St Gregory's Foundation

St Gregory's Foundation works in Russia and the former Soviet Union to tackle the social problems facing children, teenagers, parents and carers. Our projects address the root causes of disadvantage by putting families before institutions, strengthening a sense of responsibility in young and old alike and providing opportunities for vulnerable people to fulfill their potential. Our work makes our beneficiaries active participants in improving their own lives and encourages a more charitable society.
Jun 12, 2014

Thank you for a great year supporting orphans

As we break for the summer we're looking back on an eventful year and want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to help so many young people as they make the transition from state care to independent life.

Over the last year we've held 86 group sessions for 18 young people, 55 individual counselling sessions for 15 young people and have supported 11 young people with home visits from a social worker.

Our greatest achievement this year is that our group is really motivated to change their lives rather than waiting for someone to come and do it for them.  This means that we don't depend on staff from their hostel to bring them to meetings any more because they come independently.  The group is also growing organically as our young people bring their friends along.

The group has really gelled and the young people support each other as well as talking their problems through with us.  We have three volunteers who also grew up in orphanages but are a little older and have children.  They tell us how important the meetings are for them and how much they want to help the younger ones not to feel alone in the world.  They have invited group members to their homes and welcomed them into their families in a wonderful way.

Our young people used to be reluctant to come and talk to us individually.  They didn't want the group to think they were weak.  Now, they are keen to talk.  As some of them have started living independently new problems have cropped up that they want to discuss.  They need advice on relationships with neighbours, relatives, and sometimes their parents (they are social orphans in that their parents abandoned them or they were taken into care).  When they leave the orphanage system our young people sometimes want to make contact with their parents but they also feel very understandable anger.  Without help it is very difficult for them to deal with these conflicting emotions.

Marina tells us about her difficulties:

"I suspect that my mum and brother want to take my flat off me.  They are always inviting me round and asking me about my life.  They explain that we are a family, but I don't understand what that means, a family.  I don't feel anything towards them and I don't know what a family is.  That woman, my mum, is crying all the time, but I don't believe a word she says.  I'm sure they want to take their flat.  I've decided not to see them any more."

After a lot of discussion with us, Marina is beginning to build up a relationship with her family.  She has given her mum a mobile phone and they often talk.  She has even started to care a little about them and wants to help her mother, who is disabled.

Another important development is that, thanks to the Global Giving community, we have been able to employ a social worker, who visits young people at home.  This has helped us bring new people into the group who were too nervous at first to join in.  They find it much easier to take the first step on familiar territory.  The social worker has also encouraged several of our young people to take the big step of moving into their own flat.  They help them plan how they will pay their bills and in the group we've been tackling the big fear of living alone after a life-time lived in dormitories.  Our young people worked out that they could ask a friend to come and live with them.

When we start working with young people who grew up in orphanages they usually either say that everything is fine, or that their lives are terrible although usually neither is true.  We need time to get to know them so that we can show them their own strengths and help them start to solve their own problems.  We are very grateful to you all for giving us that time.  We look forward to next year, to meeting more young people needing help, and to supporting this year's group further along their journey.

May 26, 2014

Preparing for our summer camp

Summer is on its way and we are actively preparing for the summer camp we'll be leading, with your help, for parents who grew up in orphanages and their young children.  

Although the camp itself won't take place until August, we have already selected the families, who we think will benefit the most from taking part.  It is important that all the families are motivated and willing to work hard to improve their relationships.  We can give them opportunities and support, but only they can change how they relate to their children.

Last year, thanks to a generous donation, we were able to rebuild the traditional stove in our log cabin.  This has freed up space for an extra bunk bed so we can now accommodate 25 people.  This year ten families will take part, plus of course the leaders and volunteers. 

Between now and the camp itself we will meet each family twice to help them prepare.  The first time is a group meeting to tell everyone what they need to bring with them and what their responsibilities are during the camp.  We use a tried and tested structure to the camp that encourages the parents to take responsibility for their own children and helps everyone get on together as a group.  It's very helpful if everyone understands this before they arrive.  The second meeting is on an individual basis.  We discuss with each family what they are hoping to gain from the summer camp and what support they will need.

Meanwhile, the log cabin is being prepared for the summer camp.  The thaw has only just arrived in the Valdai hills (it is just 48 degrees F/9 degrees C at the moment), so we have put the heating on to dry out the building before our families arrive.

Thank you again for donating and helping make our summer camp possible.  Look out for our next report when we'll tell you how our families got on during the camp.

Apr 10, 2014

Club for kids with impaired hearing celebrates

Nikita when he was a member of our Club
Nikita when he was a member of our Club

Our Club for children with impaired hearing and their parents has just celebrated its tenth birthday.  For ten years we have been offering families help, support and friendship from the moment they discover their child's disability.  For ten years we have been working to make sure that deaf toddlers don't miss out on learning to communicate.  

At our party we were delighted to see children, who have already grown up and go to school, chat away, and use speech to communicate.  Christina and Borya use speech and sign language.  They go to school, as do Nikita and Yulia.  Maxim, Makar and Seraphima all go to kindergarten.  In the photos you can see how Nikita has grown up since he was a member of our Club.  We also invited a group of folk musicians, he kept us all entertained.

We heard many kind words from the parents at the party.  They spoke about how important it was for them to come to the Club, to be able to meet other parents in the same situation as well as specialists, and to be able to share experiences, receive support and become more confident in raising their child.

Thank you all for your support.  Here's to the next ten years!

P.S.  Would you like to help us prepare for the next Global Giving bonus day on May 7th? If you have 20 minutes to spare and would like to get more involved, please e-mail Sarah Gale on sarah.sgf@live.com.

Nikita at our tenth birthday party
Nikita at our tenth birthday party
An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?