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 othermodels 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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