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Natalya created comfortable living conditions herself
Being number one on the waiting list for the new housing, Natalya Tryapitsyna still can’t get what she should be given by law
Nowadays most families face the choice: either to have many babies or to have social well-being. It becomes difficult to combine both. It was Albert Pavlov, the head of the “Happy Child" Foundation, who introduced Natalya Tryapitsyna to me. She is the mom of six kids, ages one to fourteen. Since 2003 they all have been living in a small room (16 sq. meters) of an old two-story community building that is on Vrotslavskaya Street, Pavlo-Kichkas district. Their cozy room stands out from the overall atmosphere of decline and desolation reigning in the building.
It has been almost ten years of injustice now for the Tryapitsyn family… But let’s start from the beginning.
Natalya was to be granted a two-room accommodation in 2003, when being the mother of three children she was pregnant with her fourth one. But the officials decided that one room in the slums would be enough for the family, saying that the promised two rooms were given to someone else. They asked her not to be upset but to wait for a few more months when she would be given a new flat. Easy to believe when you are number one on the waiting list for the new accommodation, granted according to the State housing program.
Today the single mom raises six kids all by herself. She turned a small living space into a warm and comfortable home. When not pregnant, Natalya always worked and bought new furniture for the room: two bunk beds, a wardrobe and a writing-desk used by four of her school-aged children at the same time. Recently, thanks to the support of The “Happy Child” Foundation volunteers, a sponsor from the USA Kevin Ruth donated money for the new fridge for the family – they already have it in their only room.
It’s hard for seven people to be comfortable when living on such a small space, isn’t it? In summer it’s very hot and stuffy in here, in winter children fall ill fast. Moreover, Natalya’s neighbours organized a small “business” in the building: they sell home-made vodka, thus attracting herds of clients right under Natalya’s only window. So day and night one can hear the drunkards argue and litter and there is no way the woman and her children can escape this.
Meantime the government representatives make promises but no deeds
The community building doesn’t have a washing room, so to give the kids a bath, Natalya heats the water in the buckets and washes them in a bowl right here in the room that also serves as the bedroom and the dining room. There is only one public restroom for all tenants of the floor and it looks as if it survived a bombing, one of the two loo holes doesn’t work. Just not long ago people managed to get rid of the rats that used to live there. The floor of the restroom is constantly covered with water despite the efforts of Natalya and the kids to keep the place clean.
Here is what the family usually eats, roughly:
Main course: soup or borshsch, meat-free – 4-5 days a week, based on chicken broth – 2-3 times a week. Second course: cooked grains or buttered pasta, plain – 4-5 days a week, with chicken liver sauce – 2-3 times a week. The kids get candies or cookies 2-3 times a week, the rest of the time they have fruit kissel as their dessert. Before the oven got broken Natalya had pampered her children with home-made bakery, and it was a significant addition to the diet. The woman counted her income: financial aid for the youngest child plus a single mom benefit make 500 hrivnyas (62 USD) per person… a month!!!
I think the local government should feel ashamed that in the 21st century children of their city have such humiliating living conditions. For three years the single mom has been fighting for her legal right to have a separate flat. But in response the officials turn their back on her and keep sending meaningless replies with the same text: There is no available housing at the moment and nobody knows when there is any. Just wait. The answers are identical, only the officials’ names differ. Not long ago Natalya got the same reply from the mayor Alexander Sin.
I’m pretty sure that none of those who give this woman the runarounds ever came to see her in the slums and ever witnessed the conditions in which the kids grow. Certainly, the simplest thing is to send the mother of many children a refusal note instead of trying to solve the problem. Natalya pays taxes out of her small income as we all do, thus supporting all these people in the government. However her efforts to get through to them stay unresponsive. Perhaps those who must help the poor mom just closed their hearts and souls.
The public restroom is devastated with the water leaking on the floor
Social services gave one ticket to a circus performance and offered the kids to cast a lot
It’s not surprising that the members of the European Parliament show their resentment at the corruption level in Ukraine. If to sell three chandeliers decorating the President’s floating residence (no theater in the world can boast of the same chic in decoration (!), it would suffice to buy flats for up to ten large families. No statesperson in Zaporozhzhye would even dare to approach this kind of slums, and moreover live there.
Natalya is very modest, she doesn’t complain. She wouldn’t turn for help if not for her daughter’s disease – 10-year-old Dasha has heart problems. She needs doctor’s examination and treatment. Obviously Dasha inherited this from her mom as Natalya needs cardiologist’s supervision as well. The siblings suffer when their mom loses consciousness but there is no money to begin treatment.
On the New Year’s Eve the local Social services gave one ticket to a circus performance for the family to share and offered the kids to cast a lot. How cold-hearted and cynical one should be to do this!
In Ukraine we should take the standard of living of Western Europe as an example where the incomes are much higher and the government gives a significant support. For instance, if not for the state programs for families, in France 27% of families with children would be below the poverty line. Due to the powerful state support this number is reduced to 7%.
The present-day situation in Ukraine is also peculiar because of the upcoming demographic crisis of an unprecedented scale. And there is only one way out – a large prosperous family (not a marginal one) should become a national idea, the goal and the sense of functioning for the state.
EDITORIAL BOARD’S NOTE: This publication is to be considered an official appeal to the law-enforcement agencies that must supervise the observation of Ukrainian laws concerning the multiple-children families.
Photo by Taras MAKARENKO
The most urgent needs of the Tryapitsyn family are the following:
- cardiologist’s examination and treatment for the mother Natalya Vladimirovna and her daughter Dasha;
- cold medications and immune boosting remedies, vitamins: when a child gets cold, the others fall ill too because they live in the same room;
- school supplies and books for children;
- diapers of size 4 and baby-food for Katya;
- clothes – as kids grow fast, there is always need for clothing, plus at the moment mom Natalya needs warm winter jacket and boots herself.
You can contact Natalya Tryapitsyna by phone: +38 (096) 382 02 60.
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