The first thing that most young people do when they are let out of the orphanage, is to go out and get drunk. What lies behind this behaviour is one of the main themes for discussion at our orphanage-leavers support group.
Olga (aged 19) said, "I wanted to understand what freedom is. I spent all my money, which I was given when I left the children's home, and I bought myself a lot of food, treated my friends, went out a lot, gave expensive presents to my friends and all sorts. Then I bought a lot of different kinds of alcohol and drank it all at once with my friends. My money's finished, but I don't feel very free."
By discussing their behaviour, to their great surprise, the young people discover their natural needs to be close to others people, for love, for freedom etc. Now our group is helping our young people learn how to use their freedom in less destructive ways.
The best present we can give them this New Year, a present that will last a lifetime, is the support they need to turn over a new leaf.
P.S. Lena and Natasha, who run the club, asked me to explain that during such personal discussions it isn't really possible to take photographs. We are sure you understand their need to protect the trust they have built up.
Art work is a great way of connecting with people! The Sunflower club uses art a great deal, especially with orphanage "graduates" who have young children. This summer the orphanage leavers Sunflower supports took part in a public exhibition. What a confidence boost to all involved!
We need to continue boosting their confidence, developing their creativity and helping them connect with people around them so that they can have successful adult lives.
Your donation can help us do even more of this if you donate on Wednesday 19th October. On October 19, GlobalGiving.org is matching at 30% all online donations up to $1,000 per donor per project! There is $100,000 available in matching funds starting at 12:01 am EDT. They will match until 11:59pm EDT or until matching funds run out.
Will you give teenagers a helping hand as they leave St Petersburg orphanages?
The summer holidays are over and our project helping orphanage-leavers prepare for adult life got started up again at the beginning of this month.
Over the summer, several of the young people undertook work placements organised by their college. Some of them have been given part-time jobs at the end of the summer, which they will have to do alongside their studies. One young man will be doing one shift a week at the local bread factory.
Orphanage-leavers find it difficult to settle in a job. They often decide that they don't like what they trained in, and start a new course at the college rather than leave and find work. The technical college and the students' hostel are very familiar, almost like the orphanage. The workplace is scary and unfamiliar and the young people find it difficult to cope with new people, new routines and independent living.
The group will meet specially on Saturdays to help those who are working and studying at the same time to help them with these difficulties. They will continue to meet during the week also.
We wish all our orphanage-leavers well, and thank you for helping this project continue.
"All my life I dreamt about going hiking with other grown ups, somewhere where no-one knew me. I was very interested in how I would be with them, and how they would relate to me. Now, not a day goes by when I don't remember this journey: about how I deliberately got myself lost so that they would come looking for me, about how they talked openly with me, and about how I wasn't offended by them. I can't wait for September when I can come to the group and see them all again."
Thanks to our Global Giving donors Nadia's dream came true. Our Russian colleagues have just led a hiking trip for eight families and Nadia, a member of the group for teenagers who are about to leave or have just left the children's home.
This was a joint venture between the teenagers' group and a special group for parents who grew up in children's homes and who have pre-school age children. The two groups are both run by Elena and Natalia's team, and they both benefit from joint activities. Two of the families were volunteers, who help the ex-orphanage members of the group to connect beyond their own social group. Sadly, staff in the local children's homes were worried that their teenagers might not be ready to take part. Fortunately, the older members of the teenagers' group, those who have already left the children's home, find it easier to keep in touch independently.
The hike is a great opportunity to try new things, meet new people, learn how to overcome problems and grow in confidence. Thank you for making it happen.
"What good news you have sent us!For us it is an unexpected joy!Our group has been looking forward to and preparing for the summer hike and camp, and, or course, such financial support gives us confidence and credibility to our plans.With gratitude to all our supporters, Elena"
This is how our Russian colleagues reacted to the news that we're about to transfer the latest chunk of your donations. We would like to thank you too for helping give such pleasure and support to our group of teenage orphans.
The first year of the project has been such a success that we want it to keep going for next year. Can you help us find more supporters by sharing this page on Facebook or Twitter?
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