Olesya and Masha

Olesya and Masha


"Masha and I met each other in December 2007. I came to Big Brothers Big Sisters with a sense of purpose. I was looking for such program before I even knew it existed. My friends from other NGOs told me about it and where to apply. From the very beginning, I liked professional approach to finding volunteers and their training. I liked the psychological testing and lectures on children`s psychology and emergency training from the Red Cross. After the training, my case manager chose a girl for me, we met each other and agreed to maintain the match.

I would say that Masha and I are very different in almost every way!.  everything! And Because of this, to it we can learn new things from each other and we make each other better. It is very important to have realistic expectations about relationships with a child. It`s not like you’re saving someone, or doing someone a favor, or you must do do all the work. It`s all mutual. Many people have the wrong impression  about volunteering  in such programs. I’ve heard lots of wrong ideas, for example that child will get attached and it’s unhealthy for him, or that he doesn`t need a mentor or that it`s won’t help him but instead only makes everything worse. This is all not true.

If you feel that in your heart you have room for someone else, be sure to fill this space with service towards a child who lacks adequate care. It is a much better way to fill your time and ward off boredom or loneliness.

Since  I started meeting with Masha, my life became more meaningful. And I hope her life did too. I really care what happens in her life. I get upset if I realize that she messes up.  Although in her case I have more reasons to be proud. She is interested in sports and she is beautiful J She always shows me awards from her football, skiing, and swimming competitions. She sings and dances very well. Once when I was out of town she called me and asked me to buy a newspaper called  “Sport Express” because there was her picture with a minister. At first I thought it could be a mistake, Masha often confuse things. She can never clearly explain what she did or where she went in details. But I bought the newspaper anyway and found an article there called “Masha and Minister.” The article described a football competition between orphanages, organized by the newspaper, and there was indeed a picture of Masha with the Minister of Sports. After that Masha was very proud for two weeks but soon it all passed and she got  back into the swing of things.

During our first year we went to museums pretty often. But she didn`t like them very much. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to surprise children from Moscow orphanages because their leisure time is very well organized, even better than for children from families. Exhibitions, concerts, competitions, performances… I didn`t have such variety in my childhood. But I had a mom and dad who supported me whenever things went wrong or I had an argument with someone. Masha didn`t have such people behind her. The thing that I became this person for Masha (at least a little bit) and it gives me a very warm feeling. Even though guardians try their best, there are so many children they need to care for and they can`t handle them all. I have only Masha. When she is upset, she can call me and I will find some nice words to say or I will just come and give her a hug and we will sit silently together.

It`s not necessary to love all people, try to love just one particular child and there will be one tear less in the world!”


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