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, 2013

Thank you for making our summer camps a success!

We were lucky enough this year to win two grants, which allowed us to run two summer camps for parents who grew up in Russian orphanages and their children. The first camp was for families who have already been taking part in our family support group for some time.  The second was for new families who we have been visiting at home, and who have not yet joined the support group.  All in all 24 families took part.  Your donations were vital.  Your generosity allowed us to provide all the food for the second group of families, which encouraged them to take part.  You also helped bought all the supplies so we could rewire our wooden cottage and make it safe for our families.  Thank you!

Our first group of parents all understand what we are trying to do at camp and see it is a really important opportunity to improve their relationship with their children.  They are willing to help with the organisation, indeed, one of our dads, a qualified electrician, volunteered to do the rewiring, so we only had to pay for supplies.  

With this group of families our main theme of the camp was avoiding violence of all kinds, emotional and verbal as well as physical.  Violence doesn't horrify the parents.  They have experienced violence of all kinds, and yet barely recognise it.  They think it is normal for them and their children to be badly treated.  They find it particularly difficult to recognise emotional violence, and think that in not meeting their children's needs they are helping them to become more independent.

The parents were delighted to find that when they changed their approach, their children's behaviour changed very quickly.  "When my children used to cry and demand that I did this or that, I tried to talk to them using this new approach.  I am still amazed - they started to talk to me too, and not just to shout at me.  We managed to agree and for the rest of the day they would cuddle up to me and be very affectionate."

We also did a lot of work on maintaining a good routine of feeding the children and putting them to bed.  Again, the parents were amazed at how quickly their children's behaviour improved.  Quite apart from this, we all had a lot of fun!  One of the highlights was when the parents all did impressions of the leaders.

The second group of parents needed much more support at quite a basic level.  They are very lacking in confidence and anxious.  One mother was still refusing to feed her 14 month-old solids because she was so worried she would choke.  Another, with a toddler, thought her child would be too frightened to play with anyone else.  Most of all the parents simply didn't know how to make their children smile.  When we asked them how they made their child smile, the only thing they could think of was to tickle them.  During our camp, they saw their children relax and take an interest in their new experiences.  We got the mothers to perform a puppet theatre and took photos of the children's delight.  They cried when we showed them the pictures of their children grinning happily.  All the parents in the group now want to take part in our family support group that meets through the year.  This means that we can follow up on these hopeful beginnings and make sure smiling becomes a regular part of their family life.  

Thank you so much for making this possible.  It might seem unbelievable to you that our parents need help with such absolute basics, but we can never underestimate the damage caused by their orphanage upbringing.  What you can be sure of is their commitment to do better, and their ability to transform their relationship with their children.

Jul 25, 2013

Mother's death means more mouths to feed

A week ago, the single mother of one of the long term residents of our shelter for homeless teenagers died. Her son's name is Bachi and she leaves him and five sisters, who had nowhere to go but to our shelter. As they are under age we will be looking to see what options the State might offer and then make a decision as to whether the girls would be better off with the option or not. If unsatisfactory, of course we will continue to care for the girls ourselves. We have started on their rehabilitation (alas the family and school/no school life they had had was extremely dysfunctional).

Thank goodness that, with the help of St Gregory's Foundation, we have our own house so that these girls have somewhere to go. Our shelter is only a family sized house, now rather overcrowded, but it is better than the streets.

So here are the residents of Mkurnali House:

  • Bachi's 5 newly arrived sisters
  • 4 girls, the long term residents we know
  • The four girl's 5 babies we know
  • 8 long term boy residents, most at work but needing to live 'at home' (ie our shelter)
  • the newly released (from prison) brother of one of the long term residents
  • 9 boys released in a recent government amnesty. 11 were released in total, but two were found jobs with a furniture factory and have been moved to a province by the company to work on a very large order for Batumi, the resort on the Black Sea.

Our policy to never turn teenagers away when they are in desperate need is being stretched to the limit. We are so grateful to all our supporters, both in Tbilisi and those we have never met around the world, and we trust that you will share our compassion for these newly orphaned children. Can you donate today to help us feed them?

Jul 23, 2013

Your support has helped children hearing problems

Our graduates!
Our graduates!

With your help we've been running not one but two support groups for children with hearing impairments in St Petersburg.  As we enjoy our summer holidays, I wanted to tell you about some of the successes we've had in the last six months.  

One of our babies is 10 months old.  She has two cochlear implants, which can help replace lost hearing sensations.  At first these weren't adjusted correctly and she would flinch at loud noises.  We adjusted it, but then she stopped reacting to speech.  Third time lucky! Now with the correct adjustment she has started to talk.

Vova, Philip and three of their friends are now able to recognise songs in our music sessions and move to the music.

Our toddlers are also doing well.  They can say short words like "da" (yes) and "dai" (give me).

One of our mums came to us when her baby was very little, straight after she had been told her baby had a hearing impairment.  She was having trouble accepting this diagnosis, but with support from our leaders and the other parents, she is coming to terms with it.

Lastly, the children in our photo will all be joining mainstream kindergartens next year.

Congratulations to all our children who have made such great progres.  Thank you to everyone who has helped them along the way.

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