The Russian city of Yaroslavl has been associated with a number of terrible incidents. The city is remembered for a tragic plane crash which killed the entire coaching staff and players of the Lokomotiv Yaroslav professional ice hockey team.
However, the inhabitants of Yaroslavl will never forget the terrible event that took place there just over 10 years ago.
A little over 10 years ago, a neighbor heard a cry from a house in the Yaroslavl region, just outside Moscow. They ignored it to begin with but after a week decided to investigate the sounds coming from the derelict house.
To their horror they discovered a one-year-old baby girl huddled, scared and alone in the corner of one of the rooms. The child had been left there for a week by her mother without any food or water, and if the residents had not come to find her when they did, she would have most certainly died.
The little girl, Liza Verbitskaya, was immediately taken to hospital where doctors discovered that she had a fractured hip and was malnourished and dehydrated.
Liza had developmental problems stemming from her early trauma during her infancy. She could not chew food, she was extremely afraid of loud noises, and she was very slow to learn how to walk.
The idea was that Liza was to be taken to a orphanage and then put up for adoption after her stay at the hospital. But while she was still in the hospital, a woman called Inna Nika found her and immediately bonded with the needy child.
Inna was in the hospital day and night to watch over her sick son. One day she heard a scream from the hospital room next door and looked in to find Liza. From that day, Inna began to visit Liza every day. The woman always brought new clothes, food and toys to her.
One day when Inna was going to visit Liza, the little girl was gone. Inna soon found out that the little girl was thought to be strong enough to leave the hospital so had been taken to a nearby orphanage. Inna already had two sons and she never thought about adoption. But that day when Liza left the hospital, Inna realized that she could not live without her.
“I asked for the address to the place where they had taken her and went there as soon as I could. I do not even remember how I got there,” says Inna.
The mother soon began the adoption process and after much paperwork, Liza was allowed to live with Inna and her family, where she was surrounded by love and happiness.
Liza was not developing as quickly as other children; it was clear she had suffered as a baby but Inna was more determined than ever, she would make sure to give her little girl all the support and all the love, even through the dark times.
Inna decided to enter Liza in dance classes, hoping that the music could help and inspire her to develop both physically and mentally. And it worked. Thanks to the dance, combined with her adoptive mother’s love and care, Liza blossomed to be a healthy, happy child.
When she started school, no one could believe that it was the same girl who had been abandoned by her parents and left to die in a filthy abandoned home.
There was another issue, too. Liza was dark-skinned, a member of the Romani population of Russia. In the traditionally light-skinned region of Yaroslavl, this meant that she was bound to face severe prejudice for her appearance. Children teased her at school and she attracted a lot of attention when she went out.
But Liza did not care about the stares or hurtful words. “She is not ashamed of who she is. When she was little, I told her, ‘People will always stare at you – be prepared for it,’” says Inna.
Inna always told her daughter that she should never listen to cruel words. Today, Liza is a successful youngster winning talent and beauty contests and even works as a model.
Such a wonderful contrast to how her life began!
Because her model career and incredible journey made her into something of a celebrity in Russia, many saw her in the media, including her biological mother who wanted to see her again. But all requests were denied.
It’s a wonderful thing what love and care can do to transform a life that started with such horror. We hope Liza continues to live a happy and successful life.
Let’s share this amazing and inspiring story to spread some positivity.