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Anastasiya Shevchenko, whose story we have published before, is still struggling. After leaving boarding school (orphanage) she was to find her new home in the house that belonged to her mother. However her relatives didn’t want to let her in thus leaving the orphan homeless. The court procedures have already taken too much energy and efforts from the poor girl though the solution is yet to be found.
At the same time I was informed that another girl – the boarding school graduate, is in trouble. As it turned out, an 18-year-old girl was kicked out from the professional college and from the dormitory after she was found pregnant. Now she spends time in one of the city cafes having instant noodles as her food and has nowhere to stay.
This is a shocking situation, I agree, but unfortunately, this is not a rare case in our country. When children are in a boarding school, they are not taught to take responsibility for their own lives and to be able to care for themselves. When they go to college afterwards, they get a lot of freedom and an allowance paid by the government. One may skip classes and spend the night somewhere else. Of course, the teacher will be angry but orphans don’t have parents, so who to turn to if the youth doesn’t behave appropriately and doesn’t give it a damn? One might feel sorry for the teaching staff that has to deal with really troubled teenagers. However kicking a pregnant student out into the street is tough and unbelievable.
I ask Anastasiya Shevchenko to help me with the situation. According to my experience I know that it might be difficult to find understanding with the homeless girl. For her I am a representative of the “hostile” world of adults who like to moralize and supervise and thus I cannot be trusted. Moreover I am really unaware where the girl could spend the night as the institutions of this kind don’t exist in our city.
Anastasiya is a decisive, practical and energetic girl. Soon she told me that she met Kristina and found a shelter for her. The following day we were to go to the college to talk to the staff.
One glance at Kristina is enough to see that she doesn’t fully understand her life’s situation and how difficult it is. Pregnant, homeless and careless – this is how I can describe her. “They shouted at me sooo much at the crisis center” – she shares with a capricious look on her face. And to settle in the crisis centre it’s necessary to see the doctor and take medical examination but the task is too difficult for her. Kristina became the boarding school dweller at the age of 8 and since then she got used to the idea that someone had to take care of her. And it looks like she doesn’t realize that she is not a child anymore, she is of legal age, she doesn’t have allowance and where to live and has to provide for herself.
Professional college number 31 where Kristina studied, is situated in the Pavlo-Kichkas district. A middle-aged woman, the master (head teacher) responsible for professional education comes to meet us. The others are on vacation. The principal and his deputy can be found in the head building of the college that is in the other part of the city.
The college representative cannot explain how come a pregnant girl was left homeless and with no means of living. “One has to behave in a decent way” – was the answer. However the woman has a pile of papers that she must give back to Kristina, after making notes about it. The process lasts an hour: the girl writes down the names of papers that represent her life and show the whole story of family betrayal: declaration on taking father’s parental rights away, declaration on taking mother’s parental rights away, court’s judgment on parental rights deprivation, declarations and judgments on alimony collection…
I ask the lady: “What do you think, where should she live now?”
She says: “Where she stayed that night when she didn’t come back to the dormitory. Do you want to make anybody guilty?”
On the way to the main college building I listen to how Anastasiya teaches Kristina: “Of course life has been not easy for you but you are a big girl now and you have to think what to do with your life. What will happen to your child? The government will not pay the benefit always and raising a child is a long and costly process, how will you bring him up? We can find a family for the baby and they will take him and raise him a good person (Kristina weeps at these words).
At the head building of the college we are shown the paper on pedagogical staff’s decision about Kristina’s expulsion. The dormitory supervisor also explains that the girl was insolent with others, the students were complaining about her behavior and even didn’t want to share a room with her. These words get total support by the girls present here.
I don’t want to argue. If these people don’t understand that one cannot kick the pregnant orphan out only because she has bad character, my explanations won’t help.
Moreover I received an agreement of an adopting family to give a shelter to the girl. I warned them that it is not very easy to deal with Kristina. “If not for her character, she wouldn’t be in this situation now. We should give her a chance” – these words of a kind and wise woman who became a mom to 12 adopted children give a lot of comfort.
For the family to have Kristina in their home she should take all the necessary medical tests. I talked this over with the head of the unit of one of the maternity hospitals in Zaporizhzhia. She will stay at the hospital starting from Monday and all the Fund employees begin to solve Kristina’s housing problem for the next couple of days – from Friday till Monday. Together this problem is solved too.
I am very clear with Kristina in my view on her future. There are only two ways for her: either she obtains tests and goes to live with the adopting family, or she makes company to the homeless. I think even if she wasn’t excluded from college and finished it in a couple years, with such attitude to life she would find herself in the same situation later. I try to be straightforward but easy-to-understand: “Why not? The homeless are people too. And as for food, one can find it in a trash can”. She weeps. She doesn’t want to stay with tramps.
This young lady doesn’t guess that I know about her truly wishes. I was told in the dormitory that she has some friends whom she visits when she has money or food that she can take to them. Standing on the dormitory porch she was rummaging through the documents she got and took out the bank papers. Then she pointed at the 5-digit bank account number and asked what it was: “Is it the amount of money I have there?” – “No, this is the account number, you have only 51 hryvnyas there”. – “So little? I was told there had to be more”.
The girl is constantly waiting somebody to come, make decisions for her and money to appear on the account from nowhere. She got used to this at the boarding school and then at college.
On Monday morning instead of going to the hospital where everybody is waiting for her she goes to the bank in order to cash some benefit that she thinks is there. She finds a friend who gives her a lift in his car. However she doesn’t get the money and with Anastasiya’s help finally comes to the hospital.
Over the weekend Anastasiya spent about 200 hryvnyas out of her own allowance to pay for Kristina’s housing and food. She was given 250 more hryvnyas at the Fund. Anastasiya comes to see Kristina every day, she brings food and medicines to her. A woman from the cafe where we found Kristina was coming too.
I remember I couldn’t believe my eyes when the college representative was giving the papers back to Kristina in such a calm and confident way, sure in the rightness of her actions. One must not do such a thing as sending a pregnant orphan girl out into nowhere. But words are not enough, only actions can prove who is right, even if it takes time, money, efforts, emotions and a lot of strength. It’s important not to turn away, not to stay aside.
I don’t know what is waiting for Kristina in the future but I want to thank you to everybody who took part in Kristina’s situation: an unknown cafe employee who informed us about the homeless girl, the employees and volunteers of the Fund who were seeking housing for her, the adopting family that is ready to welcome Kristina at their home.
The help and support of the hospital number 9 was also very precious. Thanks you to the head of the maternity unit - Evgeniy Grigorievich Averchenko and all the personnel. Thanks to their help and personal approach the issue of medical examination for Kristina was solved in no time.