How to survive homeless in quarantine Moscow.

two months of a pandemic, the number of homeless on the streets of the capital had increased about two times. A special correspondent of “Kommersant” Olga Allenova spent with them one night in Central Moscow and find out who feeds them and how they survive.

At the beginning of June in Moscow there were continuous rains, the temperature did not rise above 11 degrees, the nights were quite cold. Sasha slept in the stairwell of the old house in the capital’s back streets — one day he saw a local man has entered the code, and has since come here on cold nights. His main objective was to become invisible. “I’ll come in when no one is around, he says. Immediately go upstairs. Leaving early in the morning.” On Sasha’s happiness in the Moscow houses of the upper floor and attic are still preserved grounds, not covered by bars with locks.

— And if she does, then what?

Sasha’s dark hair and blue eyes, a height under two meters. If you look at it from afar, the handsome guy does not look like a homeless. But up close the features of homelessness are immediately noticeable: smell of alcohol, which is embedded in the skin and in clothes so that even if Sasha doesn’t drink, the smell haunts him everywhere; untidy tracksuit with someone else’s shoulder, which two months was not erased; rubber flip-flops, put on cotton socks full of holes.

We will meet near the metro station “Chistye Prudy” at the beginning of June. Sasha came here for the food. Volunteers of the nonprofit organization “Friends of the community of Sant’egidio” a few times a week at a certain time to feed the homeless here. They asked me not to specify in the article the exact schedule, because they fear citizens ‘ complaints and police raids.

— you do something illegal? — I specified.

— No, nothing illegal — I said.— Volunteers wearing masks and gloves, to homeless people we immediately distribute protection, warn of social distance. But the locals might not like what’s next to feed the homeless.

Many volunteers in Moscow afraid of the police: despite the fact that in the distribution of food meets all sanitary-epidemiological rules, the police might decide that these standards are being abused at a mass gathering of people.

this has happened with volunteers of other NGOs.

“once the police to Clean security called metro, but then we stood for a long time, and right under the camera, — says Svetlana Fayn, the head of the organization “Friends of the community of Sant’egidio”.— On a different route sometimes approach the police to ask what was happening, but the problems we had. Recently a police officer even said we big fellows, we must help people, he also tries, thanked and left.”

the Distribution of food is fast. At the appointed time homeless ��fleeced on a small area, volunteers put the bags with food sets on the benches, Svetlana commanded loudly:

number Plates have recently appeared to break a lot of hungry people on the threads and to prevent large accumulations.

Homeless people are lining up to keep their distance. Svetlana picks up number plates and sends the queue to different shops, where people are waiting for the volunteers with food.

dark-Haired Lena in a brown cloak, even the mask can’t hide beautiful appearance, hands out the packages at arm’s length. Stray too close, freeze, carefully stretch out Lena’s hands. Thus social distance between the volunteer and the homeless is two outstretched hands.

I look at this procedure and I am surprised at how well everything is organized.

And the fact that hungry, useless, thrown overboard the normal life of the people, who are called asocial, irresponsible, lazy and to blame their miserable life, — shall comply with the rules three fragile girls and a skinny guy, behind which stand dozens of packages of food.

Distribution of proceeds of 20 minutes, during this time, none of the homeless does not violate the queue, neither is approaching to volunteers closer than is allowed, no one is trying to take on another.

Before the pandemic, the volunteers handed out food an hour later — this time, it was known to all the homeless, because that has not changed for many years. But by the time they appeared in this area, there has been a lot of homeless people.

— due pandemic, we could not allow such clusters, — Svetlana speaks.— Decided to come in an hour early. It turned out to be a very good solution — people were coming up gradually, getting food, so the hours are all gone. But a week ago, immediately got a lot of people, they already know that we have changed the time, had to come up with these numbers, to divide them into several groups.

While Lena and her partner Tanya food, I stand near here clearly visible both stalls and turn. Next to the guy in the mask and draped over the head hoodie and puts on a high curb just received from volunteers a package of food and asks me pointing to the node: “you Can unleash?” Node is weak, and I can not help but ask:

— why do you not untie?

