meet people here in Buryatia I otherwise would not meet. I was just at Altargana, an International Festival for the Buryat people, and I ended up being a guest of the main organizer, who is a former member of parliment in Mongolia! We really appreciate your care and concern. I did go through a difficult time this last year, trying to figure out direction. I was quite down for awhile, but now that I do have direction, things are much better. I am waiting to hear back on my application to Grad school, so you can lift that up. All my best, Alex

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