St Gregory's Foundation

St Gregory's Foundation works in Russia and Georgia 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.
Nov 29, 2016

November news from Georgia

Nino, Inga, the lawyer and a resident of Mkurnali
Nino, Inga, the lawyer and a resident of Mkurnali

Thanks to your support to Mkurnali we are able to provide food, shelter and education to our residents. Today we would like to tell you about the latest developments with our legal programme and what we do to help our young people who have got in trouble with the police.  

In October and November we were able to help resolve 6 legal cases. Two charges were for ‘resistance to police’, which is punished by a 2000 Georgian Lari fine or time in jail. Both cases ended with an absolute discharge. 1 case was ‘hooliganism’, which  receives a sentence of up to three years of jail. We negotiated with the plaintiff and the case was closed without any charges. 2 cases were for theft: 1 case was of part involvement in a theft which can result in 4-7 years in prison. We have reached a plea bargain with the prosecution and the convict has been sentenced with one year in a penal institution and 1 year suspended sentence without any fine. The second theft case was partial involvement in a theft which is sentenced by 1-3 years of jail. The case is under investigation, during which time the suspect is on personal bail outside prison. We are monitoring him and hope he will eventually become involved in Mkurnali programs for rehabilitation.

Mkurnali’s other main focus of activity is on the growth and popularisation of its enamel jewellery production to give work and income to the residents. Lately we took part in many exhibitions. It important to note that the US Embassy organised a folk craft exhibition, where our works successfully competed with our enamel teacher company “Gallery Ornament”. We sold more works than any other participants in the fair. The shop located inside the embassy has offered us a corner for our enamel work. 

In October we had a visitor – a director of St. Gregory Foundation - Dr. Tamara Dragadze. On behalf of the Foundation she placed an order of 20 pieces of work which we had already created. Also with the help of the Foundation she bought us an Ultrasound machine for polishing the silver so that the Mkurnali residents should no longer cut their fingers using a wire brush. The International Women’s Association here in Tbilisi has given us a little help and on December 3 we plan to take part in the Christmas fair organised by them.

We were happy that these two months seemed peaceful and productive, but sadly a horrible accident happened – our resident Beso Mnatobishvili was lost. Global Giving had helped us pay for his operation some time ago and he was in excellent health ever since. Beso had found his much older brother who had been raised separately from him. On October 4, he brought him to our shelter in order to show him old furniture that we planned to give him as gift. (The EU’s Georgian office gave us new furniture recently).

Afterwards, Beso accompanied his brother and did not return.  We looked for him but not even his brother knew anything about his whereabouts. Sadly, after 22 days the Mtkvari River, which runs through the city, washed his body ashore. What happened? We still don’t know. The police are investigating the case as murder, having excluded suicide. We plan to investigate this case to the bottom and find out the truth. In the meantime his Mkurnali family will be arranging the best funeral we can and find some way always to remember him.

Please consider making a donation - Global Giving is offering a 50% match on donations made on #GivingTuesday, November 29th up to the first $1 million raised on GlobalGiving.org. They have $500,000 in matching funds made available courtesy of generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This is the largest amount of matching funds GlobalGiving has ever had in one day and a wonderful chance to make your donation even larger.

 

 

 

Nov 28, 2016

How the Russian orphans helped at an animal shelter

Our young people who have grown up in orphanages are used to one-sided relationships in which they get attention from sponsors, the state and volunteers. By contrast, we have offered them volunteering experience. We explained how animal shelters work and sparked their interest in voluntary work with homeless animals.

This needed some advanced preparation: the teenagers had to think about what to take with them to the animal sanctuary, bearing in mind not all food is safe for animals to eat. Some of the teenagers were apprehensive and some were frightened by the experience: “I can’t look at them, I’ll cry. It’s too sad,” said Olga. Similar worries helped other teenagers realise the purpose of the visit, namely our participation, interest and care towards homeless animals.