It parses the food set — I see transparent lunch box lunch (buckwheat with meat), packs with salad and bread, pate in a jar, cheese in foil, boiled eggs, a bottle of water, biscuits. March food packages with food for the homeless have become more so had not at one time.

Previously homeless poured hot tea in disposable cups, gave out sandwiches which you can eat right here. Now all this is impossible — packingfood closed, there is on the street undesirable. But some homeless people are so hungry that you start eating on the go.

the Guy busily stuffing boxes with food in your backpack, there puts the empty package.

His name is Pasha. 30. I asked how long he goes here.

— for two months — is responsible.— Work has become less, not enough money.

Pavel was born in the Baltic, and in childhood moved to the Tver region — the mother is still there. After school went to Moscow, since he lives in the capital, earns on part-time work, live in the dormitory.

— What kind of work? Yes the work is complete. On construction sites constantly need people. But I go there, if it does… There is hard work to drag everything. You can still plant trees and shrubs in the garden. Recently hired us to plant trees, there not far from Moscow. Three trees, two fir trees, two birch trees planted. Tree healthy, one of the four of us were dragging. But the day three thousand I was given bad or something. Even the shops here are set, it shows on the bench with packages for the homeless — all of them time change, you know how much I have them in Moscow set?

— And how do you work it?

— Pay fairly, do not cheat?

— Me — not once, — not without pride meets Pasha.

In April, he left without shelter — due pandemic work has become less, to pay for a hostel there is nothing, Pasha sheltered in the country, where he installed a fence for a roof over my head, he promised to dig up the land and to uproot the old trees. But the money was not enough.

— I experienced, not just hit, he admits, here in Moscow will be hungry just lazy. The food in Kiev on Friday, on Wednesday in the lower Park of the station feeds the salvation Army, on Thursday on the upper Park to feed — I don’t know, but he was a couple of times-it was pretty good. Every day you can eat in the tent, not far from here on Nikoloyamskaya, they stand from 10 am seems to evening. Church.

“the Hangar of salvation” service “Mercy” — specify I.

— Yes, Hangar. There are many who feed. On Pushkin before feeding, but then our valiant police dispersed everyone, the local complained. There is one station near Moscow, there on Sundays to feed the Armenians, and on Tuesdays bikers, there are people of darkness, the 800 people coming.

I ask Pasha why he had not gone to his mother in the Tver region at the time of the pandemic.

He pulls out a backpack of cigarettes, from his pocket a lighter, but then, recollecting himself, he asked: “Can I smoke? Just need to move away”. We move to the next shop, he removes the mask underneath is very young, almost childish face.

— Here, you can survive — lighting a cigarette, he explains. Even clothes give out. Here in the same tent. But I myself buy. This is bought for 800 rubles — it shows up on his black hoodie.— I n someone else’se wear.

He really dressed clean and modern: jeans, black closed shoes.

I’m looking where shows Pasha, and see an old man in dirty clothes in an old torn cloth bag, galoshes on my feet, ankles wrapped in some rags. Hands shaking Vova, he eats greedily buckwheat, disposable fork falls to the ground, he picks it up and continues eating.

— Why Tashkent? — I ask.

— And who knows — meets Pasha.— Drove is.

And as he lives?

— And lives — from feeding to feeding. The food is good people will die. It is full of such. Who wants to work — not forced.

In these words, I hear a slight arrogance. It seems that Pasha struggles to oppose this Vovka-Tashkent and the rest of the poor souls who eat right there on the street the evening because it’s their first meal for the day. But he is desperately afraid to be in their place. Because the street does not spare anybody.

I ask Pasha where you sleep such as the wolf, not the same as Sasha manages to get into the capital’s entrances.

— Who’s in the heating duct is asleep, and who, as decent, in the Dorm, he explains. Heard that recently opened a free hostel in Mitino. Well, in trains, of course. From Moscow to Serpukhov two and a half hours, right? Here is the latest went there and back at 4 am go — sleep.

So the police in the trains.

Vovk-Tashkent quickly finished his cereal and drinking water from bottles, bows volunteers and goes to the side. Before reaching the station, swerving into something doorway and disappears.

