St Gregory's Foundation

St Gregory's Foundation works in Russia and the former Soviet Union 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.
Jul 20, 2016

Summer camps for Russian orphans almost here

new sink for our bath-house
new sink for our bath-house

The summer camp season is almost here and we have been busy preparing for our families who will join us for a life-changing stay.  We don't have an internet connection at our base deep in the Russian countryside so this will be our last report until we come back from our adventures.  We can't wait to tell you about how we get on, and about all the new things our parents and children will have learnt.

In our last report we told you all about how our volunteers had struggled through the March snow to deliver new doors and windows to our banya, or Russian bath-house.  Since then we have made great progress towards having decent washing facilities, and at some point, access to a washing maching (very useful when we have so many toddlers and young children with us).  The photos may not look like it, but there isn't a huge amount of work left to do,

All the plumbing is in place, the sinks and showers are fitted.  We've thoroughly insulated the building, fitted the heating system and have even started on the decorating.

Renovating the banya will make a huge difference to us, since the old one was in a dangerous state of disrepair, and we are very grateful to all our donors who have helped make it possible.  For those of you who have never experienced a Russian banya, it is a steam room in this case accompanied by showers.  After a banya you feel wonderfully relaxed and invigorated, as well as cleaner than you have ever felt in your life.  Wonderful as it is, this traditional form of bath-house is also the most practical way of providing washing facilities to groups.

We wish you a wonderful summer and will be in touch when we get back to St Petersburg with all the news from our summer camp.

We
We've started the decorating!
New, safe stove for our bath-house
New, safe stove for our bath-house
Jun 28, 2016

Thanks for help building a bath-house for orphans

Transporting the windows for our bath-house
Transporting the windows for our bath-house

Thank you again for contributing so generously to our project to build a bath-house for the Russian orphans that come with their children to our simple, rural centre for a summer camp each year.  The photos may not look like it, but we are well on the way to having the facilities ready, meaning that, for the first time, we will be able to provide convenient, decent washing facilities, and, at some point, access to a washing maching (very useful when we have so many toddlers and young children with us).

Building work has been carrying on since the spring, whenever we and our volunteers can get away from St Petersburg.  I say spring, but our first session in late March was hampered by deep snow and temperatures of minus 15 degrees C (5 degrees F).  We had hoped to fit new windows and doors, but this wasn't possible in such cold weather.  Just delivering the windows and doors was a heroic effort, dragging them from the main road on sledges because the delivery lorry couldn’t get through the metre of snow lying on their lane.  

Since then work has progressed considerably.  All the plumbing is in place, the sinks and showers are fitted.  We've thoroughly insulated the building, fitted the heating system and have even started on the decorating.

So, we still hope to be ready for our summer camp season this year.  If you keep in touch with how our summer camps go, or to contribute to them, please visit our page: www.globalgiving.org/projects/orphanage-parenting-russia/.  Through this page, we'll let everyone know how our parents and children get on this year.  

New sinks for our bath-house
New sinks for our bath-house
We
We've started the decorating
A safe, new stove for our bath-house
A safe, new stove for our bath-house

Links:

Jun 12, 2016

The Russian orphans you support meet psychologists

Kiril being given an EEG
Kiril being given an EEG

Almost all the young people in our support group for orphans have spent time in a psychiatric hospital and they usually blame the psychologists working in their orphanage for sending them there.  Kiril said, "If the psychologists had talked to me before jumping to conclusions, I would never have ended up in a psychiatric hospital".  Feeling let down by those who should have been there to help them, the young people find it hard to trust not just psychologists, but also other people who they could turn to for help.

We wanted to change their attitude towards psychologists and give them the chance to talk about their previous bad experiences, so we took them on a visit to St Petersburg University's psychology department.  The group was introduced to some research psychologists who are working on a project researching orphans' use of language.  They gave us a tour, explained their project and we had a chance to chat informally over tea and cakes.

It wasn't easy to persuade the group to come, and it was mostly the old hands who took part.  Interestingly, the boys were much easier to persuade than the girls.  We think this is because they find it harder to form relationships and so are keen to get as much help as they can.  In the orphanage, the girls are more often given jobs to do by the staff, perhaps looking after some younger children, so they have more experience of relating positively to adults and their peers.

Those that did come were very enthusiastic about the experience.  They took advantage of the chance to discuss their negative experiences of psychology, and were also impressed by the openness with which they were treated.  They were able to try out aspects of the research experiment, including having their brain activity monitored with an EEG.  They discovered that the process was quite safe, and encouraged each other to sign up to take part in the project.  Taras said, "I'll definitely come and take part in the research! It's great that we were able to talk, ask advice and find such sincere support.  Today I found answers to several of my questions."  Our group also hope that the findings of the research will help improve conditions for today's orphans.  Seraphim said, "The meeting was interesting and informative.  I hope that thanks to the research other orphans will be able to avoid having the stigma of being sent to a correctional school."

The visit was a very positive step for our group and has opened up new sources of support for our young people.  We are very grateful to you for making it possible.  If you would like to contribute to our activities again, then June 15th is a good day to make a donation because Global Giving will be adding 50% to donations to our project.   This bonus day starts at 9am EDT and runs until midnight.  Please note that if you give through the UK Global Giving site, the UK bonus day starts at 2pm BST and runs until 5pm the following day.  We recommend that you make your donation early because when matching funds are gone, they're gone.

Thank you again for all you are doing to help our young people get their lives on track.

 

 

 

A chance to chat
A chance to chat
 

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