What do the official figures say?

Well, as of 20 April these are;

Tatarstan:  reported cases 230, 0 deaths
Russia as a whole:  reported cases 52,763, 456 deaths

A growing chorus of voices around the world are questioning the credibility of this data, especially given such a low volume of  confirmed deaths.  The volume of reported new cases has been significantly on the rise over the past 2 weeks.

The majority of recorded cases are in Moscow.  Deputy mayor Anastasia Rakova believes ‘The peak in morbidity should arrive in the next two to three weeks’.

What’s the latest in Kazan, Tatarstan’s capital and home to the Eurasian Mission College?

A snippet of life in Kazan (news article by Railya Mutigullina in Kazansky Vedomosti):

I have never seen Kazan this empty in the 14 years that I have lived in this city. The streets used to be bustling this time of the day, traffic was usually quite bad, people rushing by in a hurry. Today, however, the streets are empty. You can hardly see a person moving from their apartment block to a food store or a pharmacy, and hurrying back again.

Public transport is still working but is unusually empty. When you leave a bus you begin to look around uneasily, expecting a police patrol to stop you and ask why you have ventured outside. I have to admit that, even thought I have a permit allowing me to move around freely to do my work, I am still quite uncomfortable.

There is a retailer that has provided special hours on particular days of the week for food shopping for the elderly. Everybody else can only go into their stores in the other hours and days. Besides, the cahsiers see to it that customers stand 1.5 meters from another in the line. They have put red tape on the floor showing you where to stand.

The services that are still working are: medical institutions, law enforcement, road maintenance, housing and communal services, food stores, pharmacies, the media and other essencial services that have to maintain the life of a city with population over a million. Road services are doing their seasonal job cleaning the roads and taking our the garbage. Planters continue to plant trees, street cleaners take care of their territories.

What about at the College?  The college principal writes…

The College is facing a few difficult tasks. We need to protect the health and well-being of our students and the team and to continue the learning process in spite of all the limitations. We had to self-isolate to be safe. Students can only leave the building to buy medicines, food, or throw away the garbage. We have added disinfection to our regular cleaning routines and provided everyone with additional hygienic means. Body temperature is taken every day for every student and worker. An isolated room is prepared in case someone begins to show signs of sickness. We provide instruction in safety measures in this period. The team members spend limited hours in the office. A schedule has been made to make sure we provide normal functioning of the College. All team members have to use personal transport to get to work.

A student watching a lecture on his smartphone in his room

There are police patrols and posts on the roads leading into Kazan. They stop everyone to find those who are breaking the rules of isolation. They ask everyone in the car to show a document or a text code giving them the right to travel. Because of this we have provided every team member with documents allowing them to come to work. The workers who are at home are always to be available so that we can solve all the issues online because we want to continue the academic process while we still can.

There are some additional difficulties with the curriculum because none of our foreign teachers can come from their countries (USA, UK, Germany, Kazakhstan and Ukraine are all closed because of the quarantine). We had to change the curriculum quickly. Moreover, there are limitations on the movements inside our own country. Our teachers from other regions of Russia also have a problem coming because of the road posts in every city. We have decided to cover the need by ourselves. The curriculum is filled until mid-April, and then we have student mission for three weeks. So, we now have over a month to fill the curriculum for the rest of the year.

There are many problems with our final student mission. It is too difficult to go to the cities we had planned to go to. We are still hoping we can send students with Russian citizenship to another city. However, students from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan cannot go to other places because it is impossible to provide registration for them in a new place. We now have more questions about the student mission than answers. The situation is changing quickly and quite unpredictably.

What can students do while on student mission, and how are they going to move around? We are thinking about getting them into volunteer service. In that case, they will have a permission to travel around the city and visit people and take care of their needs. We don’t quite understand how it all works, though. The mechanisms are not thought through yet, there are so many questions about how things should be done now, but we have the Bible, and we are trying to be helpful in this strange time. We hope to read the Bible with unbelievers.

As for our second-year students that have to have a session in May, we have made some changes in the plan. No changes for our Russian students, but the foreigners (e.g. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) will have to be educated online. There is a good option – a free online seminary based elsewhere in Russia. In May the students will also defend their term papers in video sessions and will have to get their diplomas by mail.

PLEASE PRAY:

  1. For real wisdom for the college leadership as they seek to continue the student’s training, make it effective as possible, whilst also keeping the students and staff safe and abiding by Government guidelines
  2. That the college environment will be kept ‘virus-free’ with special protection from the Lord
  3. Praise God for the private yard area at the back of the college building where students can play football, and just get out in the fresh air!
  4. If possible and suitable, the students may be able to do volunteer work and show the ‘love of Christ’ in action, and share about their faith in Christ

Thank you for your on-going prayers and support.