“YOUTH AT RISK (UKRAINE)”
Written by Yuliya Abibok
Photos by Valentin Khristich
This is Hope
Knockings of bricks and plaster, broken glass, rats spoor on a thick hoar of building dust. This is a derelict building not far from the capital of Ukraine, Kiev.
Our heroine was living here with her boyfriend at intervals within a year. Recently they were kicked out by the security of the nearby upscale new buildings. But this couple is going to return to this derelict because there is no other place for them to go to.
Her name is Nadya. It is a short form for a popular in Ukraine, and in Russia too, name Nadiya or Nadezda. In English it means “hope”. Nadya is 17. A year ago she left school and her home in a small Ukrainian village and came to Kiev.
Her father died when she was 5. There are 3 daughters in her family and it was really hard for their mother to bring them up, because our government gives very few money as a social help for such families. As Nadya was 15 she decided to go to a specialized school to become a cook.
She says that in general there’re studying orphans who were brought up in a Children’s Home, orphanages. It’s a very difficult contingent there and teachers usually treat them badly. A cook is the most expensive kind of profession in the specialized school. There were the dishes and food formerly, but now students have to buy everything. Grant was not enough to live on, there were also financial problems in the family and as a result conflicts at school and at home. Money was spent for studying but mom thought that she misused it. It can be said that money was the main reason for her to go away, as Nadya says.
The economical and public life of Ukraine is located mainly in Kiev and in a few more big cities. That’s why young people leave small cities and villages and as a result they become depopulated. It’s extremely hard to find a job in such cities because most of factories and works were closed in 1990s or in view of economic crisis in 2008-2009.
There are 5 mln people in Kiev, and a half of them are newly arrived. Because of a host of migrants the prices for the immovable property in the capital of Ukraine exceeds those in other European capitals. In Kiev people get the highest salary within the whole Ukraine, in 2011 it was about 3,500 Hrn that equals 450$. This money will be enough just to pay for rent.
You can rent a room by an old lady just for 150$ , so under age and unqualified Nadya could expect only on such sum of money. But it’s rather hard for minor to find a work and to receive a salary then. All this means that only rats, broken glass and ruins were waiting for Nadya in a big city.
She was living on a railway station for a few days, then she came to a Christian organization, where she could get clothes and food but any kind of accommodation. Her today boyfriend, Sasha, helped her with accommodation as he worked on a power-saw bench not far from Kiev. But, as Nadya says, the company where Sasha was working, declared bankrupt and the guys got the key of the street.
Sasha is 19 now. He is from a small city too. He is an orphan and has been strolling since 8 years old. Sasha and Nadya started to live in this derelict building where they were found and taken to the police-office.
Then they lived in a basement which Nadya calls “ normal accommodation” in opposition to their today ruins. There were from 2 to 10 people living in a basement at different times. Then an aggressive group of drug addicts came there and they had a hairbreadth escape. This episode Nadya remembers as one of the most dreadful in her street life. After that the basement was closed. As a result they returned to the previous ruins. Today Nadya hopes only for the best and for an opportunity to find a job. At the same time Sasha, who doesn’t have any documents now, collects waste paper and scrap metal to earn some money.
Nadya receives help at crisis intervention centre “ Right for health”. It was opened a year ago and nowadays it gives help to such girls and women as Nadya. As an outreach worker, Anna, tells us that most of their clients are people from problem or single-parent families and housing problem is their main problem.
Beside outreach workers women receive toll free lawyer’s and psychologist’s help. On the initiative of the Centre their clients pass medical supervision that shows veneral diseases by many of them. It becomes clear that they earn their living by prostitution, although it’s forbidden in Ukraine.
Some of their fosterlings managed to return their clients to their families or to lodge seemly apart.
I come here every day to take a shower, to wash my clothes, Nadya says. With the help of a centre I could get a passport. I also use a phone here to call me mom. In general… so to say… everything is ok, says Nadya with a care-worn face.
As a result of the centre outreach’s work Nadya met with her mother after their 8-month separation. Anna, a centre outreach tells us:” Nadya got help of a psychologist. Now it’s a girl that can definitely formulate and represent her thought. She is not so aggressive as she was. It could be actually the main reason for her former conflicts with her mother. Now she keeps terms with mom and calls her. With the centre’s help Nadya is looking for some general school with a hostel. She is going to go home to collect all the necessary documents for it.
In August Nadya will be 18. As a result she will have more chances to find a job. But it’s not good for her mother who will lose the last source of income. But if Nadya enters the school her mom will receive some payments from the government for three years more. The girl says that it’s the main incentive for studying. She understands that there can be new derisions at school, but she also knows that she has no choice in the matter. She doesn’t want to get her mother into a trouble. She wants to help her as much as she can.
In 3 years Nadya’s mom will be 48. She can expect only for a minimum pension that is about 100$. But it will come true when her mom will be 55. But it’s no use for Nadya in looking into such a long-ago future. She thinks about the time when she will finish a general school. She will be 21 then. It’s a time when all normal students become somebody and have a job. And she will just try to stand on her own feet. But in general it doesn’t make her afraid.
To all problems that Nadya already has she can also add her boyfriend Sasha. Young man who supported her for a whole year doesn’t want to change his life. He got accustomed to this life. And Nadya doesn’t want to spend her life in a basement and to collect waste paper to earn some money.
… We’re walking up the street and our heroine explains me how can she talk so beautiful and correct. Her mom is a philologist and Nadya loves literature and is also writing her own poems. She says that she tried to write a novel but she doesn’t have much experience for that. But I assured her that her experience will be enough for an autobiographical story which would be published and bring her a lot of money! Nadya replies that there are only a few people whom she can trust. They are mostly centre workers. In general, in such situation, people can rely upon themselves only. If you don’t take the wheel you won’t reach anything. And money is not the most important thing for her because she writes for herself, as Nadya says.