Max, age 8, soon after he arrived
Imagine a poor rural family, two small boys and two alcoholic parents. “Sometimes we didn’t see them for days, once it was three weeks. The neighbours gave us food and even let us sleep in their house.” Inevitably the social services stepped in and the boys were taken to a ‘shelter’. Fortunately not long after, a couple from Kitezh, Misha and Masha, were looking for another child, or two children to take into their family. So in June 2008, a quiet but inquisitive little boy and his older brother Anton came to Kitezh ‘for a holiday’. Everywhere he followed his brother, who wanted to know how things worked. They were free to join in whatever activities they liked and it became clear that they were open and willing to participate in the life of the community. “I thought it was just another village in the country.”
The bureaucratic process proved difficult and disheartening, dragging on for months, owing partly to Max’s poor health at that time, but eventually, Max and Anton became part of Misha and Masha’s family - new parents with a new bigger brother. It wasn’t always easy, but Max liked having Sasha, the oldest boy in the family, to show him what to do and how things worked in Kitezh. But best of all was having Masha and Misha there, every day - “Every day! And nearby all day.”
“You know, when my natural father died, it was a shock, someone close to me dying - but it seemed ordinary too. After all he was always drunk. So when my mother died, it didn’t really matter. My REAL parents are Misha and Masha; they’re good to be with, they love me. Now I’m seventeen and I know if it wasn’t for them, I might be a drunkard on the street, or maybe I’d be dead.”
Next year Max will go to a top university in Moscow to study Geography (inspired by the Kitezh Geography teacher, Misha!), Maths and Russian. “I want to travel, I want to see this country, so maybe with these subjects I can get a good job where the boss will pay me to travel!”
This is not an unusual story, this is what inspires Kitezhans to keep on doing this work, year after year. A remarkably intelligent boy has the opportunity for education that would not have been available to him had he remained in an orphanage. The story from the parents’ side is often one of patiently enduring years of rejection and hostility from children whose life-experience has taught them to always expect the worst; until they are finally able to accept the love and care of Kitezh.
Now Kitezh is building, growing, inspiring others. Your donations have really helped to make a difference to Max and all the other children who have found loving homes and a unique education at Kitezh. However, these are difficult times: Kitezh needs your support now to continue its important work. Please make a donation now!
Brothers learning from an experienced volunteer
Still creating woodwork at 17 years old
With his Kitezh family in 2015