‘How could I have failed to take advantage of this opportunity given to me by the Chance?’
Author: Westfall Margarita
Nikita has a beautiful and unexpectedly grown-up voice. He talks about his life loud and clear, not trying to seem better, not showing off, and not hiding behind the jokes. He begins by saying the following, «My life is very hard».
Nikita was born 16 years ago in the Arkhangelsk region. He had a mom and dad and a loving grandmother—the only child in a typical family. When Nikita was 2, his grandmother died. It turned out later; this woman was the one who made the family strong and stable. After his grandmother had passed away, life changed dramatically, and his father started drinking. Mom held on, but not for long.
«I was told that I was home alone, hungry, and naked. I grew up like that. Then came people from the child protection services, looked at everything, and made some notes. But they didn’t take me away immediately, only in 3 years. At the age of 5, I found myself in the orphanage».
The last time Nikita saw his parents was a few months after the police took him from his home. «We were walking on the playground, it was warm, and my parents came. I was glad; I was allowed to go to the summerhouse with them, behind the fence, to talk. After a while, my mother said to me, “Do you want to go home?”
Sure, I answered that I wanted to go home, and they told me, “Well, let’s go”. When we approached the house, which was quite far from the orphanage, we walked, crossed the railroad tracks, and the police were waiting for us. They took me away immediately. I never saw them again. I remember that I cried a lot when they took me away».
«When a child gets to the orphanage, no matter how old he or she is, this child is very scared. An orphanage is not like your home; there are many adults, many children, and everything goes according to the schedule. «The thing I remember clearly is that almost all the children were weird. I did not understand these differences, but I saw that they are slightly different. One guy had no fingers on his hand; the other one was laughing strangely and did not speak. Now I understand that I was with the mentally disabled. I had been living there for a year and a half. But I can hardly remember anything; my memories begin from the moment they decided to take me into the family. I was 6.5 years old».
A woman came to the orphanage with an adult daughter; they were allowed to play with the children of the younger group. «We were told that people would come and they would look at us and play with us. I liked them, I immediately started communicating, and then they came for the second time, and I was told that they would come to me. I remember running to them and calling this woman my mom. We played in the sandbox. I was told that after the first visit, they said, “We liked Nikita”. My foster mother talked to me a lot; she came every day. And she said that dad would come, too, he just worked a lot. I was terribly afraid that my real father would come. And then he came to my adoptive dad, Sergey Vladimirovich. He’s, you know, a real man. Everything good, masculine, real that I have is all from him, thanks to him. He is the closest person for me».
Nikita found a family, went to the 1 st grade; he had two older sisters and loving, attentive parents. Apart from his studies at school, he immediately entered a music school, the guitar class.
«At the age of 12, something damaged in my head. I have changed. No, I did not become a bad boy, just some kind of the riot began. After school, I went for a walk instead of going home, doing my homework, having lunch, like everyone else. I just walked along the streets. My parents called me, they talked to me at home, tried to persuade me and asked to stop. But I didn’t listen. I turned off my phone, promised that I would be back, and did not fulfill my promises. I wanted to walk and nothing else. I was almost an excellent student, I got only two Bs in my 7 th grade, but then my performance degraded. I got a smartphone, I surfed the net, cheated in class, got distracted. In the 8 th grade, I had 6 Cs».
Parents talked to Nikita again and again. They scolded, asked, took the phone away. What else could they do? They bought the dog he wanted so much. «I dreamed of a dog, but at that time, it didn’t fix anything. I came home from school, walked with it, and still left away. I got into a bad company. The guys were older than me; I started smoking, we were tricking out money and doing nothing».
Nikita’s voice changes when I ask him if there were any good moments during that period. He smiles, speaks fondly about the birth of his nephews.
«These kids, they were running after me, little people, very nice». During the awkward age, his relations with the mother began to deteriorate. «Every time she yelled at me, whatever I did. I understand that she was on edge; she did not know what to do. But I didn’t know what to do either. And I broke down.
At the age of 13, I left home for the first time, took offense at them, slammed the door, and ran away. I screamed, cried, beat walls and trees. Things were so bad. At 12am I came back home. When I turned 14, my parents told me for the first time, “If you keep behaving like this, we will take you back to the orphanage”. I shouted that I did not care and left. On this day, I tried alcohol for the first time. I returned in the morning and went to bed. I was woken up, scolded, but I did not hear a word, I did not understand anything.
