If you’d like to wish friends and colleagues happy holidays while simultaneously donating to a good cause, a number of local charities are ready to help. Downside Up, which aids children with Down syndrome, and MiraMed, an orphanage aid institute, both sell cards with drawings by Moscow children. SOS Children’s Villages International, a sponsor of five centers for disadvantaged children in Russia, offers Christmas-themed postcards. Nature lovers can send cards featuring Siberian tigers and leopards, and AMUR will spend the proceeds to protect the endangered cats. Whichever you choose, the ones you care about will know you care about someone else too. AMUR: Write Sharon Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click "Shopping" to view the cards at www.amur.org.uk; Diema’s Dream: Write Mary Dudley at email@example.com; Downside Up: One of their 20 card designs is pictured here; write Irina Menshenina at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 951 0079; MiraMed Institue: Click "How you can help" to view the cards at www.miramedinstitute.org, or call 730 0064; SOS Children’s Village: Call Marina Anoshina at 718 9918 or e-mail email@example.com.
A Real Lifesaver
You’ve locked yourself out of your flat in the middle of the night. You got in a car accident and your Russian isn’t good enough to handle the police officer or the irate owner of the Mercedes you’ve just wrecked. There’s good news. Two services, Lifeline Response and Europ Assistance, now offer 24-hour emergency assistance for expatriate families. Lifeline, started recently by a group of former bodyguards, provides English-speaking operators as a client’s first point of contact. Depending on the situation, they’ll send assistance — an emergency response team if you’re being hassled by the police, or a reliable plumber if your bathroom floods from a burst pipe. Europ Assistance offers similar services, and even a 24-hour hairdresser for that 3am hair emergency. More info about Lifeline available from Dean Welch at 245 4387 and Europ Assistance at www.europ-assistance.ru.
What does one do with puss or pooch when it’s time to go home for Christmas or take that holiday, and the four-legged family members can’t come along? Moscow’s “pet hotels” are of uneven standard. One way out is to contact Dr. Yuri Shishmaryov, a vet, and his English-speaking wife, Valeria. They take cats and dogs into their loving care and look after them with their own two cats. They also have a number of reliable friends who will take in animals for short stays. For cats the cost is five dollars a day, as long as you provide food and cat litter, seven dollars if you don’t. For dogs, it’s ten dollars if you provide the food, one to three dollars more if you don’t, the price depending on the size and appetite of your pooch. Yuri and Valeria will also pick up and return your pet free of charge. Book as far in advance as possible and, of course, ensure that your pet is fully up to date with all the usual jabs and has been wormed recently. Call 200 0388 (home) or 8 501 439 3956 (mobile). Even if Yuri and Valeria can’t house your pets, they may be able to find you a reliable, honest person to look after them at your own home.