In 1944, my grandma was born in the small city of Pushkin in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She was not your ordinary little girl, as she possessed vast amounts of courage and strength to combat the challenges she faced in her youth.
She was not a planned pregnancy for her parents and they did not have sufficient funds to take care of her. This had led to her abandonment in front of a Russian Orthodox orphanage/church, which was dark and gloomy, and the food was minimal and awful. Harsh discipline was a central part of the upbringing of the orphans. Love and emotions were not present or permitted. All the orphans seemed to feel lost and abandoned, as if they had no purpose in life and no future in sight.
Seven years later, on a dark, gloomy day, my grandma felt sad and hungry. She knew that the nuns would not offer food until much later in the day, which felt like an eternity. So she built up the confidence to find food independently and share it with others, who were also suffering from starvation. A nun caught her sharing food with the others and asked, “Who got this food?” Grandma answered, “It was not them at all, it was all me.” She knew she had to take the blame to make sure no one else got hurt because of her actions. She was beaten and had to do horrendous chores around the orphanage that were not suited for a seven-year-old child.
The day after stealing the food, she found another stash and hid it in her bedroom to share later with her fellow orphans. And she did not stop there. At the age of 17, she was fed up with the mistreatment she had endured, and escaped to have a better life with fewer rules and less control. But after exiting the orphanage, she felt a big wound in her heart, like something was missing, so she went back to rescue some of the younger children and save them from what she went through. Her actions were not for her benefit, but were for the good of others.