The Andrey Rylkov Foundation

ARF is a grass-roots organization with a mission to promote and develop humane drug policy based on tolerance, protection of health, dignity and human rights. We use 4 key strategies: advocacy, human rights watchdog, service provision and capacity-building of affected communities.
Dec 27, 2016

Helping children to get ready for school in 2016

We have developed our "children's project" for more than 2 years. The purpose of this project is to make it possible for our drug using clients to have warm, friendly interactions with their children. Parents who use drugs often face various difficulties. It can be lack of money to provide for their children everything they need, they often feel exhausted, have health problems and are usually biased. We help the parents to cope with these difficulties and built close relationships with their children so they could feel like they are "good moms and dads." We regularly organize various activities for children and their families, where children can have fun, learn something new, get some presents and, most importantly,  communicate with their parents in a relaxed, warm atmosphere.

August is the time to get children ready for school. Parents have to purchase uniforms, school bags, notebooks, pens, rulers, study books, painting kits and a bunch of other important things. For the majority of Russian parents it is a huge part of the family budget. For our clients the prices for all those things could be unbearable and sometimes getting their children for school turns into a little family Apocalypse. That’s why it is important for us to make it a pleasant activity for both children and their parents: instead causing stress it should be an opportunity for mutual activities and a joyful friendly family communication. That's what our project is about - we not only simply buy and distribute pencils and notebooks, but we also build opportunities together with our clients to make such warm and friendly moments happen. That's why this year we decided to help the parents once more.

We would like to thank everyone who helped us collect the money for their selfless work; and now we want to tell how we managed to collect the necessary amount and what we did with it. So we had to collect 35 thousand rubles in no more than 3 weeks till the 1st of September. We got requests for help from 9 families out of 30 families participating in our project. We managed to collected 36100 rubles as a result of crowd funding through social networks and Global Giving platform. Donations were received from more than 40 people. Seeing that so many different people united to collect the money and help the children was very motivating for us. As always, during the fundraising we provided transparent reports on the collected money and openly informed about all incoming funds.

As a result, we bought a lot of useful things for the kids: several school uniforms, backpacks, cold weather boots and shoes to wear at school or indoors, hats, gloves, jeans, socks, blankets, pillows, sheets, notebooks, pens, pencils, painting kits, t-shirts for physical education and even a desk lamp. It took us some time to buy all these things and we finished the process only by the middle of October. 

Here are a few stories from our social workers who accompanied the parents and the kids at the shops, photographed the whole process and paid for the purchases.

Ezhi, ARF social worker:

I went to the store with Tania and her son Vanya to get a backpack. We didn't find anything good at the first two shops so we had to walk around a little bit until we found the backpack that everyone liked. I really enjoyed the trip: Tanya and Vanya are very close and we all chatted the whole way to the mall and happily walked there, although Vanya was shy at first. Eventually we bought a very adult-looking backpack in O'stin, and then we sat at the cafeteria a little bit. Vanya told me about his school and a football class, while Tanya made funny comments to his story, they communicated like old friends and I felt very comfortable with them chatting like that. They walked me to the station after that and sent me a very touching message later that evening: "Thanks again, Vanya is very happy! It was a great trip! Everyone liked the backpack. Vanya told his Dad that you look pretty)))!" In short, it was great and they made my day.

Lema, a social worker and psychologist at ARF:

"A few days ago a received a call from Vasya who was asking whether we have a spare jacket for Andrey (his son)". Today we went to the shop and bought a jacket for Andrey (prior to this, he was wearing his father's old jacket). We also bought a hat, a pair of jeans (as I understood, Andrey had only one pair of trousers for school and a pair of sweatpants), gloves and socks. Andrey and Vasya thanked me so many times that it made me a bit uncomfortable. Seems like they really needed our help. Once again we had a nice heartfelt conversation. It's nice to see that, despite all the difficulties and the fact that it is not always easy to communicate with his son, Vasya really cares about Andrey and in my opinion they have a really great relationship. It delights my heart to see that! We went to the shop with Vitya, Vasya's friend. I was amazed that such caring men still exist - he helped to choose the jeans and gave some useful advice. After we walked out of the shop, he said: "The world is small but there are people with hearts of gold!"

"Yesterday I went to Auchan with Vika's family. There were 4 of us: I, Vika, Kolya (it was just going to be his first year at school) and Lilya, she's 4 or 5 years old. At first I did not like all of that commotion because we usually ask in advance to choose the things so we could just come and pay, while trying the clothes and choosing the right ones takes sooo long. But all of this was not in vain, of course - it would be very difficult for Vika to try the clothes and look after the kids at the same time. As a result, the four of us had a great trip but we also got very tired. We bought boots for a cold season, a red t-shirt for PE class, a desk lamp and a couple of desktop book stands. Kolya said that he also needed watersport goggles, can we buy them if we have some money left? The coolest thing was to look how they all interacted with each other. In the beginning, when we were in a bus to the mall, they were discussing at their Mom's suggestion what an amazing adventure it would be that day. And all three hours that we spent together, we were chatting, having fun and making photos. Kolya saw that I was taking photos and asked me to try that too, and he took some great shots! Kolya was very glad. He carefully chose the desk lamp and carried it around the whole day after that. It was a great trip".

