RUSSIA

Friends and Strangers Rally to Bring Home Exiled Teen From Siberia

RUSSIA
Nov 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET

Sofia Roberts’ case is catching on. Two years have passed since her mother and stepfather exiled her to Siberia at age 15, and now friends and strangers around the country are mobilizing to help bring her home. What initially began as empathetic outreach in the comments section of news articles or posts on Sofia’s Facebook wall is slowly evolving into a more organized effort through petitions, crowdsourcing, a Facebook group called “The Committee To Assist Sofia Roberts” and even an emerging mothers’ group.

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Though most of the campaigns are still trying to gain some momentum, her once-hopeless-looking situation is improving. Sofia is using her profile to draw attention to her plight and thank people for their help. She has also established a Twitter feed and Ask.fm page to answer questions about her situation.

In 2011, Sofia was sent to Siberia to live with her biological father as punishment for her teenage antics at home in Virginia. Depressed and emotionally fatigued, she eventually left his home after his drinking habits and subsequent aggression became too much for her to handle. Now 17, she is on her own, and her mother and stepfather refuse to bring her home. In the meantime, she has both lived and worked in a local hostel in Berdsk, though she recently lost her job after an unflattering flurry of Russian press coverage designed to portray her as a spoiled, American brat. 

The Facebook group “The Committee to Assist Sofia Roberts” is working to correct the false claims and released the following video:

Other campaigns include a Rally.org crowdfund, “Let’s Rally for Sofia Roberts to Make a Difference,” and a Thunderclap page, “Bring Sofia Roberts Home.” The mothers’ group is currently in its recruiting phase, assembling kind-hearted parents who will work to serve Sofia’s immediate needs (shelter, food, education, etc.) since her own guardians have neglected to do so.

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Those who are especially enraged at Sofia’s neglectful parents have begun a smear campaign against her stepfather and his law practice by writing disparaging reviews online.

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Some have even resorted to calling Sofia’s parents at their home in Chantilly, Virginia, but Sofia believes this is taking things a step too far. “I love my mom and my sister very much, and don’t know what I would do if something bad happened to them,” she says in a recent post. “I don’t know who is passing along my parents’ personal information (phone number and address), but please stop. With that being said, I have a favor to ask from all of you. Please don’t terrorize my parents. They don’t deserve harassing and threatening phone calls. It’s not helping me in anyway. All it’s doing is adding more hate into this world, which is unneeded. I love my parents and don’t want to fight fire with fire.”

One pro-Sofia activist even managed to find her mother and stepfather’s wedding album online. Sofia can be seen in happier times wearing a purple dress.