I've recently been reading exclusive interviews on several blogs I frequent. It's really fun to feel like you have the "inside scoop" on someone. I have conducted many, many interviews—some with kids you've never heard of, some with prominent Christian authors, some with friends. Usually I end up with far more material than I can use in an article. So I thought: Why not use those extra bits on my blog friends?
I can't commit to every Friday, but at least every other Friday I would like to present an exclusive interview.
In June 2005, I visited the Mstyora orphanage near Vladimer City in Russia. Seventy-four children ages 3 to 18 live at Mstyora. I interviewed 15-year-old Sergei.
Tell me about your earliest memories.
I was born in Kazakhstan. My mom was allergic to the climate there, so when I was 3 years old, I came to Russia. I lived in a village. For four years I studied there, but after fourth grade I had to walk 3 kilometers to a different school. Then my mom was in the hospital because she was and alcoholic, and I was taken to a shelter.
What happened when you left the shelter?
When my mom picked me up, she was living with a man in the village of Nikologory. We couldn’t really make friends with that man because he would beat me. I started to run away. Several times I tried to run away to Moscow, and they would find me and bring me back. They put me in the shelter close to where my mom lived, but I was in the habit of running away. Finally I succeeded in getting to Moscow. I found some bad friends there. We lived on the street and would wait for drunk people to come out of stores so we could take their money. Sometimes people would feel sorry for us and just give us money.
How did you respond when you were caught in Moscow and taken to the Mstyora orphanage?
I planned to run away. But when I came here I met some of the kids who were at the other shelter. I knew some of them already. Everything is better here. When I lived at home, I had nothing to do so I would get up in the morning and I’d go out wandering. Here I am involved in activities, so my life is much more interesting. I like to draw. I like to paint. I can cut wood and carve by myself. I work in the greenhouse and take care of plants. I don’t want to run away anymore.
How has your school life changed?
I quit studying because I was running away all the time. I missed two years of school. After that I came to this orphanage. I am doing much better here. I got a B in Russian, and I thought, Maybe I can do this. I started working hard. I still have to work hard. I plan to go to a school to become a car mechanic. I finished this year with two C's; the rest are B's.
What are your hopes for the future?
I am not a leader. I think other kids have a right to be leaders. I want to get a good profession, marry, and live with my wife, a child and my mom.
How does God help you in your life?
When I was a young boy there was a church across the street from my house. Children came there to get baptized. I became very intrigued so I decided to find out why they came. I peeked through the window for a long time. I was getting really tired, but I wanted to know. Believing is a big responsibility. My sponsor tells me God loves me and He blesses me. I’m thinking about it.
Children's HopeChest is a ministry that helps Russian orphans transition from orphanages to independent living. To find out more about their ministry and sponsorship program, visit www.hopechest.org.