I’m against creating a ghetto for homeless people. From time to time, I hear the idea of building a huge settlement somewhere near Brovary: Well, that will never work. It doesn't make sense to create big centres; small centres located in different places are much better.
Our organization has one rented apartment, one of our friends pays for it. In 2013, we rented this apartment for 60-year-old Oleksandra who had been living on the street since 2002.
When we talked on the street, Oleksandra seemed completely OK; she had no problems with alcohol, she knew about political and historical developments, she was able to express her thoughts logically. But after she moved into the apartment, we noticed serious problems. She could not sleep, she started hearing voices, life in the apartment became unbearable for her. And then the Maidan began, and Oleksandra said that she no longer wanted to live here, she needed to go to save the country.
We then settled two women in the apartment, but it didn’t help one of them to give up drinking. We continue to communicate with Oleksandra on Tuesdays when she comes to our place at the train station for a meal – but mostly to talk.
Homeless people live with a constant feeling of danger. Theirs is a dog-eat-dog world, and everyone is against them. And when they are offered help, especially housing, it is difficult for them to accept it. By their standards, this is huge money. It is difficult for them to believe that people wouldn’t want anything in return.
On the street, you constantly think of surviving. You need to go to one end of the city for clean clothes, to the other end to grab a sandwich, then somewhere else to take a shower and spend a night. There is no time to think about global issues. And when all of a sudden you don't have to do it, when there is shelter, a shower and food, then you feel emptiness. I think people are often afraid of stopping and looking at their lives.