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 10, 2013

You're helping Pasha come out of his shell

Music and dance at our Club
Music and dance at our Club

I first saw Pasha in the autumn.  He came with his mum to our Club.  Pasha was 2 years-old then, and he was a very timid little boy, with a nervous smile and awkward movements.  He just couldn't make up his mind to come into the room where all the children, with their mums, were dancing, singing and having fun.  Pasha just peeped through the door and then went back into the corridor.  It was obvious that he wanted to be with everyone, but either fear or indecision held him back.

Then I took a few toys and went out to him in the corridor.  His mum was sitting down, tired, while Pasha lay on a share and rhythmically rocked himself looking at the ceiling.  Apart from the lights, it didn't look like anything interested him.  His mum explained, "for the first two years, Pasha couldn't walk.  At all.  He moved around on his back, orientating himself by the ceiling".

I said, "One! Two! Three! Lights go out!" and I switched off the light.  Pasha turned to look at me.  I asked him, "Shall we turn the lights back on?".  In reply he smiled and I understood that that meant "Yes!".  Again I said, "One! Two! Three! Lights come on!".  We repeated this many times, and this is how we began to get to know one another.

Pasha's mum told me their story.  Not knowing that she was pregnant, she took the flu vaccine, which, according to her doctor had sad consequences.  Her little boy was born with multiple developmental disabilities, including damage to his inner ear.  "We knew that he would be born with problem. The scan told us that.  But his father and I decided not to abandon our son".  Despite their dedication, however, his parents were having trouble understanding Pasha's signals.

Step by step, Pasha started getting more involved in the Club's activities.  To begin with he would come and join in for just five minute, then fifteen . . .

Now, Pasha comes before all the others and listens to music, dances, plays, and draws with all the others.  He gets up to lots of interesting and important things.  Most of all he loves to dance the waltz!

Pasha's mum also smiles now.  She notices and is proud of her son's achievements and says to him, "Well, Pasha, I didn't think that you had it in you!".

Our Club is the only place where Pasha and his mum can be supported.  Without such support more parents may abandon their disabled children to orphanages.  You can help more children, if you donate on Wednesday 12th June, when GlobalGiving will add 40% to your donation so it will buy even more food for us. This applies to all donations up to $1,000 made through globalgiving.org (not the UK site) after 9am EDT (2pm in UK) until midnight EDT or when matching funds run out

May 20, 2013

You're helping work miracles for our orphanage-leavers.

"I thought that such miracles could only happen in church, when you stand for a long time looking at an icon - suddenly from somewhere the answer to your question comes to you.  That is what happened to me in this group.  I come here with a question, I talk and talk, and then, as if from nowhere, I feel that I have been given what I need." Ksenia aged 19.

A few months ago Ksenia was like all the other teenagers in our support group.  She was scared and distrustful and would only come to sessions when there was safety in numbers.  It's not surprising.  Teenagers in the system can be sent to psychiatric clinics when staff find they can't cope with their behaviour.

Now that trust has been built up, the group can't get enough attention.  Our colleagues have split them into small groups of three so that they get more individual attention, while still learning to relate better to their peers.  Altogether 28 young people have regularly been attending our sessions, and 13 of them have come for individual counselling sessions.

We have noticed that our young people have developed better self-control through this process and are much better at communicating with us and each other. Equally, our work with their teachers has helped them to resolve conflicts better, to listen more, and to understand better the needs and concerns of the young people in their care.

This progress is thanks to your generous support.  It takes patience and time to make a breakthrough with deeply troubled young people.  We are rewarded by knowing that Ksenia and her friends will benefit from this experience for the rest of their lives.

May 20, 2013

A month to find $2,000

We have good news! In our last report we said we were waiting to hear whether we would receive a grant from the St Petersburg local authorities for our summer camp for parents who grew up in orphanages and their children.  Well we did.  The grant will cover the salaries of the leaders who work so hard to make the camps a success.  Now we have just a month to find the remaining $2,000 to cover the food, transport, art and craft materials etc that are just as essential.  We are very grateful that you have already been so generous.  Can you spare us a moment now to forward this e-mail to friends or post about the project on Facebook or Twitter.  Thank you so much!

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