Igor was 3 years old when his father was killed in a drunken brawl. After that, his mother Svetlana’s health began to deteriorate rapidly for unknown reasons.
In 2011, Svetlana’s legs were amputated below the knees and she almost lost her sight. At first, her eldest daughter took her in, but due to extremely cramped conditions, the woman decided to return to her home in the district center of Vorobyevka. Igor was 11 years old, and he had to become the head of the family, taking care of his mother and running the household. They lived in an old collective farm dormitory with no gas or water supply. At first they hid their situation from the authorities, fearing that they would be separated. They were helped by friends and relatives, and eventually by the local authorities.
Despite everything, they did not complain about life and rejoiced in the little things.
A representative of the local authorities (center), accompanied by a journalist, came to find out how else to help the family. Gas and water were brought to their house two years after Svetlana’s surgery; before that, Igor had to chop wood for the stove and fetch water from a street pump.
In 2014, the situation changed fundamentally. Their story was shown in the popular TV show “Let them talk”. People from all over the world wrote them letters, sent them money and gifts. The Rostropovich Charitable Foundation paid for Svetlana’s rehabilitation in a German clinic, where she was fitted with comfortable prosthetics and tried to improve her eyesight at least a little. An unknown benefactor gave them an apartment in the town of Buturlinovka (50 km from Vorobyovka), and their eldest daughter and her husband helped to renovate and furnish it.
Igor and Svetlana in Germany.
Svetlana likes to go to church on holidays. She has many friends there who help her and Igor. For example, they collected money for a porch with a ramp and organized local men to build it.
Svetlana and Igor on the porch of the house, 2005.
Igor did not do well in school, but his teachers helped him.
Igor liked to spend his free time on the school playground. He told everyone that he had to exercise to become stronger.
Svetlana is at her parents' house.
Svetlana is in a new apartment.
Igor turned 18. He barely finished school and did not go to college. He received a summons to the army, with the help of human rights defenders they managed to get a six-month deferment as he takes care of his disabled mother. Svetlana’s health is constantly deteriorating. She has suffered cancer and a stroke. And they feel very lonely in their lovely apartment, as all their friends and relatives have stayed in the village.
When Igor and Svetlana were in Germany for the first time, one of their new acquaintances gave Igor money so that he could realize his dream: to buy a moped. But the next summer, when they left again for medical treatment, they left the moped in a friend’s shed and someone dismantled it for parts.
Svetlana jokes that she has been carried in her arms more often in the last 8 years than in her entire previous life.
Svetlana and Igor at the draft board of the military commission.
Svetlana in January 2016.
Svetlana in December 2018