WASTELAND: Narva’s Youth Against All Odds

Allow me to set the scene. It is a cool, sunny Wednesday evening. Myself and several other students are occupying ourselves with soccer and football on the dormitory lawn when a man stumbles towards us. He is not drunk, but something beyond drunk. He walks a zigzagged path, in which each step is as uncertain as the last. He looks as though he hasn’t showered or changed his clothing in days. Perhaps he is thirty or forty years old; one cannot attribute a number to a man who so clearly abuses his body on a regular basis. But as this shameful spectacle trudges toward me I think not of his hygiene or habits; I think only of his son who follows in tow. How can this drunkard possibly be the role model that this child needs? How can he possibly help him with his homework, or play sports with him or teach him how to be a man?

Although I highlight this man, he is only one of many. Walking through the streets of Narva one cannot avoid the sight of a few comparable characters, many of which likely have children at home. Impressionable children who look to those around them for cues on right and wrong, on how to conduct themselves and which path to take in life, but who everyday see the same sad example. Many children are indeed fortunate enough have a responsible guardian at home, but they are nonetheless within reach of this wasteland’s grip. As they play at the park or ride their bikes through the streets they see alcoholics and drug addicts at every turn. This is not speculation, but fact. Every morning on my route to class I see the same group of degenerates in the park. They stay there all day drinking and doping until they lose consciousness., and then they wake up and repeat.

I don’t know the origins of this epidemic, but drug addiction and alcoholism are in full force here in Narva. It’s crippling this city, cutting the youth off at their knees. Just the other day I met a few kids from down the street. Kids, mind you, who are not intrinsically different than any other. The overwhelming difference, however, is their circumstances. They only know this desolation that I speak of. The older kids that they look up to are more than likely headed down the wrong path, and these naïve kids are bound, or more accurately doomed, to follow. What is to be done? I surely don’t know, but I hope that something is in the works. I pray that the sweet innocent children of today do not become the sad, stumbling degenerates of tomorrow. I pray thatthey make it out of this wasteland…

-Jacob Foehr

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