This week’s blog comes from Anya (whose name has been changed for privacy), one of the young orphan mums supported by Love Russia. This is her story about growing up as an orphan told in her own words…
"My earliest memories are of being a scared child in an orphanage. I was scared of everything from insects to the orphanage staff. My older sisters were with me at that orphanage and I felt protected by them.
When I was about 8 my mother came and collected me and my sisters from the orphanage. I remember being so happy - I didn’t take any toys with me from the orphanage because I thought I was going to live in a palace and I would have so much more there. When I got home though I realised that I had less than I had in the orphanage - but at least my family were together.
Soon though, my life at home became scary. My parents would drink and beat me or chase me out of the house. Sometimes I slept in the shed or on the streets.
A bit later my younger sister came into the world and I quickly had to learn to be a mum because my mother could not care for us. I lived with her in an abandoned house and scrounged food from the neighbours or the allotments nearby.
At the age of 12 I was put back into an orphanage and my sister was sent to the baby home. I can’t put into words how upset I was. The emotions I went through that year are indescribable.
I hated life in the orphanage -it felt like a prison where bitter and damaged people fight for survival. I learned not to show my tears and to stand up for myself. I concentrated on my education because I remembered someone once told me that education was important. The only things that kept me going were seeing my grades improve to Cs and the visits from my older sisters who were at college. By the end of my time at the orphanage I was no longer the timid girl I had been - I wouldn’t take any nonsense from anyone and I knew without a doubt that I didn’t want to be like my parents.
Having finished schooling with good grades I managed to get a place studying law and halls to live in… but by my third year I ended up pregnant. I cried for a long time and hid my pregnancy from everyone. I realised quickly that this man simply wanted to tie me to him with a child. He was controlling and would mock and beat me. Back then I thought my baby having a father was the most important thing so I silently endured his abuse.
Then my son came into the world - the whole meaning of my life! I realised that staying with his father put us both in danger so I left and was allowed to live back at university halls. Studying with a baby ended up being too hard though - I had to take my son to lectures or miss them and so I ended up dropping out. I lost my place at university halls and had to start staying with friends for as long as they could have us. I felt that my son and I were all alone in he world - unwanted and unnecessary.
I knew I was entitled to a government flat and I had to go to 23 different hearings and on wild goose chases around different departments and institutions to prove that I was entitled to this. I felt like giving up but when I looked at my treasured son, given to me by God, I found new strength. Eventually I got my flat! It is covered in mould but it is a roof over our head!
Right now in my life I experience good times and bad times. My son is not very healthy and I suffer with depression which the doctors here cannot help with. I have qualifications in art, catering and manicure and I hope to be able to get a job once my son is at school. Right now we survive on benefits.
I am determined that my son will not have a life like mine. I have decided to go and see a therapist who can hopefully help me and I am doing all I can to give him the happy life he deserves".
Anya regularly attends the orphan mums and babies support group. Here she finds solace and understanding in the other mums who share similar stories. In their time together they discuss parenting issues that challenge them and with the group leader’s help, find ways to manage. Love Russia's bursary support is a huge and significant encouragement to them being four times more than the standard government bursary for a non-working mum. If you would like to help mums like Anya, £22 a month in sponsorship will help us commit to supporting more orphan mums like her.
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