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1 Jan, 2010 03:31

When the New Year comes to the homeless

While many people celebrate New Years Eve with family and friends, there are those for whom the holiday is not that merry. There are almost three million homeless in Russia - making up 2% of the country's population.

Being left alone on the street is mostly unbearable for homeless people, but once a year they meet their very special Santa.

“We meet homeless people on the streets and try to stay in touch,” says volunteer Natalia Markova.

The volunteers call themselves "Friends on the Streets". Two days every week they dedicated their lives to helping those who have nothing and nobody. This New Year they are hosting a party at one of the Moscow railway stations for those forced to live on the streets.

Volunteers cook, talk and make friends.

Viktor, who is homeless, comes to the meetings regularly. He says these people help him so he is not driven to despair.

“Sometimes they take us out to play football or volleyball! We play with other teams in Moscow. And on this special day they're here with us!”

The invisible nation is two percent of Russia's population. They do not like to talk about how they ended up on the streets, but in spite of the common belief, it is almost never by their own choice.

Many homeless people are psychologically scared of life, so apart from the obvious difficulties of living on the streets; socializing is a big problem and the gift of friendship is priceless compared to donating bare necessities.

Thus, the volunteers prove they have enough room in their hearts for both their loved ones and those who have nobody to share the holiday with.