My name is Veronika, and I’m 9 years old. I live in Krasnoborsk with my babouchka (grandmother), Maria Alexandrovna Iourileva. When I was born, my mother was very young.
She was 16 and didn’t know how to look after me. She left when I was 5 months old, and I stayed alone with my father. He didn’t know how to look after me either, he’s an alcoholic. Then, it was my father’s mother who took me in. She has a small pension (2.700 rubles a month, around 100 US$) as she worked for 38 years in an orphanage. She had a very tough life. She is ashamed of her daughter, and she left her husband as he was an alcoholic too. She never would have thought that her family could be this unhappy.
In my grandmother’s small house, she’s 57 years old, there is also my great grandmother who is 86 and very ill. My grandmother is very kind and gives me all that she can. With the UNESCO project, I go to the arts and crafts section of the cultural center three times a week, and I take part in all activities like skiing and theater.
My grandmother has a very beautiful voice. She sings in the veterans’ choir. She says that singing, and I think so too, helps us survive and keep hope. She encourages me in everything, she is proud of my successes and she gives me a lot of love.