Alla and Alexei

Alla and Alexei

Alla Koveshnikova is 26 and works as a public relations manager. Graceful, pretty and stylishly dressed, she spends her free time as a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Russia. Alexei, 13, has spent his entire childhood at a boarding school for children with developmental disorders and knows nothing of his past.

Alla and Alexei first met four years ago at a party that Big Brothers Big Sisters organized at Alexei's boarding school with many volunteers and even more children in attendance. 

Alla and Alexei get together every week to take a walk, go to a park or just hang out. Alexei was initially very shy, kept his distance and didn't say much until almost half a year later he finally began to gradually open up. When they got together after summer vacation, Alexei ran up to meet Alla. At this point Alla realized that she has an important place in Alexei's life.

Alla got Alexei to sign up for the soccer team. He was taking swimming lessons at the time, but really wanted to be a soccer player and learn to play like CSKA Moscow's Tomáš Necid or Germany's Georg Koch. Alexei also really wants to travel and visit the fjords in Norway. He loves learning new things, knows the flags and capitals of almost all countries in the world and enjoys reading, especially books about space. 

When Alla decided to become a Big Sister, she did everything from providing the necessary certificates and recommendations to taking volunteer training classes. Alla has always been very socially active; when she was 16, she volunteered for Greenpeace and took care of children at an orphanage. That experience made her realize that she would like to help older children who are already consciously figuring out who they are and coming across more serious life issues.

Alla has been Alexei's Big Sister for four years now, and Alexei can’t imagine the future without her and Alla is as determined to stay friends. Alexei really likes Alla's mother, sister and friends, all of whom have also become his friends. He feels safe, needed and confident when he is around them. Alla on her part will be by his side as long as he needs her.

Alla's friendship gives Alexei emotional support and the feeling that there is someone on the outside who is important to him, who can catch him if he falls. This is very valuable for a child with no ties to any of his family members. Most of all, he just has someone who believes in him no matter what. Alla is confident that Alexei will be able to make something out of himself. 

Alla's wish four years ago to help out and make a difference started a relationship that could be Alexei's life savior for many years to come.

Anna Bernikova Administrator, Rehabilitation and Correctional Education Center, Federal Institute for Educational DevelopmentAnna Bernikova