In December 1991, the Soviet Union fell apart together with lots of public services that used to be very efficient and well-coordinated. In the USSR, during the whole history of its existence, not only KGB and defense structures worked efficiently, as many people unaware of the history of Soviet Union think, but state social security and ward services that used to be able to firmly stand up for the interests of the poor, socially helpless and incapable strata of society.
Perhaps, the State was not able to fully replace parents to orphans (as it is not able now) – surround them with kindness and care that only loving hearts of mothers and fathers can give. But there was no doubt that the State Policy was carried out providing orphans with the possibility of social adaptation and improvement of living conditions.
Public institutions for children deprived of parents’ ward were very well-financed. After secondary schooling that was under the authority of the Ministry of Education, orphans were remitted under the wardship of local administration. The latter was imposed as a duty to have orphanage graduates employed and provided with a place to live.
All these activities were thoroughly controlled by the State, so orphans generally had a pretty good chance to get settled independently and become functioning members of society. True, there wasn’t always well paid and qualified jobs for them, as for living conditions, separate and comfortable (they had to live in so-called ‘dorms’ – hotels attached to enterprises or educational institutions, where they had to share a room with several completely strange people). However, the State still provided orphans entering the adult life.
Finding a job for them
Fortunately, the majority of orphanage directors do not limit their participation in orphans’ upbringing by administrative functions. And lots of them worry about the future of children who become literally their own kids during the years of working and living together, and perforce try to set them up in life, help them after graduation: find them a job when possible using personal connections, let them stay for a while in orphanage facility after graduation, although it’s against the rules.
Polina from Pavlodar (Kazakhstan) at the age of 10 was adopted by the ‘Sluders’ family. Practical and independent, the girl as she stepped down from the airplane in the morning at Moscow airport was very critical, expressing her opinion about the city: “Your Moscow is ‘bespontovy’ (worthless)… Not every intersection has a traffic light, as it should be in a decent city, like Pavlodar… ‘Intourist’ Hotel is okay though…”
In the afternoon, Polina grew sad: “I’m so used to my Children’s Home… I had friends there, but the main thing is…”. And then Polina started a conversation that astounded me.
“See, in Pavlodar, when orphans graduate from school, we have to leave the Children’s Home, and our director – mother Zhanar places lots of girls in the market to sell goods from stall… it’s cool…” “And…?” said I, not understanding what she was getting at. “And when I’m 16, I’ll have to leave them,” she pointed at her parents, “leave my home… Who will put me in the market or wherever else in America? Will they be able to do it? Are there markets in America? In Pavlodar, for instance, it’s hard to find a place in the market. Mother Zhanar can do it for sure…”
I was stunned!
“Polina, but you won’t have to leave your home when you are 16. Nobody will ever desert you now!” “Really? This is odd… Did I get it right or it’s you, mixing up things? How is it possible – ‘not to leave’ – everybody leaves… Or you mean I’ll be able to stay for a couple of months until I save some money to rent a room? This is good – mother Zhanar lets us do the same in Pavlodar. But then what?” “No… These are your father and mother now.
She wants to go to the US
You’ll be able to live with them as long as you want. Your whole life, if you like. What market are you talking about? Now you’ll be able to choose any profession you want; you will go to college. Dad and mom will help you…” “Really? Well, I don’t know…” It was evident that I didn’t convince her. “But when I’m 16, I’ll have a passport and will be able, if I want, to return to Pavlodar to get a job there? If nobody helps me find a job in America?” “Well…I guess so…” I decided not to concentrate her attention on this anymore.
How do you explain to a 10-year-old kid, who is worried about finding a job not to die in this brutal (she knows it for sure) life, things that we, grown-ups, consider natural and clear? The majority of us weren’t ever deserted by anybody in childhood. And at the age of 10, we usually dreamt of becoming astronauts and actresses. They were not at all worried about a possible prospect of looking for a job in the market instead of starving to death. But Polina had to think about it.
To the clinic
That afternoon we went to the medical clinic, where the doctors examined Polina. In the clinic, she busily walked in shining cleanness of the lobby, touched the coffee-machine, leafed through American magazines that were on the table in the corner for patients. Her verdict was: “Okay… Not too bad, not worse than in Pavlodar…” Then there was a medical examination.
The parents went to the clinic cash desk; I was busy looking through some papers. On the way to the car, when I finished with papers, I dropped in at the cash desk to pick Polina and her parents up to go the car together. Polina wasn’t bored. She was quickly and loudly saying something to the cashier-girl who was listening attentively.
“…And then, as I receive my passport, I’ll be able to come back from America to Pavlodar, where mother Zhanar will find me a job in the market…” I heard the end of the story.
I asked the parents to go to the car and stayed longer by the cash desk to pick up the envelopes with the results of the medical.
“Strange…” was all the cashier-girl could say handing me the envelope…
Polina is crying
The next morning I was woken up by Kim and Chris’s phone call. “Polina is crying, something is wrong, but we can’t understand her yet…” I heard the father’s troubled voice. I asked to pass the phone to whimpering Polina.
“What happened?” “I dreamt about Pavlodar… mother Zhanar… And the main thing – Uncle Igor, do you know for sure that I’ll get my passport when I’m 16 and will be able to return to Pavlodar to…?” “Enough,” I barked. “I got your question. Yes, you will be. Yes, to Pavlodar. Sure. But you won’t want to go. Because you’ll like America more.” “It would be good… But I doubt it. Pavlodar still is. And the market…” “Stop it!” I interrupted her. “You’ll have to calm down to be ready to go to the American Embassy for the visa interview…”
Visa is here!
In the afternoon of the same day, Polina’s visa was issued. After the interview at the Embassy, we made a short tour around Moscow. Everyone was in a good mood. All the arrangements were made. The family’s flight to the USA was planned for the next day. Polina was very nice; during the tour, she curiously looked around, taking a view of Moscow sights, willingly posed for pictures. Only once she innocently wondered if there were markets in Moscow. And once more, at what age “Moscow children get passports.” Then I immediately switched the conversation to some other subject.
“And that girl… She, if she receives the passport when she is 16 and wants to…?” “Yes,” I interrupted him. “When she is 16. Passport. Pavlodar. Mother Zhanar. Market. Sure.” “Okay,” concluded the porter and made his way to the hotel entrance waddling slowly and looking quite satisfied.
At the airport
At the airport, Polina wondered “who were those men in green uniforms by the belt lines” (she meant the customs staff).
“Why?” I got suspicious. “Nothing… Just wondering, what if I ask them a question, should they answer me…?”
I wasn’t allowed through customs control, so I watched Chris, Kim, and Polina handing their luggage and registering. Suddenly the woman at the desk leaned over to Polina, and they started talking about something (I wondered, what about?!). In a couple of minutes, Polina gestured at her parents reassuringly and headed my direction.
“Uncle Igor… The lady said there might be markets in America. I can also work in a market in America. If I can’t get to Pavlodar, then…” “Yes, Polina, there are bunches of markets in America. America is the country of democracy and boundless opportunities. So you’ll be able to work in any of them.” “Why didn’t you tell me right away…?” “Look, Polina! Why don’t you go to America at last?”
Learn about treating acne naturally.