Do good: hope for Laishevo District citizen

The family of Alsu Khabriyeva with the first disability status recently received congratulations on their housewarming party. The family from a remote village where it was nearly impossible to seek necessary medical advice had moved to a flat with all conveniences in the regional centre. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Wishing good and happiness

Head of the municipal district Ildus Zaripov first and then head of the apparatus Azat Nurmukhametov with colleagues have arrived to congratulate the Khabriyevs family on their new flat with bunches of flowers, chak-chak and small gifts that are designed to make the new place cosier.

According to the head of the municipality, the new flat isn’t the only present that awaits Alsu. A new wheelchair will be delivered to Laishevo these days, while businesspeople of Laishevo District helped to raise 130,000 rubles to purchase it.

No roads, no comforts, no timely help

21-year-old Alsu Khabriyeva with her parents just recently used to live in such conditions. The girl has the first disability status, she was recognised as disabled. Her mum Gulgena Khabriyeva has custody of Alsu who cannot walk herself, stand up or talk.

“There are no roads there at all. There is no gas. The wind blows inside the house. It is impossible to live there in winter. One room is heated where we used to gather with the family. There are neither groceries nor hospitals. An ambulance cannot arrive because the road is covered with snow in winter and with mud in spring and autumn so it is impassable: it is impossible to walk, drive a car, go for a walk,” this is how Gulgena Khabriyeva describes the family’s life in Sapugoli village, which is 47km far from the regional centre, Laishevo town.

The heating in the house in Sapugoli is electric. And the family that is already forced to find any possibility to save money for another appointment with medics, examinations and rehabilitation had to pay 15,000-16,000 rubles for electricity in summer, while in winter the electricity bills could go up to 20,000 rubles.

The family moved to Laishevo District more than 10 years ago. A local rehabilitation centre became the reason for such a move. The establishment, which is located in the regional centre, Mrs Khabriyeva thinks, is the best in Tatarstan.

“It has the best specialists, with a special approach to such children as Alsu,” the woman confidently claims. With a degree in medicine (she graduated from the Military Medical Academy in Saint Petersburg), she knows what she is talking about and the importance of the contact between the doctor and the patient. Now her daughter needs rehabilitation at least three times a year, and six at best, to avoid complications.

“If we do not receive massage, without rehabilitation, she goes numb. Alsu feels bad. She has severe spasticity. She starts to develop difficulty breathing and coronary artery spasm and feels very bad. Our haemoglobin often goes down. We cannot do without medical advice. Haemoglobin falls to 38 at times, and we need IV,” the girl’s mum explained. To get timely help, it is necessary to be as close to advanced medical centres as possible.

After moving to Laishevo, the Khabriyevs started to live in an old flat for two families. They tired of a constantly leaking roof and fissures in the walls. No matter how much they tried to repair the flat, the worn place didn’t become better. Over these years, the Khabriyevs had been in a queue to improve their living conditions through a state programme, which is aimed to help citizens with disabilities.

Once it became possible to solve the problem on their own — they were offered to buy a house in Sapugoli. It looked new and beautiful from the outside. In summer, though the construction of the second floor wasn’t finished, it made a pleasant impression. It was a timber, beautiful house with cladding, heated floors. Also, a road to a neighbouring settlement was promised to be laid. And they moved in.

Gulgena Khabriyeva immediately began to improve the household plot, planted flowers. But it didn’t turn out to be so smooth. The family lost the right to get a flat in a programme to improve living conditions. The road and a grocery didn’t appear in the end because the landlord who built the settlement hadn’t yet handed it over to the municipality. And instead of the delights of living in nature, the Khabriyevs came across impassability, the impossibility of going anywhere as early as autumn. An ambulance would not find the family, medics would not go through the road that turned into a mudflow. In winter, the house was frozen almost completely. “We even had to sleep in clothes,” Mrs Khabriyeva recalls with terror. One day at the height of winter, she had to go through uncleared heaps of snow with her daughter and a wheelchair in her arms to take Alsu to hospital. The girl’s temperature immediately went up, and she had to be literally rescued.

This cannot go on this way anymore, Mrs Khabriyeva understood. She told head of the administration of Laishevo District Ildus Zaripov about her trouble.

Zapirov chaired Laishevo District in 2019. He took the problem of the Khabriyevs to heart.

“The girl’s mum went from office to office trying to get a flat to improve their living conditions on the basis of republican programmes supporting childhood disabled people but achieved nothing. We learnt about it. The family faced a very serious life challenge... We wanted to help immediately, improve the situation somehow,” the head of the administration of Laishevo District said.

It wasn’t possible to return the family to the state programme at local level. Even though it had been possible, it would have taken much time to solve the housing problem, while they needed help as soon as possible.

Birth injury

The Khabriyevs family has three daughters. The oldest daughter graduated from Kazan Institute of Culture and Art. Now she is teaching there. The middle daughter works in a bank. Both daily go to Kazan. While Alsu is disabled at birth, needs constant care.

“We have a birth injury, the vertebrae were displaced. We underwent surgery in Moscow, so now an artificial vertebra is pushing all the vertebrae. The spasticity is severe. We have been abroad, everywhere. They don’t agree to do surgery only because our haemoglobin falls. They fear. So we live as we can,” Mrs Khabriyeva sadly sighs. The girl is not only unable to walk herself, but she is also unable to stand up or sit down. To raise a spoon and take it to the mouth is an unattainable task for Alsu today.

Even though the girl hasn’t been able to do simple and habitual actions since childhood — to clearly talk, move and walk herself, eat food and drink — Alsu keeps her spirits up. She likes to be in the limelight, knows how to be a careful listener, adores music and observes children play and run. She loves nature, for instance, seeing a river flow. Also, she is a TikToker, has accounts on Instagram and, she has over 500 followers. She loves to travel and meet people.

“She has a lot of friends around the world. We meet them during rehabilitation. It is people from Baltic states, from Dagestan. We chat, talk. They also talk with each other somehow. They understand each other,” the girl’s mum says.

From despair to hope

In April 2021, preparations began in Laishevo District: the administration started to look for a house.

“Options of flats were found within the shortest time possible. We offered to choose a flat near Kazan in Gabishevo, in Peschanye Kovali and several flats in Laishevo. The family chose a flat that’s convenient for them,” Ildus Zaripov described the stages of how the problem was solved.

“We saw flats both in Gabishevo and Stolbishche, but as soon as we came here, we understood it was ours. The air, the beauty. We go for a walk. It is wonderful on warm days. Alsu likes to observe children. It is convenient here and everything is at hand. We like to walk in Laishevo in general. We go outside and walk in the city,” Mrs Khabriyeva shares her joy.

Also, calmness started to reign in the family for the first time in many years, Alsu’s mum said:

“As soon as the problem started to be solved, haemoglobin hasn’t fallen even once. As soon as the process began, we all calmed down. And we haven’t had seizures over this time.”

The house was built within a special project: high ceilings, a spacious bathroom and toilet, with a wide corridor leading to the bathroom, which is especially important when caring for disabled people. There is a lot of space in front of the entrance door where the wheelchair can stay safely. And it takes just a few minutes to get to the rehabilitation centre. Alsu had an appointment in the physical therapy room on the day journalists visited the new residents.

“Diagnostics is made first. We need to know what she can do and then try to keep learning. Now we have worked with fine motor skills. It is necessary for Alsu to be able to hold, for instance, a spoon and eat herself. A stick is used instead of a spoon in class. Such a necessary skill helps the girl to learn how to eat herself, take the spoon to her mouth. If the person moves, it means she lives,” physical therapist of the Laishevo Rehabilitation Centre Dmitry Belousov explained the character and goal of the classes.

The main present the Khabriyevs family received is the confidence that now Alsu will receive both medical advice and all necessary rehabilitation procedures on time and in full volume. And this inspires hope that the girl’s state will not get worse but will probably also improve step by step, with time. As the saying goes, “Only joyful events attract other joyful events.” And this is true. Alsu started to smile more often. And the family has more joyful reasons: a new dress was chosen for the girl these days — her oldest sister’s wedding will be on 19 June. Later, guests from Yaroslavl the family got acquainted with in a rehabilitation centre in Saint Petersburg promised to come.

By Arseny Favstritsky