there once lived...
There once lived a man whose name was Roma. When Roma was 33 years old, he came to Moscow from Mariupol to earn his living. He found a job as a technician at a factory. Soon he was fired and failed to find a new job. Since he had no money to pay for housing, he found himself on the street. Together with other homeless people, Roma began to live at a dump. When it was snowing or raining, they would cover themselves with polyethylene.
Roma had very poor eyesight and wore glasses with thick lenses. Once the volunteers noticed that he did not have one lense, they bought him a new pair of glasses. After that, Roma disappeared. It turned out that while he was sleeping, new glasses were stolen from him,
so he was ashamed to come to the food distribution point without them.
Roma loved Russian rock and constantly listened to it on the phone. At the dump he became friends with Igor. Several times they went to the Nashestvie rock festival together. They would get there through a hole in the fence to avoid paying for an entrance ticket. After the festival, they would always go back happy.
From time to time Roma got some part-time jobs, and would get little money for them. But at some point he started having health problems. One morning, he felt a strong pain in his legs. At the beginning, he would use crutches but later he completely lost the ability to stand on feet. He had to give up work. To unwind somehow, he would read all the time. He would be given books from libraries, from book-crossing shelves or from volunteers.
Long ago someone threw away a sofa which Roma found at the dump and made his favorite place to read. At the head of the sofa, there was a stack of books, mostly fantasy fiction. The stack always had a volume of Solzhenitsyn on the very top of it.
One night, four people, whom Roma had known, approached the plastic tent under which he was sleeping. They knew he had some money. Roma could not move, not to mention - run away. They beat him to death and took everything he had. Roma was buried by the Friends on the Street Foundation.
This is a real story, not fiction.
It has been 11 years that at the end of every winter, a memorial service for homeless people who died on the street is held in Moscow. This year, 96 names were read out loud as part of this memorial service. And Roma’s name was among them. It is yet unknown how many homeless people actually die on the streets every year.
By returning to homeless and nameless people their names and destinies we are trying to change attitudes towards them.
Share this project with your friends, and there will be less stories like that.
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© 2017, Takie dela
man40 years old
Roma wears big glasses, reads fantasy fiction and Solzhenitsyn, and also loves Russian rock
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there once lived...
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