Across the world, there are more than one billion people living with a disability. In some countries, disabled children are treated like “freaks,” denied the opportunity to go to school, perish in filthy institutions and some are severely abused.
Rustam is one of these children, who because of several diseases that altered his appearance, was abandoned by his biological parents as a baby.
And just as he was about to move into a “house of the disabled,” the little guy had a huge miracle…
Up until 2006, there was no system providing protection to people living with disabilities. In that year, an international treaty was implemented by the United Nations, finally protecting disabled adults and children, who in some countries were shockingly abandoned, beaten or caged.
Rustam was one of the children, who was discarded immediately after he was born, left at the hospital because of his appearance.
The adorable little child was born with “several malformations,” that modified his face and left him without a leg and a partial hip. For the first two years of his life, he was fed through a tube, and over the next two years, doctors “literally piece-by-piece by collected his face.”
@nika_evil_ Таким мы увидели Рустама когда приехали знакомиться с ним в Детский дом – 3 года назад.#приемныйребенок #приемнаясемья #семьясмыслжизни ♬ оригинальный звук – user3123355417622
But no one wanted to adopt or foster the Russian-born Rustam, who still needed several procedures to live a healthy life.
Then in 2017, the kind-hearted Nika Zlobin, who wanted to foster or adopt a child, came across four-year-old Rustam’s photo.
“There was a hole instead of a face,” the Moscow woman recalls of seeing his picture.
After expressing interest in the youngster, her and her husband Yuri received a list of what Rustam needed: speech therapy, plastic surgery and a prosthetic leg.
The woman said (translated to English), “I read it, I figured – well, everything is solvable. Why don’t we do that too?”
Their first meeting with the child went better than expected. “When Yuri and I arrived, they brought Rustam to us in the playroom.” Nika continues, “You know, I was ready for a lot, I thought he was in diapers, but when I met him, he seemed like a child prodigy. I was shocked, honestly.”
Nika and Yuri’s timing was perfect as Rustam, who used gestures to speak, was being prepared for a transfer to a “house of the disabled.”
“And in a disabled home, he wouldn’t have survived,” Nika said, adding that trip would have been a one-way ticket.
The couple quickly filled in the documents, placed Rustam in the car and drove him to his new home in Moscow.
“I know that many adoptive parents worry about whether they can love someone else’s child as their own. I didn’t think about it,” Nika said, adding she is equally stern with him as she is with her biological daughter, Iya.
The parents also do not treat him any differently and expect the boy to work with them on his therapies.
In fact, despite Rustam protesting, she taught him how to walk, demanding her son move around the apartment on his crutches.
“Rus protested, cried, demanded to be carried…showed [his] character. But then he got down to business and very quickly walked at speed,” she said.
‘Such a freak’
Since Rustam joined the family, Nika is raising awareness, championing the rights and dignities of disabled people.
But people still take the opportunity to attack the young boy, some calling him a freak.
“One woman wrote to me: ‘let’s call things by their words, freak…’” Nika recalls of one message. “Or they often write: ‘How did you decide to do this, we would not be able to live next to such a freak.’”
To those comments, Nika lovingly responds, “I don’t know, maybe someone wants to always look at the beautiful. It’s more important to me that Rustam has the whole world inside.”
Though she’s learned to be thick-skinned, Nika admits the attacks can be hurtful. “[People] like to put up labels…If you don’t look like everyone else. A lot of evil, a lot.”
Despite cruel comments, Rustam’s mom and dad are supporting their son, making sure he knows “that everything was fine with him: two eyes, a nose, a mouth. Soon there will be two legs. He sees, hears, speaks.”
And the boy, who’s now about 10, is relying on his “brightness and courage,” styling his hair – perky ponytails and dreadlocks – and wearing bold clothing to express his colorful personality.
@nika_evil_ #инвалидностьнеприговор #житьздорова #яхожу ♬ Stay at Home (Tt Special) – PATSYKI Z FRANEKA
“Rus thinks very broadly and open-mindedly, sometimes making paradoxical conclusions. So, it was easy for me to persuade him to experiment boldly,” Nika says of her son. “Rustam doesn’t ask questions about his appearance at all. He repeats with pleasure that his whole family is beautiful, and he is so handsome in general.”
Unfortunately, Nika’s Instagram has since been deleted so we can no longer follow Rustam’s wild dance moves and awesome hair.
She previously said, “If my account should suddenly be blocked then I’ll probably feel better because I won’t see dozens of haters commenting about my son.”
It’s so sad that people have to say such cruel things to a beautiful couple who gave the world to a helpless little boy.
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