The team of the “Social Patrol” of the Odessa Charity Foundation “Way Home” is daily driving all over the city to provide help for the street children of Odessa and Odessa region. There are the special “points” – places, where the street children used to live or gather: empty or old buildings, garages, parks and beaches during the summer. “Social Patrol” becomes the first step towards the better life for many street children and teenagers of Odessa. After they get to know the Patrol, they are being involved into the whole program of the re-integration into the society, starting from the healthcare support and completed with the issuing the documents, etc.
Here is one of the stories that the “Social Patrol” members told us.
We meet with Anya at the empty old building – one of the “points” where the 12 street children settled. She was 17 at that time and was on injection drugs. We have invited her to the “Open Doors” drop-in center so that she could wash herself. However, when she came there and we started talking, she got closed from everyone and then even left the center. She did not come back for a long time since then, but we saw her often at the “point”. It is a usual situation when the street children need time to change their lives. There should be no pressure from our side, they should understand and decide themselves – should they agree to receive help or not. The visit to the “Open Doors” is usually the first stem on this way towards the child’s new life.
In the work with Anya we had to be very careful – there might not be the second chance, so we spoke on the different topics, not mentioning the Center anymore. After quite a long while, Anya came to us herself. She did not ask for the services, she just wanted to talk about her problems. Here is what she told us.
Her life on the street started when she was 13. She did not find understanding and care at home and needed independence. Her first love ended up bringing het to the drugs. First time out of the family felt great – the man, who took her with him and was much older – took good care of her, but found to be a drug addict. He made her take drugs as well, Anya had to earn for the new dose by being a prostitute. The lover disappeared quite soon and she had to go to the juvenile prison. There it was found that she has HIV. While being at the prison, she hoped to come back to normal life and return home. But when she did come back home – no one was waiting for her there: the mother died, father was severely ill, and her sister, who by that time had 3 children kicked Anya out of the house, saying that with HIV she should not be close to her children.
Anya had nowhere to go but to her old lifestyle: drugs, prostitution and street life.
The “Open Doors” Center helped her to restore her passport and registration papers, legalize her right for the house. She went through the rehabilitation course and the course of psychological help, settled registration at the AIDS Center where she could get the therapy. Then Anya got married and gave a birth to the wonderful girl Vitalina. Now she has a house and a family.
Despite the actual problems that she had, she is fighting for life and for the happiness of her family. The specialists of the “Open Doors” center keep helping Anya – they see the person who was at the bottom of life and could find the courage, strength and faith to be reborn again.