Dima Kerdivara was just three years old when his family relocated from Russia to Troutdale, Oregon. A year before, his family noticed Kerdivara might have autism. His mother and father, Alla and Dmitry Kerdivara, told Fox 12, “We weren’t able to touch him, we weren’t able to hug him. He would just scream and throw fits.”
After they immigrated to the United States, it was hard for the young boy to make connections – with the language barrier and his diagnosis proving it challenging. It took years for Kerdivara to finally connect with somebody other than his family. The solution came in an unusual way, after Kerdivara became attached to the local garbage truck driver, Rene Vesi.
On Wednesdays, Kerdivara waits by his window for Vesi to arrive at his front door in his garbage truck. Kerdivara’s father told Fox 12 that before he worked up the courage to walk up to Vesi, the boy would wave from his window because he was too shy to say hello in person. The boy likes structure and routine, so his parents say trash day, waiting for Vesi, became part of his routine
Vesi also speaks Russian, as he immigrated from Estonia to Oregon. Kerdivara’s parents were able to communicate the boy’s diagnosis with him. He told Fox 12, “When we have so much anger in the world, when you’re able to put a smile on somebody’s face and make them happy, just do it.”