“Mayak” in Russian means “lighthouse”. I met this organization about two years ago and have been working with them for almost a year now.
When you see such involved and dedicated people so spontaneously, you want to be with them. The coronavirus issue is blocking my active presence as a volunteer a bit. I myself have had covid-19 twice and this has forced me to step back a bit.
When we made the decision to close the Novoaltaisk house, we had to think about what to do with some things. For this reason I started looking for people to help others. We already knew the Catholic organization Caritas, so the material that we used for extracurricular activities with children and young people went to them, but there were also other things from the house. This gave me the opportunity to meet many more people working in the field of solidarity.
What does this small center do? It helps people who do not have a home, who live on the street and not by choice. Those who work, or rather perform a service of this kind, know that there are people who, for various reasons, choose the street and a temporary shelter is needed for them. But there are also people who can be rescued and their total abandonment can be prevented. “Mayak” has been operating since 2015 and in this time has helped about 3000 people to get off the street: men and women.
The capacity of this Center consists of a shelter for 32 people. Two rooms for men and one for women. For them, there is a consultation service on social and legal issues and their rights are defended.
Twice a week a minibus goes around the different areas of the city (2 stops) to give and share a hot meal, a cup of tea, provide clothes and toiletries. At the same time, an attempt is made to inform about possible alternatives to the street. As I write this article I learn that the service is temporarily suspended. Work is currently underway to prepare the Center’s kitchen. We hope that Providence will help to resolve these difficulties. In the same Center there is a room for storing clothes, where a volunteer sorts them and distributes them to people who need them.
In the situation in which we find ourselves, for me, collaborating with “Mayak” is a valid apostolate that helps us to accompany others and teaches us to collaborate. After the rethinking of the mission in Russia, of how to “be” and “do”, we are in constant search, and for now I have the possibility to make this kind of experiences for the good of others.
I am also available to collect watches, alarm clocks, radios, glasses, mirrors and take them from Italy to Russia. Because sometimes in the community there are these things that we don’t need anymore, but they can be useful for others. If any community or person wants to make an act of charity during this Advent or Christmas period, please contact the editors of this magazine.

~ Thanks to Sr. Tatiana Avdokushina MSC and to the Mater Gratiae Province newsletter for this article.

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