”I feel free now!”

The story of a young man, who has lived in a boarding school for 17 years

DSC02116 Marin is an optimistic young man, with a lot of courage, dreams and hopes, who, at the age of 17, had the courage to say: „That’ it. I do not want to live in a boarding school anymore! I want to live in the community, make friends, and make tea by myself!”

Marin is at home one month, together with other five young men, former residents of the Orhei Residential Institution for children with mental disabilities. The 5th of March 2014 was the happiest day of his life – the day of transfer to the Falesti Supported Living social service, called „home” by Marin and his colleagues. At home, life is completely different from the one in the boarding school. „I feel free here. Together with the boys, we decide on what and when we shall eat, when we shall work. We learn a lot of new things; we have neighbors, who are very affable”, says Marin.

The change was what Marin most wanted, while living in the boarding-school. He knew it was not going to be easy. He knew there would be many obstacles and difficulties to face. He had moments, when fear and doubt were overwhelming. „While in the institution, we were repeatedly told: „You seem to think that your life in the community will be better! You will want to come back to the institution. Out there, you’ll have no food!” remembers Marin.

DSC02014Initially, he was flinching at every rustle. He could not sleep at night and was having nightmares. He had dreams of unknown persons entering the house to steal their things and he could not defend himself, as his locomotor disability stopped him from running away or defending himself. Arthrogryposis is a condition he has acquired at birth. It is well known that any recovery intervention should be performed at the appropriate time. If the surgery had been made at an early age, the likelihood of Marin to move without support would be very high. The neglect of administration of residential institutions deprived him of this opportunity, as well as of the possibility to wear glasses and hearing device. „When I left the institution, they took my glasses. They said they were not mine, they belonged to the institution”, says Marin. Also, while living in the institution, Marin’s hearing has not been investigated, although he has a hearing impairment. The investigations have been conducted only after he left the institution. Thanks to the generosity of the Republican Centre for Audiology, Marin will more easily understand messages of people around, as this center has donated him a hearing device worth about 8000 lei.

Life in the community is not easy. When, during 17 years, one has been deprived of the possibility to make decisions, choices, the freedom seems a huge, unknown ocean, full of challenges and dangers. Despite of all the obstacles, Marin has a positive thinking. His faith in God is his source of energy and hope, as well as the few close people, whom he met at different stages of life: „I know it will be fine! I will only have to fight hard!”

Nelea Panfil,
Psychologist, Keystone Moldova

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