Aug 1, 2017

When lunch is much more than lunch

Every day Russia House provides all the participants (members) of the Clubhouse rehabilitation program with free lunch meals and a variety of snacks from the so-called Clubhouse Snack Bar. Also, members living alone can take food away. An important feature of the Clubhouse rehabilitation approach is that the Clubhouse members participate in all aspects of the program activities working shouler-by-shoulder with program staff. Food preparation is one of the important tasks that members and staff do every day. For the Clubhouse members lunch preparation is a way to learn how to cook delicious meals, to obtain or regain skills of cooking,  to establish meaningful relationships with other people around. Everybody in the Clubhouse respects and appreciates those who cooked lunch. That is why this simple activity - cooking - helps people suffering severe mental illness feel themselves productive and needed. Participation in this "simple" activity helps them regain self-worth and self-confedence. That is why lunch at the Clubhouse is much more than lunch.

Dear Friends, thanks to your donations to Russia House made January to May 2017 we could provide 62 meals. And, as you know now, they were not only meals!

May 4, 2017

Russia House: a Story of Anrew's Life

Step to open world: Andrew in  Imagination museum
Step to open world: Andrew in Imagination museum

Andrew who is 46 now was born in the family where his father died early and mother suffered from schizophrenia and a few years ago died as well. At first his illness was rather mild, he finished the school, got a job, though he could not keep it for a long time. The illness didn’t touch intellectual sphere and Andrew had a sharp analytical mind. He took care of himself. Regretfully at the age of 30 he had a crisis. It was a hard and painful experience. Long and frequent hospitalizations began. When Andrew got out of the psychiatric hospital he struggled with the whole world: distant relatives, neighbours and even people he met in the street. He especially was irritated by the neighbours who lived upstairs and had a child. He fought, burned the wallpaper on the ceiling, banged with the stick at night and went on fighting, fighting, fighting. His hate ate him from inside. And finally he fell into deep indifference. He didn’t even have a will to go out for foodstuffs to the shop. And he could spend with no food for several days. To be more precise he lay in bed. He didn’t have energy and will to live any more. And he decided to end the only thing he could end – to live. End of Andrew, end of story. He remembered an American film in which a hero committed a suicide by injecting gasoline in his vein. He decided to act in this way. He got gasoline, and injected it but not in the vein, he just couldn’t find it because of the lack of experience. He didn’t die, but was taken to hospital again. It was a turning point in his life. He realized that, despite everything, he wanted to live. And this meant he had to rebuild the pieces of himself and his shattered life. It happened to be rather difficult because his illness had progressed enormously by that time. He felt strong apathy to everything. But somewhere deep in his mind Andrew realized that if he gave up he would die. And there appeared to be a long way from the bottomless depth up. The doctors suggested him new schemes of curing, he took part in probing new medicines. The changes to the best were hardly visible but they did take place! After he was released from the hospital he realized that he needed support. And he wrote a letter to a woman whom he met in the rehabilitation program (Human Soul House) that he visited long before the crisis, a woman who established Russia House and became its director. Here are the words from that letter:

‘Dear Tatiana, you remember we got acquainted at Human Soul House. Excuse me for taking your time. I am writing from hospital, I got here, as doctor said, with apathy depression. At home I stayed in bed for a long time and I couldn’t make myself go out. I knew you had started a new Clubhouse rehabilitation center. Could you, please, take me to the Clubhouse? Any other rehabilitation programs I have tried recently can’t be compared to the Clubhouse. I simply have to get up in the morning, push myself out of home and come to the place where I am waited for and needed and where possibly somebody will be glad to see me. I live alone. My father died in 1995 and my mother died in 2001. Other relatives are not interested in my problems, nobody would wake me up and give me any kind of help. I am shy to call you and afraid of negative reply, that’s why I use mail. I knew your address from the City Address Inquiry. If I am not disturbing you, please send me your decision in the envelope I enclose. I will fully understand and respect any decision you will make. Meanwhile, perhaps, I will get up the courage to make a call to you’.

The next day Tatiana went to the hospital to see Andrew, they talked till evening and agreed that as soon as Andrew got out of the hospital he would come to Russia House. Andrew is a man of strong will and this helped him to follow that plan. The way to the Clubhouse took him an hour and a half. He started coming regularly, sometimes, not able to overcome the apathy, staying at home, sometimes getting himself out with great effort. Two years passed. And suddenly Andrew asked to help him organize and carry out renovation works in his two-room flat. “I just can’t stay at home where long ago I tore the wallpaper and burnt a fire.’ Relatives and the governmental social services rejected to help him with renovation. The Clubhouse attracted volunteers, fixed the price with workers, bought the materials, moved the furniture and helped to do everything that was necessary.

