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.
Sep 24, 2014

How you helped Teona escape homelessness

Teona
Teona

We got introduced to Teona when she was 14. Just when she was released from the Children's shelter and she was on the streets again. Teona was selling flowers in the restaurants by night while she and her friends were sleeping in a basement of a wrecked building.

Teona started attending our sewing classes. Teona had 3 rooms in a communal apartment while the other 2 was owned by her neighbours who wanted to get rid of Teona so they could have her rooms and they didn’t let Teona live peacefully there. One day when Teona went home the neighbours dragged Teona into their room beat her up, called the police and said that Teona tried attacking them with a knife that she pulled out, out of her back pocket when the trousers she was wearing didn’t even have a back pocket.

The police caught Teona and the law court was deciding that they were going to give her 4 years of prison but we found out soon enough to get involved and instead of the 4 years they let Teona free.  In the video (http://youtu.be/Wz_Br2b4OUY), Teona describes how frightened she was before we got involved with our legal service.

After that Teona continued sewing classes in Mkurnali and stayed overnight with us too. Teona is now married with 2 children and they live in Teona's communal 3 rooms, because after the trial the police told the neighbours to be careful with the way they treat Teona. At the moment Teona cannot use the skills she learned at Mkurnali because she has 2 children to raise but she is sewing for her own children.

You played a vital part in helping Teona get back on her feet.  Our legal team and sewing teacher have given Teona a fresh start, but it was vital that Teona could stay with us while we helped her resolve the conflict in her life.  We don't turn anyone away, whether they need a short respite stay, or to make us their home for a longer period.  We can only do this if we can feed them, so we are very grateful to you for your help.

Teona wearing one of her creations
Teona wearing one of her creations

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Aug 28, 2014

You're giving Natalia the chance to be a hero

Natalia
Natalia

Natalia is one of three volunteers that helps us support young people as they age out of the orphanage system in St Petersburg.  They all grew up in orphanages themselves and a few years ago they would have struggled to look after themselves.  Now they are desperate to make life easier for the younger ones.

Natalia and the other volunteers tell us how important it is for them to take part in this project, how the worry before every session, how they like to discuss with us how the group is progressing.  They understand what our young people are going through, because they've been there themselves.  They have taken the initiative in inviting members of the group round and introducing them to their family.  It is very important for them to prevent our young people from feeling lonely, to introduce them to life beyond the children's home and to help them get on with people.  Natalia's was a particular help to one of our group-members who was feeling unmotivated.  She encouraged her to keep attending and keep learning.

Natalia and her friends get a huge amount out of volunteering themselves.  All through their childhood they were told they were useless, and here they are helping other people in a way that only they can.  They give friendship and a depth of understanding that we, the experts, can never give.  

We want to celebrate our fabulous volunteers and thank you for giving them a chance to be heros.  Your donations have allowed us to train our volunteers and to give them ongoing support through the year.

Before we go, we have a special message for our UK-based supporters.  Between 1st and 8th September GlobalGiving UK are adding 50% to donations.  This is a great time to make your donation go further.  If you can't make a donation now, we'd be really grateful if you could share this report.  If you'd like a reminder when the bonus week starts, please contact Sarah Gale (sarah.sgf@live.com).  Thank you!

Aug 4, 2014

How your donation helped Olga

Olga has three children, two girls and a boy.  She grew up in a children's home and so did her mother.  This is why she found it difficult to bond with her children.  With her two boys she says, “I was on auto-pilot.  I didn’t feel anything towards them.”  Bonding with her third child was easier, and now she has a much closer relationship with them.  She is still working hard to improve her family life.

Olga recently agreed to have her story published in a booklet we wrote to help social workers and psychologists understand the outlook of parents who grew up in orphanages.  She really hopes that this will help them help other people in her situation.  We hope her story will also give you an idea of how our summer camps, which you have contributed so generously towards, help our families make long-term changes in their lives.  Olga and her children also comes to our family support centre through the year.  She describes the long journey she's taken to get to the point where she can ask for help and realise she isn't alone.

"After I left the orphanage I went to study so that I wouldn't fall in with a bad crowd.  I got my certificate and then I started another course because I didn't have anywhere else to go.  I wasn't given a room straight away.  When I got my room I already had my son.  But what to do with him? Thank you to the neighbour who told me I should wash him.  Every time there was a problem I called an ambulance.  I felt abandoned and then I had another son.  My husband drank and worked and I was left alone with the children.  I didn't find out straight away when I was pregnant the third time, but I was very glad when I found out it would be a girl.

I often wanted someone from the centre to come and ask me how they could help me.  I had so much pain stored up inside and I wanted to tell someone about it.  The first time I went on the summer camp it was really difficult.  I wanted to run away and hide, but I had to solve my own problems.  I wanted to open up, but instead I got frustrated and behaved badly.  I couldn't openly ask for help.  The second time was easier and I noticed more about how I was behaving.  One day, my daughter was being naughty at lunch.  She wouldn't eat and nothing I did was right.  So, I took her and left and we both went hungry.  I expected one of the specialists to come after me, but nobody did.  My daughter didn't understand what was happening and didn't say sorry and I didn't know what to do.  At home I would have simply ignored her or shouted at her, but here you couldn't do that.  I dreamt about this day.  It really bothered me, but I didn't want to admit that I really needed help, that I didn't know what to do.  I've got three children, but I never learnt how to ask for help.  Instead, I run away and clam up and expect someone to come after me and offer to help.  It took me three years taking part in the programme to realise that I need help and that I can ask for it openly.

I've learnt such a lot from the programme.  I've learnt how to behave with my daughter, how to deal with her when she's being naughty, how to respond when she asks for something, how to look her in the eye when I talk to her, and how to play with her.  I've missed out on so much with my sons.  I should have started when they were younger because it's much more difficult to start now. I really love watching my daughter laughing and enjoying what we have between us.

We have so much pain inside that we can’t deal with it alone, nothing’s like we think it is.  We’re grown up but we need someone to listen to us and free us from what we’ve lived through.  We also have to learn to ask for help, but I still find that very difficult.”  

This year's summer camp starts soon.  Look out for our report in about a month's time when we'll tell you how our families have got on.  If you are UK-based, you might like to know that between 1st and 8th September GlobalGiving UK are adding 50% to donations.  If you'd like to be reminded nearer the time, please e-mail Sarah Gale (sarah.sgf@live.com) or "like" our Facebook page.

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