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.
Feb 24, 2016

Photography for Russian orphans opens their eyes

Our photography lesson
Our photography lesson

Recently, we took our young people who all grew up in Russian orphanages to a photographer's studio to meet a photographer and have a mini-lecture about some of the basics of photography.

We took them on this particular outing because our young people find it difficult to look at photos of themselves or to take photos of events in their life and we wanted to raise their confidence.  They often carry a camera with them or take photos on their mobile phone, but usually they don't like the result.  They don't like the way they look, they don't know what to do with their hands, whether to smile or be serious.  As children in the orphanage, their only experience of photography was formal, posed group shots.  They weren't able to take snaps of their lives or be photographed spontaneously.  Even now they usually get shy in front of the camera.  This is why they usually refuse to be photographed and complain that they can't share any of their own pictures with their friends.

So we sought out a good photography teacher who could explain some of the basic principles of photography to them.  During the session we looked at a number of pictures and asked questions about them.  They were so interested that they didn't feel they had had time to ask all their questions, so we are going to organise another outing with a master-class for them.

Thank you very much for making this outing possible.  Teenagers taking photos for Facebook might seem like a really trivial subject, but it turns out that it exposes many of our young people's deep anxieties.  It's so useful to us to be able to take them out to meet new people and to gain confidence and without your donations we wouldn't be able to.  Our aim is that when they look at themselves in future they will see someone of value, someone they are proud to be.

Dec 22, 2015

Help us make a happy holiday in Georgia!

Thank you very much to everyone who supported us in 2015. Thanks to your regular gifts we can plan with some certainty how to organise the feeding of our residents. This year we helped our 21 permanent residents and also didn’t forget about street children who turn to us in search of food which provides a little stability in their lives.

Our house lives on a pretty much hand to mouth basis with donations which we receive from supporters like you and local in-kind donations from individuals and a few organisations. If you would like to make a donation, this would be a great time to do so. Anything you can give us is hugely appreciated.

The challenge we faced this year remains the same as in previous years – we are the only organisation in Tbilisi which takes care of vulnerable homeless teenagers and young adults over 16 years old. Once they turn 16, they are on their own if they have previously been in a shelter or orphanage. There are no state programmes which specifically help these youngsters.

Despite the lack of state support, we do our best to give our young people a secure feeling of home and also look for any opportunity for them to receive vocational and domestic skills training so that they can look forward to a stable future as adults.

One of those training courses is sponsored by the McLain Association for Children (MAC) which continues to provide the basic education for our children and teenagers who need to catch up with general subjects. This organisation also helped us establish an enamel workshop for our teenagers. Once they learn this craft they will be able to earn money for themselves.

With the help of the local TBC bank we are able to pay costs towards the most essential needs of our small children, while our local supporter Tea Dzokhadze gives us 100 GEL/month ($42 or £28). The local Doctor Madona Ukleba and the Mgaloblishvili Clinic look after the health of our children.

This is a magical time of the year and we are also preparing for our New Year celebrations. This year we have received a wonderful gift from the local branch of EBRD – three Christmas trees! Our toddlers Georgy, Vano, Nastya and Mary will take part at a New Year party at their kindergarten – they have already learned their New Year poems by heart.

We are looking forward to cooking Georgia’s famous dish “satzivi” (chicken in walnut sauce) – we have saved plenty of walnuts which we gathered this autumn.  Our friend and the head baker in one of Tbilisi’s restaurants “Oqros Kstkha” Nino Mikeladze will bake us a holiday cake. We will provide a holiday dinner for as many as we can afford to feed. 

We would be very grateful if you can help us to feed as many street children as we can during this festive season. It is wonderful to see their eyes lit up and to realise how excited these children can be at this very special time of year!

Georgy
Georgy
Nino and Mkurnali children
Nino and Mkurnali children
New Year! Looking forward
New Year! Looking forward
donations from local supporters - thank you!
donations from local supporters - thank you!
Dec 10, 2015

Tania's wish for New Year

Tania and baby Sophia
Tania and baby Sophia

Although summer seems like so far away our parents, who grew up in orphanages and their children who visited last summer camp still speak about their time spent in the village. They share memories at group sessions and proudly speak about what they achieved as parents since summer. One of the most popular topics within this group is their new parenting skills that they learned and successes of their children. Our parents became confident and open and because of their own achievements they often recommend other orphanage-leavers to join Sunflower programme, which we are able to continue thanks to your generous donations.

One of the new mothers Tania who brings up baby Sophia on her own joined our group sessions quite recently. She is still adjusting to the new environment and establishing contacts with our team but she shared with us what brought her to the Centre:

“My friend invited me to ‘Podsolnukh’ and she said: ‘Go out there and don’t be afraid. You can tell them the truth’. I didn’t believe, but I came. Then I thought all the time that I should give my baby to the orphanage. Actually, I began to notice that my daughter was growing up and I didn’t know what to do with her, but the orphanage staff knows better what to do. I had a lot of problems. Children doctor threatened to make my daughter and me hospitalized because my baby didn’t gain weight, but I left my home that they couldn’t find me. And the staff of ‘Podsolnukh’ noticed that I just didn’t know how to feed her and they taught me. Now my girl is gaining weight and I don’t need to escape. Once I couldn’t come to class and I was waiting for next week to come here again. I thought I was going to be crazy while I was waiting for – so I got used to them!”

Tania is among those who are at risk of failure and bringing the own children back to orphanages if they don’t get help of specialists in time. Our summer camp programme and its follow –up sessions during the year will help Tania to become a real mama for her daughter.

“Often a young mother, who herself grew up in the orphanage does not see anything abnormal in bringing her child back to the orphanage, - says Elena Sukhorukov, director of the center "Sunflower". She says something like this – I grew up, and my baby will grow up, I went to school, got an apartment and nothing bad happened. It turns out that it is important to just show her - what a family is and why your child should grow up in the hands of parents in a warm and happy surrounding in their own home. What a child needs is the feeling of home like a castle, like a fortress, your dream place and the harbor. The warmest and most important place in life".

"It is impossible to get such a feeling and such home education at all in an orphanage – continues Elena Sukhorukov. - Therefore, for those who grew up in such surroundings - boys or girls who bring up their children now, it should be someone who can help them to cope. And then they are themselves begin to understand - it is better to learn to cook and feed your baby, and not to go to a social center for a dry ration, it is better to learn how to work and earn, instead of constantly asking for a material assistance. Is it better to build your family.

Tania is looking forward very much to joining our next summer camp in 2016. This is one of her wishes for the New Year. She is one of our 47 parents and baby Sophia is one of 42 children who benefit immensely from special programme which we continue thanks to your generous donation. We now raising funds to continue our work for parents - can you help us to raise £ 1200 towards the costs of the next camp?

Happy Christmas and New Year from all our orphanage-leavers – they are very grateful for all your help in 2015!

 
   

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