Saturday, 30 May 2009

GX Week 8

Monday 11th May

I shouldn't have made this blog so public. I can't write about half the stuff I want to. My closest friend will have to have a six month reading from my diary when I return. This evening I was struck by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme 'Lost in Care'. I thought it would be good to watch as my volunteering at Catch 22 involves working with a number of young people who have been or are in care. You see these programmes all the time but because they have never touched your life they do not feel 100% real. This time it did and it was quite upsetting. I'm 22 and I still need my mum. At 16 the state virtually abandons children in care. There is no one single person who will always be there for them. I remember a quote from somewhere, 'the state makes an awful parent.'

Tuesday 12th May

Got annoyed again and the new teacher and one of the learners had a show down at work.

Wednesday 13th May

Have starting trying to back my the teacher more, earning myself the title 'inspector' to her 'officer'. Its not the most offensive thing I've ever been called. Talked to Gulnara about going home for the weekend but she isn't sure about so it. She said she would think about it and tell me tomorrow. I hope she agrees. I have tried to think of things that she would like to do such as going to the seaside (as KZ is landlocked most of the Kazakhs have never seen the sea) and riding the horses.

Thursday 14th May

Catch 22 was pretty quiet today apart form one of the learners telling anyone who would listen about his taster day in Colchester with the army. I got annoyed when the same person would not engage in a session on self-esteem and body image saying that it relevant to him. A strange thing for someone to day who has strong opinions on girls not wearing too much make up and old lady's clutching their bags to them as he goes past. Went african drumming nd dancing in the evening with Ilma while Gulnara slept at home. When we got back I asked her again if she would like to go to my house next weekend and joy, she agreed.

Friday 15th May

Grace and Aigera's GCD on the role of women in society. First as usual we started with some definitions. 'Sex refers to our biological differences' and 'Gender refers to socially constructed roles given to people on the basis of their sex'. Next in our gender and our nationality groups (e.g. Kazakh women, UK men) we drew a typical woman. The majority drew their woman showing two or more sides, work and family. The Kazakh girls drew their woman at four different stages throughout her life. Rory and Ben (the remaining UK boys) drew a working woman doing the family shopping. Rory especially said that he was worried about the task, believing that whatever they drew could be taken the wrong way. He talked about a 'male guilt'. After this task we competed in teams in a quiz on famous and successful women and then designed role plays around gender discrimination, portraying a 'manny', the promotion of a man over a better qualified woman in the work place and a mother doing everything in the home while the husband just watches television. We then watched a film about domestic violence from Women's Aid featuring Keira Knightley (link) which was particularly effective and ended with the message that two women die every week as a result of domestic violence. Following this we looked at statistics on domestic violence in the UK and Kazakhstan from Women's Aid and the World Health Organisation and some case studies from Women's Aid on domestic abuse.

Women who have experienced domestic violence

UK - 1 in 4

KZ - 1 in 2

The percentage of women who seek help

UK - 23-35%

KZ - 14%

The number of deaths as a result of domestic violence in 2005

UK - 104

KZ - 504

The types of abuse

UK - Emotional 38%, Physical 28%, Stalking 23% and Sexual 16%

KZ - Physical 66%, Emotional 27% and Sexual 7%

Following lunch we took part in a practical exercise in gender discrimination with the boys tyding the hall and washing up while the girls talked about some ideas for the community farewell. When we finished the boys received one sweet each while the girls shared the rest of the sweets and a bar of chocolate. The point of this was to demonstrate the fact that women do 66% of the worlds work but receive only 10% of the worlds earnings. It was interesting for me to observe the peer pressure from teh other girls on whose girls who tried to share their sweets and chocolate with the boys. Next we drew diagrams showing the percentages of women and men in different roles in our volunteer placements and previous work places. In general we saw that the voluntary sector is dominated by women and a disproportionate number of men in higher managerial positions in both countries. Then we looked at some more statistics.

(Women shown as a percentage of men, so if there are 100 men, what is the equivalent number of women?)

Adult Literacy

UK - ? (the UK apparently no longer measures literacy in the adult population under the assumption that everyone can read and write)

KZ - 99

Primary School Attendance

UK - 100

KZ - 99

Secondary School Attendance

UK - 117

KZ - 100

% Gender Pay Gay

UK - 12.8 median
17 mean

KZ - 15

Number of Males and Females in Employment (millions)

UK - 12.8 Male
12.7 Female

KZ - 3.8 Male
3.3 Female

Careers that significantly more women follow

UK - Administration and Secretarial, Healthcare, Social Work, Hairdressing and Cleaning

