Mihai – 61 years old (September 16, 1958)
I was born in the Soviet Union, right here in this village, as one of four children. All of us were forced to go work in the communist collective farms, from a very young age.
Before I was of age, my right arm and right leg became paralyzed, and the doctors never understood why.
No girl here would marry a half-cripple, so I never had children or knew a woman.
I was unable to work most of my life, and, therefore, will receive little to no pension. And, now, because retirement age is 65, I receive no governmental help whatsoever.
My last living sister assisted until she died in 2017. Now, I’m completely alone in an empty house with nobody, and nothing.
Somehow, feeling and strength returned to my arm and leg in the last couple years. Now, I walk through the village looking for odd jobs, just to earn a few cents to feed myself.
No food, no firewood. Winters are the scariest for me, though I try to be brave.
I have energy, and wish there was something productive I could do to earn a living… but I’m older now, and there are no job opportunities for a man like me. I’ve never been able to afford a car or a phone, and I’ve never used a computer. Truly, I would learn anything or do anything, just for the dignity of being able to work and provide for myself like other men.