The Russian Old Believers from America return to Far Eastern hectares
“Yes, I may, although it's a sin. Grandpa grumbles about the Internet. But how should I avoid using it? All our relatives are abroad, so we write to each other," Anfisa Fefilova explains.
“To chat with the relatives, yes,” confirms the woman.
A family of 14 people has just moved to Amur region from Uruguay. As soon as the Old Believers learned about allocation of land plots in the Far East, they realized it is time to return to their homeland.
The new village of the Old Believers has no name yet. It consists of only three houses. Another one big family has settled here and is now actively working on its land plot. They are ready to receive other relatives from remote South America.
Sombrero and a couple of photos in memory of the distant country; they won't miss the Uruguayan palm trees and hot climate.
“Winter is very good for us. Clean air, no mosquito, no black flies," the head of the Old Believers community Fedor Kilin explains.
“If only you knew how we felt in a plane to Russia; how we wanted to get there," Tatyana Kilina emphasizes. "The Chinese, the Spaniards. They are not our twin souls, and we can do nothing with it!”
Tatyana Kilina can speak a little Chinese and feels fluent with Spanish and Portuguese. Religious persecution forced the Old Believers to wander around the countries and continents for almost the entire XX century. The woman lived more than forty years in Uruguay. In a foreign country, they earned their living by selling homemade cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, and bread.
“The Russians take half more. You have to do your best to sell something to the Spaniards; you have to explain them what can be cooked from these ingredients and how. They don't know anything. Only after the explanation, they start to buy them. Otherwise they won't take it," Tatyana says.
In Amur region, the Old Believers are going to do the same - to cultivate the land; to grow potatoes, wheat, oats; to breed cattle and poultry. All skills come down from farther to son. But the children do not go to school. They master literacy by reading the church books written in Old Slavonic instead.
“We were taught to read and write at home; we can solve problems, we can count. The other cannot. I started milking a cow when I was 7 years old. I've been milking the cows since the age of seven. Now I'm already 44," Olga Reutova says.
Olga son Levkiy has turned 18 years old — it's time to look for a bride for him. On remote continent, they married with the Brazilians who accepted the way of life of the Old Believers.
“I can marry a woman if she comes over to my faith. There are our people, the Christians, here," Levkiy Reutov explains.
While the women work in a cowshed or sit with stitches and embroidery, the men work in the field. They state that the Uruguayan lands are not worse by fertility, but are too expensive.
“It's too hard to live there. They pay the rent of 200-300 dollars per hectare, while here this rate makes 2-3 dollars. That's a good difference, isn't it? We had to work for the rent there. I want to work but there is no benefit," the head of the Old Believers community Fedor Kilin bewails.
Anyway, in Russia, the Old Believers face some challenges too: they have problems with paperwork and lack for funds for the first time. Kilin's family has already tried to settle in Primorye, but it came to nothing.
“We need the citizenship, the land plots, and some equipment. At least some old one, just to get started. Maybe on leasing basis," Kilin explains.
Now they are ready to help them at the highest level — the state creates the adaptation service for the Old Believers. Step by step, this service will explain how to get a Russian passport or, for example, how to rent a tractor. Or how to address to the veterinarian. Nastya's cow does not milk the second day and refuses to eat.
"Is it your only provider?"
“It's the only milker. If it dies, we'll have problems," Nastya says.
She gives manganese solution to the cow. The cow does not want it, so it is not poisoned, the woman explains.
If the Amur region accepts the newcomers and they manage to build a strong farm, the other Old Believers will follow the path paved by the Kilin family.
Frames from the documentary film by Alexander Rogatkin “The American fairy tale of grandma Stepanida”. So far, the relatives can only be seen on the screen. The secular laptop is also banned in a home of the Old Believers. But the bans are eased when it comes to making sure your loved ones are doing well under the Uruguayan sun.
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