KZ - Healthcare, Social Work, Hotel and Resturant Work and Education

Saturday 16th May

Adventures in Cambridge. We set off for Cambridge an hour later than planned as the no.3 bus did not turn up. Then we to run from the 510 bus stop to Bishop's Stortford train station which I found near impossible (I've got so unfit since finishing uni). After we arrived in Cambridge I put the others onto the bus to the town center and then waited at the train station with Gulnara for some mystery parents of a friend of hers to arrive. After a while Gulnara's phone rang and as she tried to explain what she was wearing a petite older lady with mid-lenght grey hair appeared clutching a phone to her ear. We headed for the car and made our introductions. The woman's name was Sue and it transpired that her daughter (Corin) works as a phsiotherapist in Shymkent with Gulnara. I introduced myself and briefly explained the basics of the GX programme, so as to explain what I was doing with Gulnara. After parking in a side street we walked past the library and around the backs. We has just crossed the river after stopping to take photos of Gulnara on the bridge to send to Corin and were heading into the town center when we ran straight into the rest of the group coming round the corner accompanied by a punt tout (as I shall call them). As Gulnara had already expressed a desire to go punting we arranged to join them. The whole experince was very pleasing (nice weather, the gentle lapping of the water against the side of the boat, young men with good strong arms...) until towards the end of the journey we came upon a pair of swans with several chicks and discovered to out horror that the chicks were getting hit by the punts and turned over. Some were able to right themselves but others were not so strong and were drowning. It was horrible but I was inclined to leave them, believing they'd had it. Especially as the parents had retreated with their remaining brood, abandoning them. Yet Sue decided that she would fish them out of the water. After a brief struggle for life the first one died the second however, after coughing up an amount of water started to look brighter. And so we became stuck with one dead and one live baby swan and no idea what to do with them. Upon departing the punts the rest of the team met with various friends they knew living in Cambridge for a walkign tour while we set off to attempt to reunite the live baby with its parents. Personally I had reservations believing that the parents might reject and even kill it, or attack us! Sue swapped the live swan for the dead one with Gulnara who was rather distressed by its death but then struggled to keep the now rather active and vocal baby hidden. I worried that people would think that we had taken it while Sue wanted to avoid being given any more 'helpful' advice. We knew that the swans were nesting at John's College, managing to access it through a building site and ending up in an accommodation area that we clearly shouldn't have been in. Luckily the security guard that we encountered at the gates to the river was understanding and showed us to the swans nest. Yet again the baby stuck out its head and began chirping. To which the swan on the nest immediately reacted. While I stayed back Sue, the security guard and Gulnara released the baby into the water where it swam directly to the nest and was thankfully welcomed back by its mother (or father). Now we were just left with a dead baby swan which we were to carry around Cambridge for the rest of the day. I know its awful but this I found to be morbidly funny. It accompanied us into a resturant for lunch in what I assume was a blantant violation of health and safety laws, and into the Kettle's Yard museum and gallery, where you are obliged to leave coats and bags at the enterance. As the woman reached out offering to hang up the coat Sue was clutching the image flashed into my mind of her taking it and a dead baby swan tumbling to the floor to everyones horror. Luckily the coat ended up stored safely in the cupboard with the bags. Inside the gallery I saw a girl that I thought I recognised from my first primary school who I have not seen since I was 6 years old. I hesitated at first but then went back and asked her. It turned out that I was correct and that she had also recognised me. I guess the recent pictures on facebook helped us out. We briefly caught up on the last 16 years and then once again parted ways. The three of us then headed back to Sue's house which turned out to be a lovely old cottage on the outskirts of Cambridge with a rich history as an ale house and which she now runs as a B&B. We enjoyed a hot drink in the summer house and then helped Sue do some planting in the Garden. I trusted myself just to do the watering but even then Gulnara would not let me loose with a hose pipe near the seedlings. After dinner and a shower we settled down to watch the Eurovision Song Contest with Gulnara getting increasingly annoyed with Norway's success and insisting that his excellent Russia pronunciation meant he was secretly a Russian and had probably bribed the judges. During this I flicked through Sue's many interesting books on foriegn countries. She turned out to be a very interesting individual. Born in Africa, she studied at Cambridge where she met her husband. They then spent 12 years living in Pakistan returning to the UK in the 1990s.

The baby swan reunited with its mother (or father?)

Sunday 17th May

Went to Sue's 'Community Church'. This church was situated within an old warehouse but clearly enjoyed more funding than the Harlow Mosque complete as it was with sound system and overhead projection amoung other things. It also had the largest and youngest congregration I have ever seen. Back at the house we were joined by Sue's friend Kate and her friend Beauty who were both from Zimbabwe for lunch. After lunch we all went for a walk in some woods on the outskirts of Cambridge followed by tea and cake. Back in Bishops Stortford we joined the others at Anne-Maire and Nina's host home for a BBQ before rushing, as always, for the last bus.

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