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.
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.

Jul 5, 2013

Ludmilla finds a summer job thanks to your support

Ludmilla's story shows so clearly how little the support we're giving young people in orphanages has in common with the attitude of the regular staff in those institutions.  Ludmilla should be proud of herself, and so should you.  She might not have found her job without your support, so thank you!

Usually in the summer holidays all the orphanage residents are sent to summer camps.  This year several members of our support group, all of them over eighteen, decided that they would like to get a job during the holidays.  They turned to us for help.  They had a real difficulty in negotiating with the administration and care staff, who were determined not to take any risks and to take them to the summer camp with the rest.  They also would have to find somewhere to live because the "children's home" would be closed through the summer.

To begin with five people wanted to work, but three of them were persuaded to give up on their plans.  The other two were quite firm in their intentions.  One of these was Ludmilla.

Of course, these first steps towards independence on their part needed support.  Ludmilla decided not to talk to the administration about her plans, but to be as independent as possible.  She regularly updated us on her progress and this is what happened.

Ludmilla and her friend found work as auxiliaries in the surgical department of a local hospital where they had both undergone treatment.  Ludmilla describes how she found the job:

"I find it very interesting there, it's all familiar to me.  Children stay there when they are having an operation.  I can see how upset the parents get, how they cry and don't know how to help their children.  At night I can spend time with the patients and look after them after their operation.  The doctors like me and the patients' families thank me.  I feel that I am needed and that there's something I can actually do."

Ludmilla solved her accommodation problem very simply.  She and her friend rented a room from a friend.  This was a huge step towards independence.  Ludmilla phones us to tell to us what is going on at work and we give her support and encouragement.

We are delighted that Ludmilla has exceeded the low expectations of orphanage staff, many of whom see independence as just too big a risk and unwittingly reinforce a dependency culture, which leaves many orphanage leavers incapable of working.

Jul 5, 2013

Final preparations for our summer camp

The base for our summer camp
The base for our summer camp

All the parents waiting to go on summer camp grew up in orphanages.  This year we will lead two summer camps.  One for families who are members of our support group that meets regularly.  The other for new families who have greater problems and who we help through home visits.  The camps will be a highlight for them and their children, and a valuable way of strengthening their family. 

A great deal of work is going on to get our camp facilites ready to welcome our families.  Rubbish is being cleared, the garden tidied, the new stove is being completed, the electrics fixed and other small jobs.  Since we have a lot of work to do in St Petersburg, we appealed to our families for help.  Several families offered at once and themselves sorted out who could be there when to keep an eye on the workmen and volunteers.

At the moment two families are staying on site.  Both of them have been on the summer camps three times, so they understand what the rules are for staying there and how we set things up.  They were surprised when they arrived and saw the log cabin, which hasn't been lived in since last summer, all packed up and totally unready for the summer.  However, they quickly established the routines we keep to at summer camp, sharing out the chores, cleaning up every day, sticking to a routine, feeding the children, and, most important, making sure the children are supervised at all times.

They have been looking after all the work that's going on.  They are regularly in touch over the phone to report back and ask advice.  Not long ago they told us that their husbands were happy to join the volunteers doing building work through July. 

In this way we gradually include our families in the organisational work, allowing them to take on more responsibility.  We are very proud about how they have risen to the challenge.

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