After I finished 8 th grade, my parents sent me to the monastery. I don’t know how they managed to arrange that. There were people with a very difficult fate there; everyone was older than me; the youngest one was 28 years old. It was interesting for me to talk to them and to listen. All of them were former alcoholics who had ruined their lives in the past. I lived at that place for a month and a half, I was calm there, and I liked it.
Then they took me away. I arrived in a good mood; I was ready to change; I understood a lot. In three days, my mother found fault with me again. Again she didn’t like something; it was unfair, insulting. But I did nothing bad. So I left. This time for two weeks».
The police were looking for Nikita. Naturally, they reported to the child protection services. They could not find the boy and went through all his contacts, interrogated acquaintances. As a result, the guys who knew where Nikita was hiding got scared and reported about his whereabouts.
«I lived in a treehouse, it was summer, so it was warm. I was not thinking about anything; I was experiencing a strange state; I was trying to understand myself, probably. Then everything happened. While they were looking for me, my parents were called to child protection services there they were told the following, “You are not coping with the boy, refuse from him, write a statement”. And they wrote it. I was brought to the police station; my parents were there. Mom brought a jacket and told me to take it. I was told that I was going to the orphanage.
I didn’t care and didn’t understand what I had lost. One week later, I was sent to the orphanage, 600 km from the city. I was brought there so that I don’t run away anymore. Later, in that orphanage, I saw my personal file. I found out what they had told my parents. The guys I knew were selling drugs. Everyone decided that I was also an addict. And I didn’t even know anything about it. They sent me to doctors, checked, already in the orphanage. I have never taken any drugs. Only after three months, I started to understand what had happened. Before that, I was in some kind of stupefaction; I felt completely indifferent. To people, to myself, to the future. I went to the 9 th grade of a rural school. I talk to my dad every week; I remained a son for him. If I have any doubts, if I have to make a choice, I always consult him, he is my support in life. The first time we spoke with my mother, she told me that we must move on. She has put up with me for a long time.
I came to school with huge gaps in knowledge; they called me to the principal’s office in the orphanage and offered classes with online tutors from the Chance program. I imnediately agreed and started studying Mathematics. I am a humanitarian, I always got As for Russian, and Literature, but the STEM disciplines require time and attention.
One of the most important and significant events happened to me only thanks to the Arifmetika Dobra Foundation and the Chance program: I found a very close person, Yulia, from Kirov. Soul mates are important, really.
I have never looked for my biological parents; I do not need them. I know that my father died six months ago, and my mother died three years ago. This fact does not make me feel anything. I feel that other people are my parents. I’ve got a scar on my face because of my biological father; he threw a stool at me when I was five years old and tried to stop him. He beat my mother. I threw a bottle of vodka at him, what else could I do? He went mad. It’s weird to feel nostalgic about this kind of childhood.
I want to enter the journalism faculty. I write poetry; I plan to write for local newspapers – for a youth club, a school, and an orphanage. My future is important to me; it is important to show my parents that their efforts were not in vain». Nikita has been thinking about his life motto, the main rule he follows, for a long time. Finally, he says that he seems to be able to formulate it:
«Take risks! Don’t stand aside».
His dream is to visit Georgia, the sea, and the mountains there. An amazing boy, a young man it is a pleasure to talk to, discuss what is happening in the world. You want a bright present for him and a future full of interesting events.
Nikita wrote this poem on February 28, 2020.
I don’t need anything now
That’s what I tell
How many more circles of hell
Will I go through
Of my own free will
I have no fear – it’s dead still
I’ve already seen the worst in my life
Parting and pain that are like a knife
I said no word
Silent, not heard
But the grate of my teeth broke in
I was alone, had no kin
Many times I have died…
Then again – I saw the light
My soul ached, I suffered a loss
No one knows what it’s like
But I keep walking across
We ask you to help us pay for Nikita’s lessons with a tutor and support the boy in his aspiration to become a journalist. Now Nikita also studies English and Mathematics. Thanks to your donation, he will be able to continue his studies, and this is his chance to successfully pass the exam and enter a university.
* All raised funds will be used to pay for the lessons for Nikita and other children from his orphanage