I am Sakura, happy to exist

A story of difficulty and hope from Novosibirsk (Siberia).

Alfredo Fecondo is pastor of Saint Augustine’s in Novosibirsk and Sant Joseph’s in Berdsk (Russia). In the photo, a pilgrimage with the local community.

Years ago, Elena, a woman from my parish in Akadèm, helped Sakura (the name is fictional) to retain her job. From that moment forward, Sakura started to come to the parish. Some time later, we invited her to the summer vacation of the community. On the second day, I discovered that she had asked five people for money. We talked among the responsibles and we asked Elena to look out for her. We had come into contact with an unknown girl, who came from a difficult and painful past: abandoned in an orphanage by parents she had never met, an attempted adoption by an Uzbek family, abandoned a second time, subjected to cruel treatment (tied to her bed, hypnosis, etc.) that she suffered because of her insubordination. Sakura worked and lived in the neighborhood of the parish where she created a web of stable relationships.

However, she complained about having too small a paycheck. We later discovered that she had multiple debts that she was unable to pay. We tried in vain to organize a monthly budget for her. Some friends helped her to find another job in the city: the pay was higher; the conditions seemed better. The factory gave her a small apartment with a kitchen garden but it was fifty kilometers from where she worked; Sakura would have had to get up at 4 in the morning. In the end, she wasn’t able to adjust to the rhythm, she got into some trouble and lost her job. She found herself, as had already happened when she was young, in a wheelchair and alone. We proposed that she go and live with the sisters of Mother Teresa, who we had met thanks to charitable work.

We had come into contact with an unknown girl, who came from a difficult and painful past.

The alternative was a shelter for the mentally disabled. She opted for the first option, and through the sisters, we found a psychologist willing to reconstruct Sakura’s journey. But one day, she fled in her wheelchair, refusing to return to the Sisters, who nevertheless offered her a one-room apartment and continued to look after her.

The psychologist proposed to our community that we break contact with her for a bit, for her to realize its value and to not take advantage of it for her own ends. We obeyed, but after a couple of months she came back looking for me. “Father, I’m pregnant”, she said to me. What a blow! In a wheelchair and living alone. She wouldn’t say who the father was. “I’ve thought about getting an abortion”, she added. After a moment of silence, I said something to her. After a few months, Sakura gave birth to Rinàt Isak, Renato Isaac, a spectacular baby whom I also baptized. Now Sakura asks me for the sacraments once a month. She is changed: she asks for help, but without pretension. Elena, Sveta, Igor, Bao, and Katia accompany me when I go to visit. The last time was a Sunday. We celebrated the first birthday of Rinàt.

Going for a walk, Sakura preceded us in a motorized wheelchair. While the girls were looking after the baby, she said to me: “Father, do you remember when I talked to you about getting an abortion and you said to ask myself if I was happy to exist? Well now I can tell you that I am happy. Thank you!”

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