Nine ingredients for independent life
Our groups for teenagers leaving orphanages and parents who have grown up in orphanages were joined by guests from a children’s home in Archangel province to talk about how they see their future. Together they came up with nine ingredients for an independent life. We are delighted to share the recipe with you.
- respect yourself and others
- being able to value yourself
- being able to win trust
- being able to work
- freedom and
- ability to be yourself
Vera moves into her own flat
One of the orphanage-leavers we’ve been supporting, we’ll call her Vera, will be spending 2014 in her own flat. Six years after she was given the flat by the authorities she now feels confident enough to face independent life thanks to the support given by the Sunflower Centre with your help.
It takes some imagination to realise just what a big step this is. Young people who have grown up in orphanages are used to sleeping in dormitories, to having everything done for them, to never having to take any decisions. The system allows them to stay in education (with hostel accommodation provided) until they are 23, but this just delays the problems. To avoid the terror of living alone, most orphanage-leavers will take two or even three college courses so they can stay on as long as possible. When they do leave, they often prefer to live together in one overcrowded flat and rent out the room or the flat they’ve been given.
So we congratulate Vera on her brave decision to live independently. We are delighted that she has friendly, helpful neighbours and the ongoing support of the Sunflower Centre. She is one of five members of the Sunflower group who have taken this momentous step and we wish them all well.
Brothers find new adoptive family
We have been helping the Orthodox parish in Kondopoga, NW Russia, to feed deprived children during the summer holidays for many years now. Some of the parents simply cannot afford to feed their children, others have alcohol or drug problems or are mentally ill. As well as a hot meal, the parish lay on games and each child is given the stationery they need for the school year ahead at the end of the holidays.
This year, two of the boys who the parish feed were taken into a children’s home. Fortunately, they didn’t stay there for long. A family from the parish have adopted the brothers, aged 6 and 10 years old. Since then the boys have really thrived and have quite a sparkle in their eyes. The older brother has joined a skiing team and the younger brother enjoys swimming.
SGF newsletter now out
You can now download our latest newsletter to find out more about how teenagers from poor and troubled families are benefiting from our summer camps and our plans to create a training centre for disabled teenagers in St Petersburg.
Join our mailing list if you would like to receive our newsletter twice a year by post.
Tamara Dragadze recovering from life-threatening accident
Tamara Dragadze, who for many years has been an invaluable member of St Gregory’s board of directors, has just recovered from a freak accident that occurred while she was swimming in the south of France. She spent several days in an induced coma and intensive care, from which, against all the odds, she has now emerged. We all rejoice that she is still with us!
Rather than send her the biggest bunch of flowers imaginable, or quantities of champagne and caviar to speed her recovery, Tamara’s fellow-directors are organising a collection for the one Georgian organisation which we support - Mkurnali, the Tbilisi charity for street children. This will speed her recovery even more effectively, and the results will be long-lasting!
If you would like to contribute, please click on the donate button below for details of how to donate by cheque or online. Please do make sure you tell us that your donation is for the “Tamara appeal” either by marking your cheque, or, If you choose to donate online, by e-mailing Sarah Gale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Successful summer camp for adults with learning disabilities
From 22nd to 29th July Faith and Light held its traditional summer camp in the countryside. Faith and Light is a group of families with adult children who have learning disabilities. They meet regularly through the year to socialise and support each other. The summer camp is the highlight of the year.
This year a lot of people came on the camp: 7 families, 7 friends and 2 young people who don’t have parents. Despite bad weather for the first half of the camp, everyone enjoyed themselves. The sports, performances, walks, swimming in the lake, and mushroom picking expeditions all provided excellent opportunities to strengthen our friendships, to socialise better and to become more motivated to be active.
We also worked together: peeling vegetables, cooking, washing up and generally looking after each other. This joint activity strengthened the friendly atmosphere, and also helped to develop skills and to increase independence.
Creativity wasn’t forgotten. We had the traditional Talent Show and when it was rainy we all danced in the disco. Finally, everyone took part in the traditional sports day. Physical activity and sport is very important for our children who have very little opportunity to take part in sport outside the camp.
Irina Lialina, mother of Misha and Faith and Light leader
Summer camp for budding forestry workers
Teenagers in the Girvas Forestry Club have been busy for the last month and a bit doing the weeding in the tree nursery, clearing fly-tipping in the forest and more. We are very proud of their efforts to protect their beautiful local environment.
St Gregory’s together with our Russian sister charity, Let’s Help Each Other, provided funding to feed the participants through the summer an immunize them against tick-borne encephalitis, which is endemic in the forest. Thanks to our donors the teenagers are learning to love the beautiful local forest, are receiving a solid vocational education, and have a more nutritious diet through the summer.
Major grant to help parents who grew up in orphanages
Congratulations to Sunflower, our partner organisation that works with orphanage-leavers. They have won a grant from Amway, an international company, which will fund their work with parents who grew up in orphanages and their children for an entire year.
This means that we can help the organisation to develop. We have already funded Sunflower to run extra seminars for staff working at a state-run family-support centre starting in September. Over the summer we will be thinking carefully about how else we can best help them.
St Gregory’s summer newsletter out now
Our summer newsletter is available online and print copies will be mailed out soon. Download for news from our work with parents who grew up in orphanages, children with hearing impairments, and poor families in need of food parcels.
Orphanage-leavers and their children to take part in international exhibition
Parents and children from the Sunflower Centre will have their art work exhibited at the XVIII International Ballet Festival in Riga later this month.
The group, which supports parents who grew up in orphanages to be better parents, has been working hard in preparation. They have visited a ballet theatre and museum, and have created their own scenes thanks to a kind donor who paid for the art materials.
We are very impressed by their art work. One of the best pictures has been added to our e-card page so you too can send it to your friends.