The Boy’s Story
It’s rare to come by a family like this nowadays. The Orlovs live in the Ural region, and they have four children. They go hiking and hunting together in the taiga, saving people by participating in rescue operations conducted by the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations and by working at a local hospital. Far away from the hassle of fast-paced big city life, they stay truly honest and genuine to themselves. The only thing that darkens their spirit is the sickness of their beloved son, Kirill…
Kirill’s older brother and sister are 23 and 16 respectively, and his younger sister is 18 months old. They live in Kerchevo Village, Perm’ region. During the time of the Soviet Union, their village was number one in the world for timber rafting and thus played an important role for the region’s economy. These days, there are hardly any people left here. Because of the lack of jobs, almost all of the younger population moved to bigger cities, leaving only older people behind. Kirill’s family is one of the only families in the village who decided to stay there and have more children.
Yury, Kirill’s father, worked all his life as a medical assistant at a local hospital, but he was laid off in 2007 as a result of the hospital’s downsizing. As of right now, he works for the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations and rescues people who have found themselves in hazardous circumstances. Two years ago in the summer, the region battled with multiple forest wildfires, and Yury participated in putting them out. He told us that a forest wildfire is a very scary event because it’s completely unpredictable. “A house fire,” he explained, “is a localized event, so it’s easy to understand its behavior. When you’re in a forest, you can get surrounded by fire in a matter of minutes, so a fire rescue mission is much more dangerous and complicated.” Kirill’s dad also is an avid hunter who loves the taiga, so he sometimes goes off hunting and spends lots of his time in the woods.
As you can see, life in this village is rather different from what we’re used to, and it seems like the modern day turmoil hasn’t affected it at all. Internet, for example, is quite rare here. Yury told us jokingly that during his stay in a Moscow hospital with Kirill he had to be taught how to refill his cell phone account using a cell phone company kiosk. He asked a few passers-by to help him with it, and they looked surprised and asked him if he had just come out of the woods. However, when we asked Yury to explain to us what timber rafting was (floating timber down a river), he couldn’t keep from smiling! It felt like we were from two different worlds: in our world, everyone uses trendy gadgets and feels cool, but if we found ourselves in the middle of the taiga, we would be completely helpless and laughable in the eyes of local population.
Kirill can be proud not only of his father, but also of his mother. She is a certified seamstress, but after the consumer services center in their village closed, she lost her job and went on to take a job as a janitor. At this time, however, she’s had to leave her job due to the birth of Kirill’s younger sister.
The average monthly salary in this village is 5000 roubles (approx. $161 US). Monthly cost of the prescription drug Cellcept that Kirill needs is 6000 roubles (approx. $200 US). It’s a fortune to his family. As soon as Kirill started treatment with Cellcept in Moscow his pain diminished, and he became active and cheerful. Upon Kirill and his father’s return to their village from Moscow, Kirill’s father planned to go to Perm’s chapter of the Ministry of Health and apply for the governmental coverage of his son’s medication. The application could be pending for more than a month (one month being the best-case scenario). Kirill’s pain could return without the medication, and his smile might disappear again.
Red-headed Kirill is a really bright and kind boy. When we visited him at the hospital, he took us to his room right away and showed us his books and a soap-bubble maker. As we were leaving, he blew us a kiss! The boy’s father Yury was in the hospital with him, and he also turned out to be a funny guy. It looks like the entire Orlov family is very positive and good-hearted regardless of all their difficulties!