Lena

Lena Grebenshchikova is 18 years old. She is an enthusiastic girl who is always in love. When she walks  through the doors of the Blagoye delo, she blows to employees kisses. In her free time she writes a book where she has superpowers and a boyfriend, of course. Lena came to us from an orphanage and now she lives in a supported living apartment. She is one of those who will live in the renovated Aristov`s House. The Blagoye delo adapts it for people with disabilities.

«If you give up, that’s it»

Lena wakes up at six in the morning, although the workshops open at ten. But she needs to get ready for a day of work. The girl has cerebral palsy, so some movements, easy for us, are not easy for her. Lena says that she adapted herself to an earlier routine particularly for the sake of work in the Blagoye delo.

«The labour is the most important thing for me. I have to learn and find myself, no matter what. I will find my purpose in life. This is my goal. I never give up, even though it is hard for me and will be hard forever. But if you give up, that’s it. There will be no way back, » Lena declares solemnly, looking into my eyes over the top of her glasses. 

When I asked her about what she learned during the supported living project, she answers that she can cook, although not quite confidently, since she has been in the Blagoye delo for only a few months — since the first of November. She immediately adds that she was able to do a little cooking before. For example, if her mom had eggs at home, she cooked herself scrambled eggs. And it was much tastier than instant noodles Lena had daily. «Yuck. I had to eat it all the time, » the girl adds.

I remember when we met, the first phrase she said was: «The happiest day in my life was the one I got into the orphanage». At the age of ten, Lena was taken away from her mother. Back then she could not walk, only crawled or used a wheelchair. The Yekaterinburg orphanage insisted on three surgeries. After the girl underwent rehabilitation and learned to walk. She uses a walker but still she does it herself. At first, she was lazy — it was painful and hard, but then she got involved, and now she can even walk up and downstairs.

I remember when we met, the first phrase she said was: «The happiest day in my life was the one I got into the orphanage». At the age of ten, Lena was taken away from her mother. Back then she could not walk, only crawled or used a wheelchair. The Yekaterinburg orphanage insisted on three surgeries. After the girl underwent rehabilitation and learned to walk. She uses a walker but still she does it herself. At first, she was lazy — it was painful and hard, but then she got involved, and now she can even walk up and downstairs.

Love is a superpower

Lena remembers her family — she has two elder brothers; they were also taken from her mother. The girl misses them very much, she even has a family photo on her screensaver. But neither her mother nor brothers visit her. She has to settle for some occasional messages in social networks. But Lena decided not to focus on the bad, but see the good in everything. Gratitude and faith in goodness help her.

Lena is sociable. She likes to talk about literature. She loves fiction and detective stories, but all those books should contain a love story, that`s crucial for her. I ask her which books are her favourite. She says that the «Chasodei» and «Harry Potter» series, the stories about wizardry, are on the first place. The «Harry Potter» books are about a boy who managed to cope with evil because he was full of love.

Lena is also writing a book where she is a protagonist and saves the world from vampires. Her invincible squad consists of brothers and all friends she met throughout her life. In the story, Lena is a werewolf and knows how to control fire. Coincidentally, she played sorceresses in the performances staged in the orphanage: the Good Witch of the North in «The Wizard of Oz» and the fairy of nature in «Superhero Children». Lena really has magic power of attracting and endearing people towards her. One of them is Yulia Yaroshevskaya, the «Pro.Dobro» volunteer, she helped Lena to get into the Blagoye delo. Yulia is convinced that in the future Lena can become a good mentor thanks to openness and kindness.

Trust, support and responsibility

Before her 18th birthday, Lena visited the Blagoye delo several times – at workshops for children from orphanages. Afterwards, she told Yulia Yaroshevskaya, her friend, to talk to the director of the workshops. «Lena instantly accepted and loved the Blagoye delo and we couldn`t help but reciprocate», says Vera Simakova, the director general of the Blagoye delo NGO. Besides, her 18th birthday was approaching, and nobody wanted to send her to a neurological care home.

«Everyone here is very calm. They believe in me, trust me with my work, and support me. I am happy that I was accepted into this large team and I am glad that I have many friends here», Lena says and adds. «Now I am in charge of the coupons I use to go to work. It’s my responsibility to cut them off and make sure they don’t run out. It’s important for me to do everything right»

Lena in an supported living apartment with a neighbor Vanya

For some reason the administration of the orphanage assumed that Lena would be able to live on her own. But how? Lena has no relatives ready to accept her, and she has never lived without care for a day. The Blagoye delo team helps to adapt to the independent life. They teach her things about the world that are unknown to people from orphanages and neurological care homes.

In order to help as many people as possible, we are restoring the Aristov`s House, where people with disabilities will live. The building is in the Verkh-Neuvinsky village not far from the workshops where Lena works.

Written by Ekaterina Yurkova