Unnoticed, the area becomes empty — it’s only been half an hour, and it seems, was not here neither Vova, nor the queue with coupons. After the distribution of the food here is just as clean as before — not one plastic fork on the ground, no empty package.

we were Left with Pasha, volunteers and blue eyed Sasha is sitting on the bench, he’s eating crab salad and asked to tell the chef thank you.

Tasty, delicious, — he kept repeating.

I look at Sasha’s feet in holey socks, and I’m getting colder in this chilly windy night.

— You’re coming next time? asks his volunteer Lena, calling the day of the meeting at the same place.— We you shoes look.

— Come, nodding Sasha.— Look, please.

— Sasha, go tomorrow morning in “the Hangar of salvation”, there are given clothes maybe the shoes will find you, advises him volunteer Tanya.— You know where that is?

“No,” waving head Sasha.— I don’t find. I will come here.

We stand around Sasha, who eats his lettuce. He plaintively-begging view bottom-up and it looks like an abandoned, hungry teenager.

— that’s what prevents him to work? — quietly asked Pasha.— ZD��that forehead.

— It just seems — meets Lena.— He’s a kid. It must be the hand to take and to take everywhere. Lost people.

Sasha was in Moscow for six years. All this time living on the street. Says that came here from Crimea, there remained mother and sister. “They want me to take, — tells Sasha.— I’m not homeless, my mother is.” True or not, is difficult to understand. Phone Sasha no. Phone native — too. Passport lost. But his main problem, according to Lena, lost faith in yourself.

Sasha leaves the area in the same direction as Vovk-Tashkent Pasha C young volunteers goes to subway, and we with Svetlana fine — to my car. I promised to help her take the remaining from the distribution of rations in the “House of friends” — a social centre, where “Friends of the community of Sant’egidio” work with the homeless. Saying goodbye, she said to me: “I’ve been coming here since March, never before homeless is not fed. Come here, I see so much sorrow, so many broken lives… Survive, my heart breaks. And then go home and feel inside so quiet and peace. I can not understand why?”.

Maybe because in this day, somebody not died of starvation.

the car fit two volunteer community — Nicholas and Matthew, in the hands of their empty bags from the store “IKEA”. They fed the homeless “at another point” in the neighborhood, and today there is not enough food. They came to tell Svetlana.

55 packages not enough? — she asks.— How many hungry have left?

— Five is not enough — Matthew answers.

He says that the volunteers took 55 packages 10 and mini kits consisting of only one hot. All gone.

— I don’t remember, shook his head sadly Matthew.— We have to point people at 30 have always been.

Nicholas said that the next distribution of food will not be able to come: countryside samosoglasovannye his parents, and he needs them to go. Svetlana nods, “we’ll Find a replacement.”

at Night she writes on the website “” that needs volunteers for distributing food to the homeless, and somebody will respond. From this website after the start of the pandemic to the “Friends of the community of Sant’egidio” volunteers came Lena, Tanya and Nicholas.

While we’re going to “House of friends”, Svetlana Fayn explains that it was always difficult to guess where and how come homeless people.

— we Usually have on the Net is about 50 people homeless, she said. But with the start of the pandemic, this figure is growing, and the last time it’s 110 people. Today we took 110 of the packages, but to us it’s Pure 96 people, and at another point there were more people than last time.

Svetlana, teacher of Italian, she has many years on friendly terms with the activists of the Roman Generalins Sant’egidio is the oldest international charity organization that helps the homeless, refugees and the elderly.

In Russia, “Friends of the community of Sant’egidio” develop the same areas of charity, that of their Italian colleagues: there is a social center, apartment followed by accommodation for the elderly, a project to help the homeless on the street, support to migrant families and the elderly in nursing homes. Svetlana has long worked with the homeless, and as the head of the organization, and as a volunteer. She came up with letters for the homeless that volunteers put in packages of food. All these typed letters begin with “Dear friend!” but the contents have changed from month to month. In March they talked about the pandemic and the new sanitary rules of conduct in public places, and letters of 1 June reported that in many countries there are children who are starving, can’t go to school, have no parents. The community of Sant’egidio, arranges for such children in schools where they are taught to read and write, as well as feeding centres, where they are fed.

