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A Big Moscow Clergy Family

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    ... is ... couch ... Veshnyaki ... the ... families ... has ... have ... control. ... will ... brings ... the ... is ... money, ... assistance ... 6, ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 10, 2002
      > Moscow Times
      > Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2002
      > 16 Children Keep This Mother Busy
      > By Yevgenia Borisova
      > Staff Writer
      > To say Yelena Malevich has her hands full would be an understatement. The
      > 45-year-old wife of an Orthodox priest has 16 children and is already the
      > grandmother of five.
      > "I worry so much for every single one of them. Happiness is when everyone
      > at home and nothing bad happens to them," Malevich said, sitting on a
      > in her living room, her hands folded across her bulging belly. Children
      > raced in and out of the room, each trying to ask her something.
      > Malevich, whose husband, Father Boris Malevich, is a priest at the
      > Orthodox Church, is the mother of one of only three families with 16
      > children in Moscow -- and there are no bigger families, according to city
      > statistics.
      > Having a large family was revered in Soviet times, and mothers with more
      > than four children are still awarded medals and financial support from
      > government.
      > But generous state subsidies are long gone, and the number of big
      > is rapidly dropping, said Lyubov Ishchuk of City Hall's family and youth
      > committee. The number of families in Moscow with three or more children
      > fallen from 42,000 a decade ago to 19,000, she said. Only 90 families
      > more than 10 children.
      > As devout Orthodox Christians, the Malevichs don't practice birth
      > "God knows how many children each woman must have," Yelena Malevich said,
      > heaving a sigh. "It is never too many or too few. Some people, like us,
      > get more. Some will not have any. There will be no overpopulation on the
      > Earth."
      > But there will always seem to be a lack of money. Malevich's husband
      > home 2,000 rubles ($62) per month from his job at the church. The federal
      > government provides 70 rubles per month for each child under 16, while
      > city of Moscow provides 120 rubles per child. To earn extra money, Boris
      > Malevich blesses apartments and offices and conducts funeral services. He
      > rarely at home.
      > Yelena Malevich's father, a church painter, sometimes helps out with
      > and her other relatives give preserves. Sometimes the family gets
      > from the church.
      > "We have about 20 rubles per person per day for food," Malevich said.
      > She and her husband live with 12 children -- Slava, 2, Georgy 5, Galya,
      > Dima, 9, Ilya, 12, Khristina, 13, Nadya, 14, Kirill, 16, Olga, 19,
      > 21, Nastya, 22 -- in three connected apartments in a multilevel building
      > Novokosinskaya Ulitsa, a half-hour drive east of the remote Vykhino metro
      > station.
      > Their two oldest sons, Alexei, 26, and Filipp, 25, who are also priests,
      > share a two-room apartment with their wives and five sons in the same
      > building.
      > The four apartments cover 170 square meters.
      > Olga, Marusya and Nastya also work, while sons Gleb, 17, and Andrei, 18,
      > at a seminary studying to be priests.
      > Food is a constant struggle. Several large aluminum saucepans in the
      > kitchen get filled and emptied at least three times a day as Yelena whips
      > batches of rice, millet, buckwheat porridge, pasta, borshch and soup.
      > a week the family eats meat -- usually cutlets, sausages or pelmeni.
      > Potatoes are a rarity because they are too expensive, Yelena Malevich
      > Cooking takes most of her time, and the fridge usually hovers on empty.
      > "Mom, what can I have with my tea?" Khristina said, pulling her mother's
      > sleeve in one of several attempts to get her attention during this
      > interview.
      > Malevich was strict. "Just you be quiet," she said. "I am busy now."
      > But in a few minutes, she moved to the kitchen and produced a dry waffle
      > cake from somewhere.
      > Her older daughters came home from work and were handed plates of
      > rice, meatballs and pickled cabbage. The crowd of smaller children heard
      > clanging of the dishes and immediately rushed to the kitchen. The tiny
      > climbed onto their older sisters' shoulders to grab food off their plates
      > and snatch pieces of the waffle cake.
      > Malevich laughed. "When I was small, I was the only child, and we kept
      > things in a bowl. Here, anything tasty disappears in a moment."
      > Between their nibbling, the smaller children played excitedly, sometimes
      > looking like a huge shouting knot of bodies rolling from one room to
      > another.
      > "Of course, I sometimes get tired of this noise," said Marusya, who works
      > a nurse in a city hospital. "But it is good, too. You always have someone
      > talk to, to go out with and to get help from."
      > A big family is a sort of a world in itself, said Yevgenia Chernyshova, a
      > mother of 10 children and head of the multi-children families section in
      > City Hall's family and youth committee.
      > "A big family is a world where you can escape from all of life's
      > she said. "It offers compensation mechanisms within itself. For example,
      > every person who comes home in a bad mood, there will be someone who is
      > happy."
      > In the Malevich household, the males do all the handiwork, including
      > anything that breaks, painting walls and putting up wallpaper. The family
      > has two televisions, a microwave and a washing machine.
      > Every Saturday, the family cleans the apartment, and everyone has his or
      > own job to do. Every child except the tiny ones does his or her own
      > Everyone goes to church at least once a week.
      > Malevich said her husband sometimes spanks the children "when they do
      > something wrong." But she could not recall the last time a child had been
      > spanked and the reason for the punishment.
      > One of her biggest worries are her eldest daughters. Olga, Marusya and
      > Nastya have already reached marriage age, but there are no eligible
      > The girls fit into the standards of a priest's family, but they are
      > exceptional by modern Moscow standards: They do not smoke, drink or use
      > makeup. Sex outside of marriage is unthinkable.
      > The eldest brothers met their wives in church. One was a priest's
      > while the other cleaned the church building.
      > "I would like to be married to a priest," Marusya said. "They marry only
      > once. They are loyal to you and reliable. But where can I meet one?"
      > "To become a priest, a seminary graduate must be either married or a
      > Malevich said. "But those who study like my sons are effectively locked
      > the seminary. There is little chance even to get acquainted with them."
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