So am back, on home soil. Left moscow in the dark, it was SNOWING!!! amazing. Left with snow in my hair. Oh Russia.
What a trip. What a mad week in Moscow, living the life of Maria Sagalovich.
Spent the week – mostly drinking tea with the orphans in the old art studio of Marias which has become a kind of hub for the older ones to hang out, do theatre and painting and be together. It’s more difficult in a sense to connect on that level with no language. But we do. Being there for a whole week, by the end – I felt close to them, although we’d not exchanged so many words. Lots of loving eyes and hugs.
I also spent the week following and in awe of this man.
Guilaume Vermette, such an inspiration.. This man can make eating soup the funniest thing on earth in that moment. There is not a dull moment around him. And i spent most of my time laughing at him being stupid with the kids. He has been clowning worldwide for many years, entertaining children from all walks of life. He has also been following Maria for many years and it is because of him that I am here. He’s been an inspiration to me in so many ways. Great clown, great friend, I know we have many years ahead of us working together.
I was greeted at the airport by him in a tutu. With Macha – one of the older orphans, whom was mortified she had to travel with him like that. Everywhere he goes smiles are rife.
You can’t take him anywhere.
So I just spent the week at Marias annex of her ‘dasha’ (no idea about spelling here), built specially to host lots of orphans and art teachers. benches and tables and boxes full of colourful creative bits.
It’s hard to put into words all that Maria’s children does for the orphans in Moscow.
To start…. the orphans situation in Russia is awful. up to 1 million orphans in Moscow. 1 million!!!!!! and they live mostly in horrible environments.. there have been many documentaries and you can find some horrible photos online about how they live. Guilaumme described his experiences to me. That was enough for me.
The major problems here are that the children grow with learning and developmental disabilities, they are unemployable and by 18 have no prospects. Of corse the biggest problem is that are sad and lonely.
Maria has two studios in Moscow-
They are cheerful, colorful, buzzing and cozy places to be. Everyone’s doing something arty and drinking tea and eating biscuits. One studio is for the olders ones the other for younger children.
<We did a day of clay and performed for this crew. There were just 4 orphans here from the special needs orphanage. >
So via Maria’s children – hundreds of orphans have a regular place to go. Somewhere with wonderful teachers of every subject, friendly faces and good food. Somewhere that feels like family.
The older orphans – now in their late 20’s – 30’s – that have been part of the family since they were young.. are now working for maria’s children. They go on trips all together.. like this weekend – 15 orphans & Maria will be at the Shakespeare festival in Stratford-upon-avon performing! I will join them there.
So that’s a little of what Maria does in Moscow.
Today it’s Maria’s childrens 23rd birthday <3 happy birthday !!
I found the whole experience overwhelming.
I was exhausted after my experiences in Beslan.
Russia was also quite a culture shock.
I never drank one sip of Vodka!!! shame on me. I did eat beetroot soup though!
As Guillaume said, we were like troubadours, living it up in a rich ladies house and performing on request! :o)
Well fed.. well looked after. Riding on the whims of Maria. But what a pleasure. What a woman. What a beautiful insight into Russia.
Will update you after the Shakespeare festival.