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  Homeless and alone: Russian street children
Updated 05 March 2003, 16.59
Jura lives in a cellar with some other children
By Laura Jones
Newsround Extra, St Petersburg

I had never been to Russia before and I was expecting it to be very cold but when we got off the plane and walked outside it was so much more freezing than you can ever imagine.

I had so many clothes on - scarf, hat and gloves and it was still really cold.

One million homeless kids in Russia

It was at that point I realised just how difficult life must be for the 30,000 children in St Petersburg who are homeless.

Russia is a country that has loads of problems. A lot of people don't have jobs and many people have a problem with alcohol.

This means that life at home is very difficult for lots of children. Many families don't have enough money to buy food and clothes for their kids so they end up having to beg.

Many parents are so drunk a lot of the time that they can't look after their children properly. This is why so many children end up living on the streets

And we wanted to find out what life was like for them.

Babies are often abandoned

We visited the only hospital in St Petersburg that helps homeless children.

It's called Tsimbalina and looks after children of all ages and tries to find them places to go and live.

This baby was abandoned
This baby was abandoned
There was a little girl who had been bought to the hospital the day before we visited. The staff thought she was about six months old, but didn't know for sure, they didn't know what her name was.

They say she was always shaking and the staff thought that was because she had been born to a mother who was either a drug addict or an alcoholic. They thought this would probably affect her for the rest of her life.

We wanted to go and meet some children who weren't being looked after so we went to the cellar underneath a huge block of flats in the middle of the city.

Dirty and scary

We had to be very careful climbing down through a very small door and some very steep stairs to the cellar because if anyone had seen us they would have known that children were living there and they might have tried to get rid of them.
No one knows this boy's name
No one knows this boy's name

The ceiling in the cellar was very low and we had to bend down the whole time we were there. It was filthy dirty, it smelt, and there was rubbish all over the floor. There was a pile of blankets in a corner, which the three boys shared as a bed.

Maxim, Roma and Jura have lived there for a month. They were very proud of it although it must have been a horrible place to live and very scary at nighttime.

Kids rely on charity

There is no government help for children like this and they rely on help from charities, like Children in Crisis, who provide food, clothes and support for the children that no one else cares about.


 

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