Andrey had a dream, like all boys have dreams. He wanted to have a good bicycle, a notebook, he wanted his parents to take
him on trips to the sea or just shopping to get him shoes and a jacket. His dream was to have a family. When he was 15 he couldn’t answer the question he asked himself often — why his parents don’t care for him.
His father was a bus driver, and Andrey can still remember when his father would take him on a ride through the streets of Kaliningrad at night. This is the only good memory about his father. Then there were just those streets. The streets of the city have offered Andrey more than his parents could offer. They offered him… love? Friendship? Acceptance? The streets taught Andrey some hard truths that made him wanna cry and tore his heart apart.
The New Year’s holiday, his parents are drunk, as usual. Andrey’s friend suggested to try some vodka.
«Bitter but cool» — said Andrey after he tried his first vodka. This was the beginning of a long journey called «the adult life». This was also the beginning for new friends and interests.
Andrey has learned to steal from grocery stores and supermarkets. He now had money, then he had… «happy pills». Those pills made him happy, hyper, cheerful. Pills he could buy in any drugstore in the city. What Andrey noticed was that when he had pills, stolen things and money then he was loved, accepted and respected by his small clique.
A year passed by. Andrey’s parents abandoned him, they just gave up their parental rights on him. Andrey was placed in a social care center. Of course, he ran away, was caught, brought back to the social center and ran away again. Social workers had no understanding of his behavior. Andrey became an outcast… Unwanted. Hopeless. Unable to survive in life. And he ran away again. Four months Andrey lived on the streets.
It was late autumn, the end of November. Very cold. Someone from Andrey’s friends, also a street child, said something about… the apple tree, the «Yablonka». What was that apple tree, or «Yablonka» as the «apple tree» is called in Russian, Andrey didn’t know. But his friend convincingly spoke about the «Yablonka» Center where kids like them can get some food and even wash their clothes. Andrey went to «Yablonka».
He didn’t talk much, he was held back and very reserved. Slowly he was getting used to the new people around him. He managed to get to know everyone very soon. Also, he figured out that he was an equal to all here, he was no longer an outcast.
He would spend some time in «Yablonka» and then he would go back to live on the street, but he would always come back. One time, when Andrey disappeared from «Yablonka» for quite some time and again came back, one of the social workers in our Center had a talk with him. We don’t know what they talked about, but we have seen Andrey crying. Andrey and crying — we were in shock. What happened — we still don’t know. But after all Andrey approached our superintendent and said: «Ivanych, give me some real assignment, I want to do something like a real man». This was the start of a new life.
Andrey’s street friend would call and visit him and invite him to join them for some questionable endeavors. Andrey knew how to say «no». Now Andrey is in the army and serves in Baltiysk. For the New Year’s we expect Andrey to come visit us in «Yablonka». We are happy to see this young man who found strength to walk a straight path in life.
We say THANK YOU to «Yablonka» where adults helped this young guy to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong.