'Dr. Liza' heads a free clinic that helps Moscow's homeless and hopeless
From her clinic, Elizaveta Glinka and her volunteers give food, clothing, medicine, and other help to Moscow's homeless.
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All sorts of people come to the basement offices on Pyatnitskaya Street. Among them: poor retirees, homeless alcoholics who want to fight their addiction, and lonely people in trouble.Skip to next paragraph
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Alexandra Leonidovna is raising her four children alone. She has no money to buy food, so she decided to turn to Glinka's "Just Help" fund.
"It's a wonderful charity fund," Ms. Leonidovna says. "It's good that you get the things you really need. I don't know what I would do if the fund didn't exist."
The fund also provides help to the homeless.
Every Wednesday two cars set off from Pyatnitskaya Street to Paveletsky railway station to provide food and medical care to people who have no place to live; usually about 200 homeless people show up to take advantage of the free services.
Some find out about Glinka's fund from their friends; others read about the Wednesday lunches in a booklet given out at a nearby church.
"We hand out soap, toothpaste, medications, provide first aid. We help them ... start a normal life," Glinka says.
On the other days of the week, the homeless must try to find help elsewhere.
A few years ago the government created a unified record-keeping system in which all the homeless people who have come to the government for help are registered. Currently, the number of homeless in the system is 12,715. The number grows every year and has doubled since 2009.
But it's difficult to estimate the actual number of homeless here. Unofficial estimates vary from 10,000 to 100,000. In Moscow eight government agencies share responsibility for them, all part of the department of social security for citizens living in the Russian capital.
Since 2004, Moscow has decided to allocate some money from the city budget to pay transportation expenses for those homeless people who want to go back to their homes outside the city. However, this hasn't solved the homelessness problem.
Glinka's fund is one of several private organizations that try to make the lives of homeless people here a little bit easier.
Meanwhile, she confesses she doesn't have any big plans for the future. She wants to continue what she is doing. "I decided not to make plans," she says. "The money I have is not getting more, and the number of patients is constantly increasing."
She hopes to find enough funds to carry on with her activities. She loves her job and wouldn't change it for another.
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