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Russian Federation

A Russian mother in crisis finds security at a centre in Kostroma

© UNICEF Russia/2006/Svirid
Two-year-old Nastya is healthy and lives with her mother, thanks to help from the Kostroma Regional Centre for Social Support for Family and Children.

By Elena Kharitonova

KOSTROMA, Russia, 29 September 2006 – Two-year-old Nastya is an active child who loves to laugh and enjoys being photographed. Her mother, Tatiana, calls the blue-eyed little girl “the greatest joy of my life.”

Two years ago, their bright future together seemed out of reach. After Tatiana’s husband died from complications of alcohol abuse, she was forced to sell her apartment in Lithuania, after which she moved to Kostroma in Russia. She found work at a market but failed to gain Russian citizenship and soon lost her job.

Pregnant and in despair, Tatiana approached the Kostroma Regional Centre for Social Support for Family and Children, a UNICEF-supported programme aimed at family reintegration, child placement and prevention of institutionalization.

Food and health care

“I was deeply depressed and didn’t know where to seek help,” Tatiana recalled. “I had no money. I didn’t know whether I was entitled to receive medical assistance during childbirth.”

© UNICEF Russia/2006/Svirid
Tatiana with Natsya, the daughter she calls “the greatest joy of my life.”

This situation is all too familiar to many pregnant women in Kostroma, who don’t know where to turn. Desperate and alone, some women abandon their newborns to institutionalized care.

Tatiana received psychological and physical support at the centre. Staff members there issued food coupons to her and contacted health care providers so that she could receive medical assistance during her pregnancy. Lawyers helped her appeal to the proper authorities for temporary registration in Kostroma.

A new job and home

“Thanks to the help of these amazing people, I became confident of my abilities. When Nastya was born, I was assisted in buying everything a baby would need, such as a bed, a baby carriage and lots of other necessary things,” said Tatiana.

With the help of the centre’s lawyers, Tatiana was able to receive state-paid benefits. She also obtained a permit to live in Kostroma, where she has found a new job and a home for herself and Nastya.

“When people from the centre came to the hospital to greet me and my new daughter, I suddenly realized that I was not alone,” said Tatiana. “For me and my daughter, they became a real family. I don’t even want to think what could have become of us without their help.”



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