there once lived...
There once lived a woman whose name was Raisa. Raisa came to Moscow from Baku in the early 1990s. At that time, she was slightly over sixty. Volunteers noticed her in 2004, when they started distributing food to homeless people at the Kurskaya railway station. But the proud-spirited Raisa kept herself apart and did not approach them. When the volunteers themselves offered her help and food, she said that she did not need anything. The woman surrendered only two months later - she was in desperate need of warm socks which the volunteers found immediately.
Raisa lived in underground passages and at the stairwells of various buildings. Once, when volunteers were taking her for a walk around Red Square, she confessed that she had always dreamed of visiting the GUM Department Store. On Raisa’s birthday the volunteers arranged a surprise for her. They took her to GUM and gave her an album with photos taken together as a present. They also helped Raisa to move into a doss house in Lublino. After that, she changed and began to smile more often. In the doss house, on her bedside table, there was always an album presented by the volunteers. Raisa would often look it through.
In 2008, when Raisa was 78, volunteers were called from the doss house and told that she had been taken to a psychiatric hospital. It was not possible to find out what had really happened. The volunteers were not permitted to enter the hospital. When they managed to get there, they saw Raisa all bruised. The hospital staff claimed that she was brought from the doss house in this state. A few days later, she died.
On the photo, Raisa walks along Red Square with volunteers. She came to Moscow in 1992 when she was already 62. Before that she had wandered somewhere, but it is unknown where exactly as she did not talk much about herself
Raisa dreamed of visiting the GUM Department Store. And although she lived on the streets of Moscow for many years, she did not dare to go into this elegant expensive store. On her birthday, the volunteers fulfilled her dream. Raisa got into the GUM. She was also given an album where she would later paste the photos taken that day
1948, Baku. Raisa is 18 years old and she is getting married. A beautiful bride, a noisy feast celebration, a lot of guests. Everything is as it should be in Azerbaijan. But she never told anyone what had happened to her after that
A girl sitting in a white dress with a bear in her hands is Raisa. There was a time when she had a big family, parents, brothers and sisters. But, like other homeless people, she reluctantly recalled the past life
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 Raisa’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.
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© 2017, Takie dela
sa78 years old
Raisa has always found it difficult to admit to others that she needs help. Secretly, she dreams of visiting the GUM Department Store at least once in her life
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