At the shelter they didn’t just interact with the animals: they became actively helpful to the staff there. All the participants in the group, supported by the staff, helped to tidy up the cattery.

The part that engaged our young people the most was walking the dogs. In turn they could take a few dogs out for a walk and a few of them quickly became the children’s favourites. Tanya was very excited: “It’s my dog! I want to take him home with me!”. This was a very positive and unifying moment for everyone from the group. They laughed a lot, shared their emotions and hugged the dogs.

It was an entirely safe experience for our teenagers, filled on all sides with honest warmth and happiness. Even those who were afraid of the dogs took part and stroked the animals, talked to them and stayed near them.

The happiness of being with the animals turned to sadness when they had to leave. We let the teenagers know that the shelter is open to the public and that they could come here independently – and it would be great if they could make a habit out of it. At the end of the day Tania  “I am so relaxed. I wish it was always like this! I’m really happy, this is my dream! If it wasn’t for this I don’t know what I would have been doing today.”

Sunflower Centre have organised this trip thanks to your support to the programme for young people who grew up in the St Petersburg orphanages.Thanks to your help our young people are learning how to be responsible ' forever, for what you have tamed'.

Please consider making a donation tomorrow  -  GlobalGiving is offering a 50% match on donations made on #GivingTuesday, November 29th up to the first $1 million raised on GlobalGiving.org. They have $500,000 in matching funds made available courtesy of generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.This is the largest amount of matching funds GlobalGiving has ever had in one day and a wonderful chance to make your donation even larger.

Oct 25, 2016

Together we saved innocent lad from prison

Beso (on the left) with his friend
Beso (on the left) with his friend

Being young and homeless in Tblisi carries many risks.  One of them is getting in trouble with the police.  This is why we run a special legal service for homeless youngsters to make sure they are properly represented.

Some of you may remember Beso, who we have been helping for some time.  Back in 2014 Global Giving donors helped fund an emergency operation for him, since when he has been back in work and doing well.

This year, Beso and his friend were going home late from a birthday party. He was in a very good mood and he was singing. The boys got thirsty so they started searching for a sink in the Tbilisi yards (old yards usually has sinks in them in Tbilisi). The police who were patrolling that night saw the two boys moving from yard to yard so they thought they were trying to steal something from these yards. The policemen caught Beso and his friend for attempted theft, which means 4-7 years of prison, also rebellious activity (up to 3 years) and resisting the police (3-5 years).

We got into this case just in time. After our lawyer spoke to the investigator he agreed that the boys haven’t stolen anything and that the only thing they did wrong was minor rebellious activity (i.e. making a noise in a public place at night – in this case singing) and so the law-enforcers had to drop the theft case, the rebellious activity and resisting the police. This comes under the administrative code (which is a fine of 500-2000GEL), rather than being a criminal offence. In the court,after our lawyer’s speech the judge didn’t fine the boys and only gave them a warning.

The whole point of this story is that if our lawyer hadn’t got into this case in time, the boys would have been in prison for a minimum of 4 years.

During the last 3 months our legal service has looked after 15 cases.  Thanks to us 6 cases were terminated, 5 finished with non-custodial sentences, 2 finished with custodial sentences, and two are still in process.  In many cases, providing a legal defense is our first contact with a young person.  We are very grateful to all our Global Giving donors for helping us keep our shelter going, so that where needed we can offer food, a home and training to those who have nowhere else to go after their release.  

Your donation will help keep our young people safe.  If you are a UK-based donor, this week your donation could go even further.  Globalgiving.co.uk is offering to match donations up to £50 from 2pm  on Tuesday 25th October  to 2pm on Tuesday 1st November, or while funds last.  Please make your donation early in the bonus week if you'd like to see 50% added to your donation.  Prizes are also available to projects that attract the most donors, so whether you are able to give this time or not, please tell your friends!  Thank you!

 
   

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