After the renovation Andrew disappeared. When people from Russia House called him to find out what the reason was, he replied. “I feel so good, in the morning I open my eyes and can see a beautiful room. The wallpaper is blue. And my first feeling is that I’m in heaven. I feel so good that I don’t want to go out”. People in Russia House only laughed, “There were times when Andrew did not come out because everything in his life was deadly bad and now there are times when Andrew does not come out because everything is great!” A few weeks passed, and with a new view of life Andrew got into the rehabilitation program. His way out of his illness is not finished yet, and there are many things he will have to overcome. But he is on the way to his recovery. Let’s wish him good luck!

Feb 27, 2017

GG supporters covered 2-month operation costs of the rehabilitation center for the mentally ill!

Ivan, a member, and Elena are going shopping
Ivan, a member, and Elena are going shopping

We are happy to say our warmest words of gratitude to everybody who supported our first project at GG. Your generous support helped us cover 2-month costs of our Clubhouse  psychosocial rehabilitation program for adults suffering severe mental illness.

The Clubhouse rehabilitation approach is based on partnership between members (participants or psychiatric users) and staff of the program. We do together everything that is necessary for our Clubhouse community every day, sharing responsibilities and rights: plan our activities, cook free meals, go shopping to buy food-stuffs and other things that we need in our everyday operations, do all the work round the Clubhouse space, do reach out and motivate those members who are not very active and absent in the program currently, organise social and leisure events for the Clubhouse community, write letters, write articles at the Clubhouse web-site and social media, help mentally ill members return to paid employment, search for potential employers, hold English and computer literacy classes, assist members to get/contibue their education in the larger society, discuss and make decisions  about our rehabilitation program, work with mass media, make presentations, videos and other information materials that help us fight against stigma. Every activity is carried out by staff and members (participants or program users) together, side-by-side. This helps members learn a lot, gain or regain a lot of skills useful for their independent living as well as regain self-confedence and self-esteem. Solely for the reporting purposes  we call this fulfilment of various tasks by means of which Clubhouse members gain skills and knowledge "informal trainings of skills".  

Now we are happy to share with you what have been done in the reporting period - January and February, 2017.

131 informal individual or mini-group trainings of 8 skills of everyday living and simple vocational skills, namely:

  • 20 trainings of food preparation and cooking;
  • 7 group trainings of cleaning and hygiene;
  • 9 trainings of money managenment and going shopping;
  • 37 individual trainings of working with household appliance (a microwave oven, grill, blender, toaster, dishwasher, washing-machine, sewing-machine);
  • 30 trainings in planning activities during the day (week, month, year) ;
  • 16 individual  trainings of working with office appliances (a photocopier, scanner, multi-functional office set-up);
  • 4 individual trainings of skills of answering telephone calls and holding telephone conversations;
  • 8 individual trainings of courier work.

Moreover, we continued English and computer literacy classes (totally 8 classes were held). We continue search for new potential employers for those Clubhouse members who are interested in getting jobs and started cooperation with Moscow Youth Employment Center. The Center held 2 special events for the group of Clubhouse members: a training how to prepare an effective resume and a professional orientation (careerguidance) session. No less important part of the rehabilitation program is social and leisure activities and events. Mental illness strikes not only abilities to work but also abilities to rest, to have a fun, to socialize. That is why Russian House helps people suffering severe mental health problems organize their leisure and free time. In January-February we held 7 various social events.

As most of Russia House members live on their pension benefits which are about $200-250 per month, free-of-charge meals are very important for them. During the reporting period Russia House served 122 lunch meals for the Clubhouse members. In addition, every week  people  living alone  with no help of their families could take away food products.

23 people participated in the Clubhouse program very actively. 7 more studied or work. The others were not so active as mental illness dispowers people and makes them indifferent and frustrated. That is why the Clubhouse community works hard to help passive members return to active and full life and  tries to motivate them to get out and participate the rehabilitation program.

This is only a small piece of our everyday work to support Russia House members. We can see that lives of those people who come to the Clubhouse are slowly being changed for the better. What can be more impressive?  We do it together, dear GG supporters of Russia House! Thank you!

Lunch at the Clubhouse
Lunch at the Clubhouse
Mikhail and George  prepare food for lunch
Mikhail and George prepare food for lunch
A careerguiding session at Youth Employment Center
A careerguiding session at Youth Employment Center
Celebration of the Shrovetide: cook pancakes
Celebration of the Shrovetide: cook pancakes
2017 strategic planning meeting at the Clubhouse
2017 strategic planning meeting at the Clubhouse
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