Halina: My family with two kids is forced to survive on $15 per month

While Halina and her husband refund money to the state for taking care of their children in an orphanage, teenagers eat macaroni and seeds and had no Christmas presents.

The family in the village of Volma, Smalyavichy district, is forced to live on these peanuts. One year and a half ago, the government removed custodial rights from Halina Bulva and placed her two children in a local orphanage. Six months later, when the woman underwent medical treatment, found a job and cleaned up the mess in the house, the children returned home. Today, Halina and her husband make monthly payments to the state to refund the money for taking care of their children.

Halina Bulva goes shopping very seldom. Even in the country side, Br30,000 ($15) is peanuts. Mainly, she buys bread, macaroni and milk. The family is ordered to forget about meat or sausages for some time. The parents will have to pay 70 percent of their salaries to the state until March. The mother has Br25-30,000 and the father has Br40-50,000 left over after the payments.

Euroradio: How do you make it survive on this money?
Halina Bulva: What can I say? The elder son helps a bit, because he has a job. This is the way we live on. I guess, nobody has been starved to death.
Euroradio: What can you afford to buy in a grocery?
Halina Bulva: Macaroni, rice, porridge, eggs.
Euroradio: What did your children have for dinner yesterday?
Галіна Булва: Yesterday I cooked borsch (red-beat soup), eggs and a salad. The borsch was without meat but with sour cream.

The parents could not afford to buy toys or games for their 11-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son.

Syarhey Vyarheychyk, a police officer in charge of custodial rights, says the mother thought it hard about drinking after her children were taken away. She would often visit them at the orphanage often, renovated the house and quit drinking.

Syarhey Vyarheychyk: She goes to work almost everyday, because she wants to refund to the state as soon as possible.
Euroradio: Do you think she has recovered?
Syarhey Vyarheychyk: Yes. It has become cleaner at their house compared to what used to be before. There is a place where children can rest and do their homework. I have talked to the daughter and asked how she was. The girl smiled and said she was doing well. Of course, it is better to live with the mother than at an orphanage.
Euroradio: Is it possible so that at least 30-40 percent not 70 perfent are deducted from her salary?
Syarhey Vyarheychyk: We tried to resolve the issue this way, but the administration would not agree. We understand everything. In some cases, we ask so that those families be exempt from making payments, because they have no money to survive. Some requests are met with understanding, while the others are not.

The European Radio for Belarus has telephoned a court officer at the Smalyavichy district to comment on the situation, but the legal officer said that the 70 percent rate was set by the president and therefore could not be reduced. The only way out is to forgive the debt of Bulva's family. If the debt becomes very small, the state can forget about it eventually.