Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Feet inspections

Wow! The training course has been completed! 24 participants took part in the three day training on Volunteer Systems Management with the lead trainer coming from VSO London. Behind the scenes there was stress and late nights reworking whole elements of the course but (I hope) the participants were none the wiser and a tailored course was delivered. There were lots of jokes along the way and it was a really fun week. I managed to get myself on TV a few times in a Richard and Judy style interviews about volunteering and what the course was about cementing my fame in the Kostani Oblast!

To unwind after the conference all the training team went to the aqua park in Kostani. I had not been there before but have been past the outside and it looked great. We paid for our ticket and then were told to go through and get changed but to keep some money with us for our foot inspection. We proceeded through to the changing rooms where the security guard from the front doors and the attendant watched us get changed under our towels before pointing us in the direction of the changing cubicles. Then it was time for the foot exam which was a lot less rigorous than I expected. It involved you paying your 50 tenge and receiving a bit of paper with a stamp saying you have clean feet and then heading into the swimming pool. The doctor did not so much as look at our feet (nor anyone else’s for that matter) but as I have not picked anything up that I am aware of I guess it is a good deterrent for people with skanky feet if nothing else.

The new volunteer for Kostani, Hilary, and another volunteer, Selina, from Almaty came back with me to Zhitikara to have a look around, meet the people I have been working with and see what work I have been doing. I have been looking forward to having guests down because I like showing off my town. The journey was seemingly uneventful and pleasant (even the token drunk was entertaining the bus in a jovial way for about two hours by talking to us in Kazakh and German) until a kid throw up just centimetres from out bags about 10 minutes before the end of the five hour journey. Heart was served for lunch and the temperature was down to -27 as we trudged around town so all in all the elements of a memorable visit were there especially as we made it to victory park to see all the monuments in the town covered in snow (it is the first time I have been there since the summer), the kids in the orphanage sung Selina happy birthday in English and we went out for the nicest meal I have had in Kazakhstan in the newly opened Azerbaijani restaurant (although strangely all Azeri food was off the menu yesterday which would seem to make the place more of a Kazakh restaurant than a Azeri)

Glad to be back but just realised there are only three weeks left until I leave Zhitikara and I seem to have committed myself to about 101 things to do before I go. Looks like a busy time ahead!


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