By Christiane Bliese
I am in Kaliningrad, a city so vibrant, a city that lives with an enormous tempo. New buildings spring up here and there. Fast cars, fast advertisement. A cross road forces me to stop. People, I believe 30 of them, stop with me at red traffic lights.
A boy sits, huddled, on a pedestrian parapet, perhaps he is 15. He seems to be asleep, a paper cup in his hand. Tanned skin, clothes not washed, a hood over his face. The paper cup in his hand is almost tipping over. There are only a 5-Ruble coin in a cup. He is alone.
I’m searching for my wallet, I do not find it right away. The green light is on. No-one has given this boy any money. Who can help this boy?
I meet with Sergey Kivenko, a vital, handsome man in mid-forties, you can feel his love for street children. He is a director of the children’s house «Yablonka» (English: a little apple tree) where children in the age of 6-18 y.o can get food, and if necessary, they can stay here for some time.
I am offered a traditional tea. A young 17-year-old boy joins us. He is waiting for dinner that Sergey’s daughter is preparing. The boy takes a piece of the cake.
Sergey tells me that the boy has problems at home and that’s whay he is here. He is in that age that he could be my son, a thought crosses my mind.
Sergey’s phone is running hot. The Youth welfare office asking if the boy is on its way to the doctor’s examination. Yes, he will be. But he will eat first.
The next call on Sergey’s phone, someone wants to meet with him. Sergey is a man whose efficiency can not be measured. He wants to give the children not only the basic care. He listens, he has many ideas about how the strength of these children can be developed. With pottery workshops and parties, and games. Photos from the summer camp show happy faces.
To my question, how can I can help, he answers – Write that the «Little Apple Tree» continues to work.
Until February, the Lutheran church could support the house. Now, “Yablonka” is an independent institution. The building of “Yablonka” has been provided by the city. Sergey is currently working voluntarily here, and his family lives of its low unemployment salary. Of course, you won’t find a word about it on the “Yablonka’s” website.