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Alcoholics Anonymous history in your area
Historical insights in a
Letter from Marina, a member of AA in Russia

Barbara in the UK has been corresponding with a Russian AA woman named Marina. She can't join the buffs for reasons explained in her letters, but has given us permission to share them with you.

This is her first letter:

Good day, Barbara!

I can't answer you letter in moment. It takes some more time for me to read and write in English, when in Russian.

But it is one more reason for delay. I took part in very interesting thing in our AA. We name it "avtoprobeg" - it means, that on 30th of April 7 cars start from one Russian town (Tolyatty). They pass over 3000 kilometers - Ural (this is a Russian region on the border of Europe and Asia). Every day - new town, meetings this members of AA of this towns. During the way from one town to another (it took nearle 4-5 hours) - groups in the cars. It was wonderful. I was waiting this trip the whole year. I was very afraid, that something may happen and I could not take part in this journey. But High Power gave me such happy opportunity.

It is very difficult for me to tell in English about this trip. It is difficult yet in Russian - I haven't words. I met my friends (some members of AA from this towns I had meet in Moscow during last years). I saw problems of AA in deep Russian regions. I saw, how AA grow there. We visited 7 towns of Ural. And 2 and 3 years ago I was in 2 of this towns. Were was the all-Russian Convention in this towns (in 1997 - Magnitogorsk, and in 1998 - Glazov). It was difficult decision for Russian AA - to organize such all-Russian conventions not in Moscow, there we can gather more people, then in such small towns. But we think: this Convention will help AA in this regions to grow.

Today, then I visit this towns second time - I saw: it was write decision. I saw results of our work 2 or 3 years ago.

So, I returned home very weary (we sleep nearly for 3-4 hours at night during this journey), but very happy.

Now I'll try to write for your letter. [Barbara's news letter.]

About history of Russian AA and archive documents. We are nearly 13 years old - but we have problems this our history. The first problem - we don't exactly know data of beginning. In particular - beginning of Moscow AA. There was many debates about this 3 years ago - and for today we don't decide, then Moscow AA began - in 1987 or in 1998. Different people have different opinions. Today we say, that Russian AA is 13, because it is the age of St. Peterburg group AA "Almaz"(December 1996). I don't know for today the eldest group.

Many documents is keeping at homes of some members of AA. Only year ago we began to take such archives to office. But we have problems - how to keep them. But the main problem - I don't know a men (or woman) for today, who want to work this archives. For today we only put this documents in boxes - but I understand - it needs more serious work.

I know one man - he try to fix events in Russian AA. But he live not in Moscow. Month ago I get from him document, it name "Chronicle of events of Russian AA" (4 pages). And this is nearly all, that we have for today about our history. No, we have some more documents - registration sheets of Russian groups (since 1995), documents of Conferences from 9 to 12 (12 was in this year). We have no documents from Conferences 1st, 2nd, 3rd. We have only decisions from Conferences from 4th to 8th.

But I think - such problems are not only in Russian AA. It is reality. Perhaps, we began to think about our history not too late.

About Russian office of AA. It is in Moscow, not in the center - on the fringe of Moscow. It consist of two small rooms. We have xerox, two computers, and some more equipment. What we do there? Prepare AA books (3 main books) to printing. (But print them not in office). Prepare booklets and make copies on Xerox. Unswerving service (telephone), e-mail contacts. 3 time during year we send to all Russian groups (nearly 210 for today) letters this some information about "AA life" (the analog of BOX), materials on Service.

Purpose: group consciousness must be informed.

I may tell many detail about work in office, but it is detail. It is every day work to help people find AA, to help them understand not only one word (recovery) but 3 important words (Unity - Service - Recovery). This is my way too - I understand, that I need service to stay sober. For last 2 years, before I had need to go to another town (this is family situation) - I worked in office as volunteer - two or tree evenings and all Saturday. But today I think - it was the happiest time for last 20 years of my life.

We have 2 workers in office, who get money for theirs work: secretary and accountant. We can't pay them enough money - Russian AA doesn't have mush money for today. But they do work - and this is not a work of volunteer.

The main problem for today in Russian AA - we have not state registration.

This gives many juridical and organization problems. And for today this question is open. It is a great problem.

About your another questions. I have never been in England. I have never been in any foreign country. Last year I was elected a delegate to European Service Meeting (it was in October). All was good, I get documents, but+ In august I was informed, that my mother have cancer. She has died. It is a reason, that I go from Moscow to a small town (I have need to live with my father for today). But I can't get to Service Meeting in October.

How I learn English? A specialized school in childhood. Then I forgot many. But then I came to AA - I began to work this materials in English - made translation, correct translations of another people. Then I began to work this e-mail. And I have to answer for letters from another countries - this help me to "remember" English. I don't think my English is very good, but I think - it become more better since I came to AA.

About AA journals. During last year I got numbers of "Grapevine" - it was a gift from members of AA in America. It was very useful for me - I find many interesting articles, some of them we translated to Russian and one or two was publish in Russian AA journal "Rodnic". I want to translate some more articles from numbers of "Grapevine", which I have.

But - my main problem - I have a little time and I wish to do so many things in AA. And this translation - not the first things for me. I have some deals, that I think more important. And translations can be done by another people. But I can say - it was very interesting to read "Grapevine", it help me in my sobriety (and in my English too).

So, I must stop this letter - tomorrow I'll send it (I have Internet only on my work - and I can send letters only 1 or 2 times a week). Thank you for your story.

This love in AA, Marina

More will be revealed . . .

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