Masha, ARF social worker:

Our client Tosya has a daughter Julia who needed a haircut for the first day of school. Albina Popovkina, a hairstylist, agreed to cut Julia's hair at her parlor. At first Julia worried that she would get a "wrong haircut". So the girl was very tense while she was sitting in the chair. But she got comfortable in a few minutes and explained what kind of haircut she would want, after a while she felt almost like at home and told us that she liked to draw and prefers paint to pencils. "It was fun to take photos of her and the stylist, before the haircut and after, and to show the photos after it". It was fun to see how Julia sneakingly tries to touch her hair and take a photo of it "for her friend". It was a wonderful experience for the girl to sit in a chair at a hair dressing saloon like an adult, in front of the mirrors, where you could talk about drawing and they even offered you a cup of coffee or tea. Albina, the hair stylist, is a simply wonderful person, - on the way back she talked with Julia about her drawing, she said that everyone would notice Julia's new haircut at school the next day and her mom would like it too..'

Thanks to these stories and many others, now we know for sure: a lot of good people interact and participate in our "Children's project" - all of them help each other and that makes our hearts grow tender!

We know that pleasant and inspiring memories about this phase of the children's project will remain with us and with all of those involved in the project, with everyone who donated money, things or their time and helped us. Positive experience and warm memories will help us implement other planned activities of this project. We're going to organize common leisure activities throughout the school year — trips to the theaters, museums, Planetarium and other interesting and educational places. We plan to set various art workshops for schoolchildren at our office.

And of course, the New Year's Eve is ahead, so we're going to make a small celebration and to give presents from Father Frost [Russian Santa Claus] and the Snow Maiden!

Thanks to everyone who participated in this project: children, parents, donors, social workers and volunteers. We are pleased to see that there are so many people who care!

How much we spent:

  • Valentina's family (2 daughters of school age): flats, shoes, headband, belt, pants, skirt, dress-3693 rub.
  • Larisa and her daughter Masha: shirt, pants and underwear-3082 rub.
  • Vasya and his son Andrey: indoor shoes, sweats, sneakers, warm jacket, jeans, hat, gloves, socks (had to go to the shop twice)-7350 rub.
  • Alexander has 3 kids, 2 of them go to school - they got 2 backpacks and the stationery - 3070 rub
  • Eugene and his son Misha: a backpack and boots-2559 rub.
  • Vika with 3 kids: Shoes for the autumn for Kolya, t-shirt for PE class, desktop book stand, desk lamp + linen and sleepers for all the kids - 7472 rub
  • Tosya and her daughter Julia: pencils and gel pens 1707. rub + Julia got a haircut for free
  • Tania from Maryino and her son Vanya - 2499 rub

Total: 36100 

Sep 30, 2016

ARF work with drug users featured on BBC!

Dear friends and supporters!

We are happy to share with you a BBC story on the work of Andrey Rylkov Foundation with drug users in Moscow. Its good to have a short film about our work - you can see our new minivan in work! And also some of our health outreach to the streets of Moscow. The BBC story also reveals some worrying news, that ARF was among 5 other HIV service organizations that were included in the Foreign Agents Registry just since the beginning of 2016. That means that we will not be able even to hope for the government support of our health work and more than ever we need your support! The good news is that on August 30th we have already won one court trial against the Ministry of Justice who wanted to fine us for not volunteering to the registry! That was an unprecedented court victory not only for the AIDS service but for all the Russian NGOs who fight with the oppressive and unfair Foreign agents law for several years. We are very happy to having won this court as this small but unexpected victory has  inspired other NGOs to fight for their rights and for the rights of the people they serve! Please enjoy the short BBC story about our work and spread the word among your friends - as we need your support even more than ever!   


Jun 15, 2016

Housewarming for the new office!

Mango-feminist Ezhi is feeding her family!
Mango-feminist Ezhi is feeding her family!

Dear friends!

We are happy to share our joy of having a new tiny office - after we worked for seven years without one, we were finally able to rent one thanks to the money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria!

Recently we had a small housewarming party and invited all our friends. We want to invite you too, and share our excitement about the new office that would allow us to offer some comfortable place for our staff and participants. For the past seven years, we had to be very inventive regarding finding places to carry out our seminars, trainings, team meetings, meetings with specialists, parties and so on We gathered in cafes, in apartments, in "shooting galleries," in the parks, in spaces provided by friendly organizations (special superthanks to the Sakharov Center in Moscow!) and where not!

This very short video perfectly captures how happy we are to have a little space for ourselves.

Importantly, the office will alow to develop new initiatives. For example just recently, several of our team members have formed a feminist group Mango. It focuses on women's needs and works with the families of drug users. Thanks to the  support of several Moscow theaters, museums, cultural centers we are able to organize cultural events for and with the families of people who use drugs. There are also common informal meetings, outdoor events, celebrations! Recently, one of our staff members a Mango-feminist Elena, started to provide English lessons to the kids of drug users - having our own office proved really helpful!

If you want to support our work with drug users, their families and kids, a perfect opportunity is right now! On Wednesday, June 15 beginning at 9:00:01 am EDT (Washington, DC time, =16.00 Moscow time), will be holding the annual Bonus Day and will match all the donations made through up to $1,000 per donor with 40% of their own funding! It would be great if you could support us today and enhance your donation!

Thank you very much for your continuing support and interest to our work!

with many warm wishes, ARF team.

Positive moments: exibition of drug users photos
Positive moments: exibition of drug users photos
Max and Stambul
Max and Stambul
our lawyer Anya is happy in the new office!
our lawyer Anya is happy in the new office!



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