Compassion for the Afflicted
It’s easy to judge isn't it? We’ve all done it with thoughts like ‘Why do they have children if they can’t afford it?’ and ‘Why don’t they choose better relationships?’
Through a basic understanding of psychology and hearing life stories like Mila's (below), it’s clear that judgement is wrongly placed. Mila is now 25 years old and we've known her since we ran summer camps (pictured above age 12 in 2009). The challenges she faces today are a direct result of her adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Mila's Childhood Trauma
At nine months old, her alcoholic parents were deprived of parental rights. Soon after, her father died and her mother was put in prison for murder (she’d killed her brother-in-law with an axe). Mila lived at an orphanage and aged five she was taken to a foster family. They found her behaviour too challenging so took her back. At the orphanage she bonded with caregiver Vladimir and she remembers some feeling safe. After he died that changed. She was beaten by the older orphans and nobody was able to protect her.
Mila's Relationship Challenges
After leaving the orphanage, Mila was placed in a college where she met her boyfriend and she was soon pregnant (below on right). He would beat her every time he was drunk and their relationship was very off and on, but she had no one else. He rarely worked so they often went without food. He took what little money she had to spend on alcohol and got them into debt.
Mila was on the verge of finding help at a place for homeless mums when her baby was born. Instead, she stayed with Anya, another orphan friend. But Anya's one-room flat was too small for them all so a year later, she was back living with her boyfriend.
When her daughter was two, she left her boyfriend for the last time which meant staying at a crisis centre for six months. After that, she tried living in the flat she’d been issued by the state. It was three hours from anyone she knew and she was isolated, so didn't stay long.
Mila's Financial Challenges
Mila needed to get back to Ryazan. She put a deposit on a flat but it turned out to be a scam. Having no money, this was devastating. Thankfully, she had a connection with an orphanage carer whose daughter was also wanting to rent and together they found a flat.
The responsibility for her state-issued flat did not cease after she moved. Her utility services continued to mount and now she owes more than £1000. As a single mum this is an impossible situation as her £130 a month benefit leaves nothing to pay it off.
Mila’s ACEs Score is High
Neglect, parental addiction, death of a parent, witness to horrific violence, imprisonment of a parent, fostering, abandonment and abuse. Looking through the lens of ACEs it’s easy to understand why Mila’s life has taken this direction.
Her poor orphanage education and lack of parenting made no provision for family planning and healthy relationship advice. But now there is hope...
There's hope because she has the support and friendship from both Luba and Galina and others at a Love Russia Support Group. She trusts them and takes advice, both practical and emotional. Despite all her challenges, she has not given up. We recently spoke with Mila and she is one month into a new job working 9 - 4, six days a week. She takes her daughter as she's not yet at nursery. Galina (her mentor) is fearful she may never get paid without a contract. If she does, she’ll earn just £120 pm. With Galina's help to budget, Mila is beginning to attempt to pay off her debt using her Love Russia bursary.... and more importantly, she is determined to keep and care for her daughter which will break one of the key ACEs that affected Mila's life from the outset.
Please pray for Mila, that her life will one day be less of an uphill climb.