Update on K & S (and the effects of your support).
First off, I spoke with K & S and they prefer being referred to as "devotchki" (girls). This is a personal preference, a diminuitive distinct from any feminist/mysognist horse corpse you might enjoy beating here. From here on out, they will be called "the girls". It's OK, with them.
I'll start with now: the girls have returned to Moscow. They are safe with their boyfriends and families.
This is, in my opinion, the most important thing I can share here. This "end" is a direct result of what happened on MetaFilter. It is the best-of-a-mess-of-bad-outcomes. It is the sum of your, mine, and Kathrine's efforts. It is something we can all be proud of, something worth sharing, worth celebrating. Thank you so much. I will never be able to thank you, and that's not overstating things.
Since the last MeTa thread was closed, a lot has happened. I will try to retell it more or less chronologically, in as much detail as I can without further endangering or identifying anyone who has not explicitly given permission.
1. Many people have contributed since the original threads were closed. This help has come in the form of legal representation, quality advice, resume writing, and even just hanging out and having fun. This was not lost on the girls -- they were deeply impressed at this outpouring of support, and that's not even mentioning me, Kathrine, the girls families, and so on. It was, frankly, beyond belief.
2. Kathrine housed them for the duration. They had a nice, cozy room with internet access. They were safe, had as much privacy and supervision as they could handle, and were generally jazzed about NYC. Plenty to eat, drink, and see while searching for suitable jobs and another place to stay. Lots of fun
was had, in between bouts of anxiety about jobs, money, and self-support -- making things work as they'd planned.
3. Many, many people asked friends, family, and coworkers for help in finding work. While no offer ended up working out as we'd hoped, this generous gesture, situated against the background of the destitute job market in NYC, was something really amazing. Not everything needs to work out as planned to be worth more than words.
4. Thanks to the generosity of many MeFites, I was able to visit K & S
. I spent the weekend at Kathrine's in their guest bunk (I met Kathrine! She is wonderful!). We didn't announce a meetup publicly because we didn't want the press, or worse, to show up there. There was a super-minimal meetup (Kathrine, her husband, myself, the girls, and a NYC native who helped). There would have been more were it not for the holiday weekend, but that's how things go. I can't even tell you how much this time with K & S meant to me. It was so emotional -- both to see them safe, and to feel that the friendship between K and I had only grown stronger, well, it was amazing after a four-year absence. We (K, S, and I) actually spent most of the weekend walking up and down NYC, just as we had in Russia, talking about everything that happened. The intense sense of camaraderie and friendship, multiplied by the re-awakening of my Russian language (I taught K English, and she taught me Russian) was something really special. While S continued to have language problems, by the end of her stay, K had really reached a new level of English-speaking skill. As her former teacher, I felt a bit of pride over that.
Together, we all saw the Atlantic for the first time
on Coney Island
. We spent a lot of time sitting in the grass on Chelsea Pier
, not saying or doing much, rather, soaking up sun and feeling safe and, for a few hours at least, not having much to stress about.
5. As job offers and housing possibilities began to look more and more remote, the girls decided to return to Moscow. Though this decision was painful for all of us, it, in the end, was the right thing to do. They bought plane tickets with some of the donated money (as their other tickets could not be changed) and spent a last few days enjoying what they could of NYC. We talked a lot on the phone, about the future, about what happened, about the Internet. We had some long goodbyes via sms, over the phone, over email.
I'd say at this point they know what MetaFilter is, and understand what happened here as well as any outsider can. They wrote you a letter, and asked me to put it here:
Мы попали в сложную ситуацию, много с чем пришлось столкнуться.. Одни, в чужой стране, без денег и надежды на завтра. Мы уже готовы были сдаться, вернуться назад, чувствовали себя одинокими в Америке..
Да нас было настолько удивительно что люди так быстро откликнулись на просьбу о помощи, что мы сначала даже не поверили что это правда. Было пролито много слёз в те дни, но самые "сильные" из них были слёзы благодарности.
В начале мы не хотели оставаться, а теперь не хотим уезжать.. Как же сильно мы не хотим уезжать!!! Мы любим эту страну, людей, каждую часть вашего мира.
Сейчас наши последние часы в Нью-Йорке.. Завтра мы уже будем далеко за океаном и пусть мы не знаем ваших имен, но вашу помощь и поддержку мы не забудем никогда.
Ещё раз огромное спасибо, берегите себя и будьте счастливы.
К и С
Translation (FYI, they were OK with my translation)
Thank you so much.
We got into a difficult situation, it was a lot to face. Alone, in a foreign country, without money or hope for tomorrow. We felt alone in America, were already ready to surrender and go back.
To us it was so surprising that people so quickly responded to the request for help that at first we just didn't believe it was true. There were a lot of tears then, but the "strongest" of them were tears of gratitude.
At first, we didn't want to stay, but now, we don't want to leave. How we don't want to leave!!! We love this country, people, every part of your world.
Now are our last few hours in New York. Tomorrow, we'll be far across the ocean and although we don't know your names, we will never forget your help and support.
Once again, thank you so much, take care and be happy.
K and S.
That pretty much says it. The remaining detail was money -- all leftover money was donated to Equality Now
and another organization that wishes to stay out of the spotlight. Equality Now is an amazing organization and was a guiding hand throughout. I am so glad we could give a little back to them.
It may seem strange to some of you that many organizations (and their people) involved with this want to remain anonymous, or refuse to speak publicly, but as I learned from the girls' lawyer, for many support organizations, they feel very strongly that interfacing with the press and public is not only a poor use of time, and an abuse of privacy, it endangers the trust they must foster between victims and themselves. Many women do not want their situation broadcast anywhere, for good reason. Many people have asked about what the level of actual danger was -- with all evidence I have, even I believe it was high, and required action, and all agencies and organizations "agreed" with me in the way that they immediately got involved and took action (& continue to take action).
While I wish these agencies would report back to me with what they know, unfortunately that's not how they work. Since the only other way to know "for sure" would be for the girls to be harmed, well... no. To the skeptics: keep in mind, too, the kind of trouble I'd be in if I made this up.
As for me, Kathrine, and all involved, again, thank you. Thank you.