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.
Feb 25, 2013

How your donation helped hearing impaired Fedya

Fedya
Fedya

Fedya first came to our club in September 2012 with his mum.  This was a difficult time for her as tried to come to terms with Fedya's hearing impairment.  In January they started to come to the club regularly and since then they have both changed.  Fedya is very curious about the world around him, and his mother helps him with everything.

As well as organised group games to encourage the children to listen, the club also uses finger painting and toys to interact with the children in more natural situations as you can see in our video.  They are encouraged to listen and to respond with signs and words if they have started to talk.  Parents who don't have any hearing problems can find it difficult to communicate with their hearing-impaired child.  These sessions help the parents as much as the children by strengthening communication between them.

It costs £13/$20 to put on a play and painting session for 15 children and their parents.  Your donation could help Fedya go to a mainstream kindergarten one day.

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Feb 20, 2013

Our Russian orphanage-leavers are making progress.

 "I talk to you and I feel that I exist, that I'm alive.  Before, I had to get beaten up to feel anything." 

Our orphanage-leavers are making progress at the deepest, most painful level as Dima's comment makes so clear.  Dima is just 17.  We are so grateful to you for making it possible to provide them with the counselling they need to do so.  Can you imagine what kind of a life Dima would lead if no-one cared enough to help him deal with this trauma? 

We have been working hard with our group of orphans in the first year of technical college.  Having been abandoned by their parents, these young people have learnt not to trust adults.  After testing the boundaries, they realise now that our colleagues are genuinely interested in them, and that they aren't going anywhere.  Now the group are happy to talk more openly about their experiences.  Now that everyone has grown to trust each other, we take them on outings to art workshops run by friends of ours.  It's a very important way of introducing the group to new people, new experiences, and to travelling independently on public transport. 

With the older group, who will leave the orphanage at the end of the year, we are talking a great deal about their new homes, how they will look after their home, and what they will do there.  Strange thought it might seem, despite the difficulties of orphanage life, most of the residents are terrified of leaving.  Knowing nothing else, they think only of ways of prolonging their studies so they can stay on, or how they can live and work with their friends from the orphanage and try to recreate the atmosphere.  It is difficult for them to confront these feelings, so we hold an art workshop with them regularly to help them express and deal with their negative emotions. 

We have also been making progress with the staff at the orphanage, who have been attending seminars.  They take an interest in our work and several times have asked us to help them resolve conflicts with the young people. 

We must help this valuable progress continue, so that our young people are able to face life after the orphanage with confidence.  If you'd like to make an ongoing commitment to our orphanage-leavers, the wonderful people at Global Giving give you the possibility of setting up a regular donation through their site.  If you set up a monthly donation via globalgiving.org you may even have your donation matched.  Regular giving is really fantastic, because it means we can promise our young people that we will continue to be there for them while they need us.

Feb 12, 2013

How our summer camps help - a volunteer's view

Our summer camp centre
Our summer camp centre

Volunteers play an important part in our summer camps for parents who grew up in orphanages.  With their children the can act as role models, but they also learn a lot through the process.  Natalia, one of our volunteers has written about her impressions:

"I think it was particularly useful that during the summer camp the parents could put the skills learnt in intensive activities quickly into practice with the “real time” correction of the group and the specialists.  Being separated from everyday life and the bustle of the city made it possible for the parents to concentrate and work effectively on the tasks they were set.


For me it was a revelation to see how the particularities of children’s behaviour (both “bad” and “good”) are in fact a reflection of the state of their parents, and that the improvement in the parents’ state is reflected in their children and also to see how the parents’ lack of sensitivity to their own needs and emotions stops them from being sensitive to their child’s needs.  Several situations that I observed brought me to the conclusion that orphanage leavers don’t perceive  the often harsh way they relate to their children as being severe, but as being the norm.  I can understand that it is the result of their traumatic childhood experiences.  At the camp, I saw how the parents copied the behaviour of the specialists towards the children with their own children.  The parents are capable of seeing other
models of behaviour and realising that what they consider to be childish naughtiness can in fact be the natural expression of the child’s needs.


If during the first days of the programme I felt that the scale of the problems was so big that it would be impossible to move beyond stalemate, by the end of the camp, I had seen the children's behaviour begin to change, and the parents began to express varied feelings and emotions rather than the usual defensive mask.  I could see that this type of work was effective, despite being time-limited."

We look forward to this summer where new members of the support group will be able to feel the benefit of a camp at this simple log cabin.  We are very grateful to an organisation called The Besom for donating £2,000 to install a new stove.  In traditional Russian style, this is used not only for heating, but also for hot water so it is absolutely essential.  The old stove was condemned, so it is fantastic that with this donation we have been able to save the future of these summer camps. 

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