….I did not take the test for quite a while. And then I did. And at that moment I was left alone, with myself only. Unfortunately, I did not have acquaintances and friends who somehow were associated with HIV infection or HIV prevention … When you even learn about the diagnosis and know little about HIV infection, when you have some preconceptions in your head … At that moment in my life the events in general had a twist: after finding out about the diagnosis, I got into an accident. 13 days after. And you do not know what’s going to happen to you, and you do not really want to live at such a moment … You’re shaking quite a bit, as if someone has shaken you by your shoulders, I do not know, by Higher Powers, the Universe, who believes in whom or in what, and you understand that in fact, you will have to accept this, in fact, your life continues, maybe it has even reached a new level. It seems to me, for me it was just … it changed me very much, brought me to a new level of awareness, changed my inner philosophy. The attitude to life has changed, the values have changed, the understanding of today has been changed, of what today is … Gratitude … simply, elementary for waking up, for having planned something and the ability to fulfill the plans, to meet people, communicate with them, exchange information, energy and to do something useful, just today, to help someone and help yourself through this help. I therefore see this for myself: while doing something for others, you obtain experience, training, – thus helping yourself. Well, that is, you are not that you live several lives, but you are training … how to say it?.. How to say what you are training? I, probably, train my … well, to say “my soul” is very much like … But you just, I think, just raise your level of awareness in life and understanding that nothing lasts forever, but you need to treat life with a little more gratitude, appreciate what you have now, because this may be simply gone. That’s it.
And when I got into that accident and was lying on the hospital bed, even for a while in the intensive care unit… of course, then you are already rewinding the time and realising that nothing fundamentally terrible has happened in your life, that your life … in any case, it goes on… At that time, I did not understand much. And I did not know how people with HIV live, what they do. I heard that there seems to be some kind of a treatment, but I did not know how it worked and how effective it was, and what the life expectancy of a person with HIV infection was. At that moment, I did not know anything at all. Well, at least I got reassured that since I was alive, there must be some Divine Providence or some Universal, idea or History for me, yes, myself. Well, here are some of the signals I caught: yeah, I need just to do something, then everything is OK…
… I was invited to the project … in which year … in 2014 or 2015?.. Well, a few years ago, when there were no premises yet… My first group … Three people came, I was the fourth. Here. We just sat down and talked, and talked … I remember, yes, they were very … well, as if … not that they felt unpleasant, but they were disappointed, that so few people had come. And I was somehow … I had a curator, I wrote to him about everything. He says: “Listen, you’re a fine fellow. It’s a success! Four people at the first meeting – it’s a success!”. And I was preparing for this meeting for a month! A whole month I was writing about it, advertising it, telling everyone to come, September 15 we shall have a meeting. And only three people came, I’m the fourth … And my curator says it’s a success. And he somehow inspired, invigorated me. He is a very good person. Our paths, unfortunately, have parted, but I am very grateful to him for supporting me, for “you are a fine fellow, you have done everything right”.
Those people never came to the second meeting, a week later, but different people came. Then no one came. Then I canceled one meeting, went to my country house. I am driving up to my dacha, and they start calling me: “Oh, we want to come.” I say: “Guys, sorry, I already canceled, because there were no calls.” Then somehow it went … it snowballed, someone started talking, recommending, “word of mouth”. I posted ads, and I already had more people calling. They began discussion on social networks: “Do you know about this new format of communication?” Someone started badmouthing there… There were forum discussions, like, for example, in LiveJournal, and here under the message text there was this stair of these discussion messages. I was very worried when I was criticised. They said: “There’s nothing to do there, do not go, they will recognize you there, they will be pointing at you in the street.” In general, they were writing all kinds of terrible nonsense. I turned to the curator: “What should I do? This is the situation, how can I react to this? “. He said: “Do not worry. Even subvertisement is advertisement.” I’ve calmed down. And every time more and more people walked in. We, as I remember, celebrated the New Year, then some other holidays. And already somewhere in a number of months … we gathered on Kurskaya, there were some premises, this big hall. I remember the whole hall was packed to full capacity, we brought more chairs, there were sofas, everything was crammed, people were sitting in twos. There was a lot of people. I was just shocked. That is, gradually people stopped being afraid and began to trust.
… Right now I’m advertising – but no one calls. People keep coming on the recommendation of those who were here before. Let’s say that in 2009-2011 you would place an ad – and the calls would flow, people would come because of advertising. Since 2012, somehow all these calls stopped, we get them very rarely, 1-2 times a year. But the flow is constantly increasing. And we ask: “How did you learn about us?”. “Friends told me,” “Friend hinted,” “Comrade brought me here.” That is, just like this.
Probably, we do it not for nothing. If people have a need (and it is already clear that they do), then it must be realised. Here, for example, if I would be working on some regular job, nobody would have known about me and about what I do. And now I come to the club, and a lot of people approach me … This New Year my friends dragged me into one club and I spent a whole hour greeting the guys whom we somehow helped or supported …