Sometimes, finding out about other people’s suffering, people start to look differently at their own, says Svetlana. She believes that compassion and desire to help treat.

— we Have a friend, she spent many years on the street, — tells Svetlana.— When in our apartment, followed by the spot opened up, we took her there. And this woman who suffered so much and, it seemed, could finally live on her own, volunteered to cook dinners for the homeless. And cooks! When one gives much, much is given to him too, I always see such examples.

social support Centre “House of friends” located in a small courtyard within the Garden ring is a former restaurant with a small kitchen, mini-Laundry and a large room where there are several desks, computers and bookcases. In the foyer at the front door — a table with preservatives and packaging of medical masks. In a large room, white walls and very clean. In the Laundry room with four washing machines and dryers in the corner by the window — a hair place, with a long wall mirror and chair. In the kitchen, Svetlana puts the remaining food packages in the fridge — here tomorrow, too, will come the homeless.

Here, the volunteers Packed food to carry on the streets of Moscow. For example, this morning they are laid out on large packages 220 food packages and 30 mini-sets. Day here homeless people can come for food and to do Laundry, use the computer and Internet. In the “House” always has a few volunteers who can help them. Svetlana says, sometimes people even can’t establish a connection with family and return home. Many people come to the House to just chat. Entry here the pre — everyone is assigned a time to avoid large crowds and control the situation. Often written directly to the food Bank. In a state of intoxication to come here is impossible.

“the pandemic we had to change the rules — says the head of the “House” Natalia Markova.— To the coronavirus we worked twice a week, taking 25 people a day. During a pandemic, we basically decided not to close, increased the number of days from two to three a week, but due necessary to have frequent disinfection increased the intervals between visits, so the day is now coming no more than 15 people. We have tried to organise all so that to avoid the risks for everyone.”

I consider books in a white bookcase is a classic, detectives.

— Reading? — ask the owners “Home.”

the Homeless people she sees on the street, can be divided into two groups: those once after the conflict, left home, lost social contacts, started drinking, moved from a rented apartment in the Dorm, and then on the street (mostly men); and those who came to the capital for work, but lost a job or become a victim of fraud (some of them are women).

I often see such people — they cheated, not paid for their work, — Svetlana speaks.— Such a person feels a doormat, a loser, his apathy. Unscrupulous employers a lot, and if a person lost a passport, then the chances that it will get trampled and deceived, increase. Many would like to work, but they don’t trust anyone, they are demotivated.

Svetlana believes that the fate of a homeless man — it’s a vicious circle from which self-escape is almost impossible.

— in order to go to work, you have to have a decent view and a place to sleep — she says.— Hostel and Dorm cost money. If a person has them, people just won’t be able to go to work. But even if he went out to work, stay there the first month extremely difficult. Let’s say he works at a construction site. Tired, hungry, no money to get to the charity feeding centre in no time.

Sometimes the community manages to organize the homeless to work — “Friends of the community of Sant’egidio” cooperate with the charity Foundation “Second breath”, which receives and sorts clothes, second-hand. “We with them have experience of cooperation, several of our homeless they took me in,” says Svetlana.

Against homeless people in Moscow is changing slowly, says my companion, but more and more commercial organizations, and ordinary citizens they During a pandemic, “Friends of the community of Sant’egidio” was collecting money to buy food for the homeless on a crowdfunding platform — the necessary sum was collected in just a few days. Occasionally here bring prepared hot food. All of may Buddhist center “Ripa” was prepared for the homeless 500 meals a week in June and continued to help. Embassy of Belgium has twice paid by the Belgian restaurant cooking for the homeless. Periodically their assistance in the preparation of food offered by the volunteers of the community — they helped the homeless appears pastries. In may, the Matreshka hotel provided accommodation for 15 homeless people. Natalia Markova remembers: “it was cold outside, and this support helped those who really needed a place to live. Food for them was prepared by a SMILE Event&Catering. At the end of may they went from the hotel to shelter that our colleagues from the organization “House of friends”. You should have seen how they have changed just because they have a house.” “Everything is difficult, many barely surviving — says Svetlana Fayn.— But more and more people support each other, share their money, time, skills. The only way to win.”

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