Shaygo Aleksandr Safiyanovich (Sasha) is a young man of 28 years old. He was born in the month of Yakutia to nomadic reindeer herders. The first thirteen years of his life he lived in a chum (tent) with his mother, aunt, uncle, and cousins. They lived far from civilization and moved across the tundra alongside herds of deer. Sasha’s family only visited the nearby towns occasionally to purchase food.
Sasha has never had a birth certificate. He did not attend school. He never went to the hospital, library or other public institutions. Sasha has never seen his father and used his mother’s last name (Safiya) instead of his father’s. His mother drank a lot. She beat him for his faults, disobedience, and curiosity. Sasha hardly had any friends in childhood. When he was thirteen, his mother passed away from liver cancer.
Sasha’s relatives did not want him to inherit his mother’s deers. One month after her death they left Aleksandr in the town of Mirniy, where they purchased food for the tribe. He lived for about a week in the house of a purchasing agent. It was a time of discovery for Sasha. There, he saw “Dendy” and “Sega” video games, as well as a Pentium II PC for the first time. However, after a week of playing fun computer games with local kids, the purchasing agent, while drinking some vodka, explained to Sasha that his relatives will never come back, and that he would have to become independent.
Between the ages of fifteen to eighteen, Alexandr experienced greater freedom when started to travel through Russia. At that time, Sasha was absolutely illiterate. He was learning writing and reading skills mostly from his employers in his spare time.
He was travelling without any goal. He was driven by hunger and need of money. Sasha earned money by doing unskilled work in places where he could be hired without papers. He sewed clothes for underground garment factories, did domestic work and smuggled mobile phones.
In 2012 Sasha was detained in Ukraine for violation of immigration regulations. He spent one year in immigration detention. After his release he came to live in Crimea…
Design by Oleksandr Bychenko
Text by Olga Morkova, Aleksandr Shaygo
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