by Maria ivanova
Survive the winter
Hundreds of homeless people die every winter because they do not have a place to sleep. Official "Night houses" requires a set of documents and, ironically, the registration in St. Petersburg
Humanity vs. Burourcacy
Cold wind, rain, fog — winter in Saint Petersburg is coming for a few month. While for somebody the 1st of December is a significant day because the New Year is approaching and "officially" winter began, for others it is a chance to sleep not on streets.

A few districts in the city opened warm shelters to save people from death. However, there are four of such places in the city. The biggest ones can be used by 50 people, the other one only by 28. All in all, 158 people each night have a real chance to survive. According to NGO "Nochlezhka", there are 70 000 homeless people in Saint Petersburg.

Temporary home, temporary family, temporary life
Misha is strictly looking at the people who are coming to the shelter. He is working here for two years. He is trying to speak in a grouchy voice but fails all the time. People who are coming to the shelter already know each other from the previous years.

"People stop me on the street "Uncle Misha, when will they put the tent?", - Mikhail is trying to be in touch with his wards during the whole year.

"Do you want some tea?", - Sergey, Misha's partner, also trying to look severe but still welcoming people like at home. Both orderly know everybody by name and speak like with old good friends. And they are, in fact.

"People who live here feel like a family.", - Mihail says and you can hear how proud he is.

There is a small table with a tea and some sweets. People here are homeless but definitely not greedy. Mix of various snacks, tea and medicines is free - take whatever you wish.
A book which looks like a school journal is also there. When you come, you must sign in, tell your name, age and city. So far there are just a few pages with information but in a few weeks a new book will be needed. I look into the book: many of people are originally from Petersburg.
Internal heat
There are several ways to keep the tend warm. It depends on how much money and effort can you invest. It could be either oven with pressed wood or diesel fuel. Mikhail and Segey use the second one: they don't have money for an oven. This is the cheapest one but the it gets smelly and stuffy inside. Before go to sleep, people wait outside: smoking, chatting. Each of them has a special story.
Golden ring for a family
When I ask Mihail what was the most touching story for him, it takes a while to decide. "One of the most recent ones, for example. A woman divorced with husband and stayed with 16 years old daughter. A woman got sick and issued the apartment for the daughter to be on the safe side. Daughter told it to dad, got a few golden rings from him and decided to live with him. Together they kicked her out of the apartment."
At these words, Olga, the hero of the story is coming to the tent. She seems lost and confused. Keeps asking if it is alright and won't she bother anyone if she takes place at the shelter.

We all come in. "Here is your place", - Sergey point at the blue cover in the corner. He catches my surprised eye and answer unspoken question: when you stay for some time, you get your own, a bit private place.

Olga instantly goes to sleep. She is breathing a bit too calm for a sleeping person but this is also a way to keep your privacy and stay face-to-face with your own thoughts.

"We built this house"
Rain is getting louder and setting melancholic mood.

"I always want to listen to "Scorpions" when the weather is like this", - unexpectedly says Misha. "I love them and Deep Purple. Was a few times at their concerts, when I lived in the US."

I'm surprised again and asking when and why did he live there.

"All my family is there. Most of them in LA but a few in Philadelphia. I lived there with my mum but then came back. I don't speak English but I need to communicate, be with people, talk to them. And this is the best place if you want to be with people and learn something about them."

Zenit-Ufa - 1:1
Suddenly a guy runs into the tent. "Zenit scored!". Seems like nothing can make him happier. Men start to discuses the Champions League and their favorite players. With tea and sweets on the table it's very simple to forget that it's a shelter for homeless but not a club of interests or just a few friends chilling together.

"You know our rules", - Sergey and Mikhail became really strict in a second. The boy is starting to explain that he didn't drink and everything is fine. However, he has to leave now and come back when he is sober.

Rules about alcohol and some deceases well-known among homeless. You can't get a place or food if you are drunk. Even closed bottles of alcohol are prohibited. Though nothing too cruel: you will get them back next morning.

One of the most important things about the tent is that you are not asked for any papers or documents. Nevertheless, they ask everybody to go and check their lungs for free. Tuberculosis is a serious issue for homeless. In the hospital they also can go to sauna and get some basic medical treatment.

The drunk boy came back. His steps are a bit more confident now. He can focus his eyes and tell his name. Humanity wins over rules and Misha takes the book to register him.

"You call yourself Belov now... Why did you use the name Shtukin before?", - asks Mikhail with curiosity in his eyes. Guys around him are laughing. It's already warm and cozy, everybody understands that he will let him in.

"May be, it was his twin-brother?" - comments somebody from the crowd.

"May be, may be", - sights uncle Misha and writes his new name.

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