Over a Glass Wall Nadia means hope

In 2013 the Law “On Gradual Disbandment Structure of Children's Homes and Turn Them into Family-Type Homes” was adopted. So the government plans to save up to 2 billion UAH a year. This is also a good opportunity to socialize children in the family. On plan to 2025 year 70% of children from orphanage have to move to live with families. Nadia, Maria and Tetyana are women who are not afraid to raise other people's children, even with mental disabilities.

That night Violeta was not crying for the first time. Her exhausted, naked body was lying on the cold stone floor completely covered with bruises. Around her mouth were visible traces of rags used to forcibly close her mouth. Violeta was only 5 years old. Teachers and doctors of orphanage #2 of Kyiv region were preparing documents about the death of the girl, because they believed she would be dead in morning.

Nadia Salmanova is 56; she has 6 children. In 2006 she received the status of mother-heroine in Ukraine. The goverment gave her a reward equivlent of 10 living wages. The woman does not remember exactly how much money the government gave her, but recalls that she was laughing from that amount. Now she is living with her her youngest son, Vadim; he is 16. He is in school, but he is the best in householding. "For me the main thing is that my kids are kind and tolerant. Knowledge is possible to gain," says Nadia.

Nadia Salmanova, 56
Vadim Salmanov, 16

Nadia and her husband Fedir has 13 children now. All of them are stepchildren. Twelve years ago they were in the hospital with Vadim, who has serious bronchitis. There she saw children from an orphanage who looked very sloppy, were thin and not well-maintained. "When I saw them – it took a long time to calm down, I was crying all night," says Nadia. Back home she spoke about what she saw at the hospital to her husband. They thought long and what they should do, but both understood that children have to be adopted in order to be saved from the terrible life of being an orphan in Ukraine.

"At that time we had neither the means nor the conditions to take the kids. But still we went to the orphanage," says Fedor.

What Nadia and her family saw in the orphanage changed their lives. Shabby walls, acrid smell of urine and feces in the hallway. In the dining room they found rotten cabbage. The couple roamed through the orphanage until they met a security guard. Next was a long conversation with the director of the orphan house, who threatened to call the police. "We were not afraid because we knew that they would not call police in this horror," says Nadia.

They went to one of the worst rooms of orphanage and saw two little girls. They lived in this room almost from birth because their biological mother had abandoned them. The oldest sister Taya had cerebral palsy syndrome, and her younger sister Zoya had autism. The girls had never been outside the room because teachers were afraid to let them have contact with other orphans. Salmanovy decided to take the girls to their family. Taya and Zoya were the first adopted children.

Taya, 16, (in white) and Zoya, 15, (in green)

I remember that morning very well. A teacher from orphanage called me and said that they have something for me. I was so angry because I understood what they are talking about the baby.” Nadia says. She and her husband immediately went to an orphanage, taking clean clothes and sheets. They knew very well what to expect: a local orphanage never was able to take care of children. "They are really able easier to kill the child from hunger than wipe a snot." adds Fedor. Fedir and Nadia knew the way to the orphanage, because all of their foster children were there.

Fedir, 58, with his stepdaughter Lesya, 15

It was dawn, there were no clouds at the sky . "I thought then what a lovely sunny day would be," says Nadia. On the threshold at the orphanage the teacher was waiting them with a covered children body. Nadia and Fedor silently examined the girl and took her to the car, where covered with warm clean blanket and took the girl to her new home. Three weeks after the documents to transfer Violeta to the family of Salmanovy were ready.

6 billion UAH - that is how much Ukraine annually provides to the state budget for the maintenance of orphanages. Mostly the money spent on food and medicine for children, at least - on furniture repair.

The average salary of the teacher in an orphanage reached 2300 UAH per month. They work every day, the day or the night shift. For such funds agree to work mostly locals in regions, where is located. That’s why they are no professional teachers or doctors in orphanages. And the main problem is that employees who do not like children and can not find approach to them are performing mechanical work for child care. They just dress children for a walk and give them food timely.

Maria Yosych is 27. She is a happy and very tired mother of a 6-year-old boy named Anton. At this age children in Ukraine go to primary school, dress and eat independently. Anton can not do this. When the boy was 1.5 weeks old in the children's hospital he had routine vaccination against a number of viral diseases. However, the vaccine was of poor quality, so the body of a small child could not produce protective antibodies. Bacteria hit the boy's nervous system, and he acquired a syndrome of autism.

Maria Yosych, 27, during the music therapy class

Maria did not immediately realized that her child had problems. Doctors reassured her that her son’s slow response and lack of emotion was a normal reaction after having a vaccination. When Anton was 7 months she took him to other doctors who immediately diagnosed the autism.

“Perhaps there can be nothing worse than having a healthy baby, to see how fast he grows and develops, and then become literally vegetable,” says Maria. “It took me over two years to realize and accept this child.”

Maria says that when she blamed the doctors who vaccinated her child, they recommended she leave the boy in an orphanage and give birth to a healthy baby. It was so shocking to Maria, that she now she goes for treatment only to Poland because she does not trust Ukrainian doctors.

Maria founded the Foundation that collects not only financial assistance for low-income families with children with cerebral palsy and autism. The main task of the fund "Loving Heart" is to conduct training for children with disabilities and adapt them to the society, and to provide psychological support to parents. Maria plans to adopt a child soon. She doesn’t think about the money, she just wants to helm children be happy.

"Loving Heart" provides different therapy classes, which help children with socialization. Volunteers (moms of autistic kids) make hand-made accessorize for sale to earn some money for the center.

Tatiana Melnik is raising her 5-year-old Alex alone. Even during pregnancy, doctors predicted that her child would have mental disorders and suggested she have an abortion. The reason for this they said was her work stress, which adversely affected the fetus. Tatiana’s husband insisted that she have surgery and was very angry because the first 4 months of pregnancy his wife bore a healthy boy.

Tatiana Melnik, 29, showing her hand-made art-pieces

"He always wanted a son, and when we were told that Alex has autism or cerebral palsy, my husband was furious. He said, have an abortion, or you are raising this monster without me," says Tatiana. After his words about the abortion she decided to divorce, despite five years of marriage.

Tatiana says she accepted her son as a gift from God, because even before his birth she was ready for any "surprises." Immediately after the verdict of the doctors, Tatiana began to read the specialized literature on the care of children with autism. Tatiana found support in her family and with mothers of autistic children like herself. Her husband she has forgotten like a nightmare. Tatiana said that the birth of Alexei forced her to reconsider her values ​​and outlook on life.

Now Tatiana wants to find children with mental disabilities from Donbass and take them to her family. It will be difficult to do because she divorced with her husband. But Tatiana hopes to open minds of social services and their willingness to cooperate.

Alex Melnik, 6, in grey and blue

In a month Violetta will celebrate her birthday. Now she is able to dress herself, eat. She loves to play with her brothers and sisters. Violeta still does not speak, but it’s possible to understand what she wants. Fedir and Nadia only in one year could turn out a half dead child to absolutely healthy girl.

Besides Violetta goes to kindergarten in the conventional group, where can communicate with ordinary children. It is also good therapy for her. Very rare when it's bad weather Violetas autism is evident.

State social services, local authorities and educators must work closely and communicate. They should unite one common goal. Then the children will be happy.

Created By
Mila Duchak

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.