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.
Mar 16, 2016

You helped innocent Maia escape prison

Hard at work in our enamel workshop
Hard at work in our enamel workshop

Our young people look after each other.  It was thanks to them that we got involved in their friend, Maia's case.  Maia was raised in a wealthy family, her father was a professor and her mother was a lecturer, they were raising her only child in luxury. When she was 7 years old, her parents were in a horrible car crash and they both died. As soon as they passed away a lot of relatives appeared that Maia didn’t even know about. The relatives took everything from her house, and some other relatives moved to the three-room apartment they had (In Tbilisi’s most prestigious district), as if they were going to take care of Maia. She was being abused verbally and physically for a year and when she couldn’t take it anymore she ran away from home and never went back. Suddenly she was living on the streets.

At the age of 16 she fell in love with a boy and they started living together in a rented house. For years they were living peacefully, both of them were working, the boy was working in a workshop, at least Maia thought that he was. One day police came to their house and discovered a lot of stolen items.  Since the boy was not in the house and was in hiding the police caught Maia instead and blamed her for stealing these items.

We investigated and found evidence to prove that the boy was guilty.  We found witnesses and, with the help of street children, we also found the boy. We succeeded in making the boy confess and come to the police. (We also helped him and he was sentenced to prison with agreeable terms.)

Maia was released from prison; we got her apartment back from the hands of her abusive relatives. Maia returned to her own apartment and she is expecting a baby. She is happy and she is looking at the future with hopeful eyes.  This is one more positive result from our programme of legal support for homeless and vulnerable young people that you are helping to fund.

This is not the only good news this month.  We have also reopened our enamel jewelry workshop with the help of another organisation called MAC.  This means that we can give more jobs and training to young people living at our place and to young people who used to live at a shelter for street children that has recently closed.  We have also given a home to some of those from the closed shelter who had nowhere else to go.

We are also helping our wider community.  On the request of the International Women’s Association our boys are delivering food to six elderly people living alone.

Thank you very much for all you do to help our young people to flourish.  If you'd like to help more young people like Maia, then today is a particularly good day to make a donation because it is a GlobalGiving bonus day.  This means that a bonus will be added to all donations made today, 16th March, up until midnight (EDT).

Mar 16, 2016

Bonus day gives us a chance to help more orphans

Nastya with her god-daughter
Nastya with her god-daughter

All the young people we help are survivors.  Some of them are truly remarkable.  Today we'd like to tell the story of one such young lady, Nastya, who we have been able to help overcome terrible insomnia and nightmares caused by her difficult experiences.  Today we also have a great opportunity to help more young orphans like Nastya - it's Global Giving bonus day! That means that today a bonus will be added to all donations made up until midnight (EDT).

Nastya is 20 years old.  She managed to resolve all her problems when she left the children's home except one, her terrible insomnia and nightmares.  She came to us for regular counselling sessions and fortunately, we were able to help.  We found a link between her troubles sleeping and the recent loss of several people who were close to her.  

Nastya was born in a young offenders' institution when her mother was just 16 years old.  None of her relatives took Nastya in, so she was sent to a children's home.  Her grandmother and aunt were addicted to alcohol and drugs and her father didn't know she existed.  For a few years, Nastya's uncle's family cared for her in the home, where his sister worked, and took her home for weekends and holidays.  But one day they suffered a house fire and Nastya didn't see them again.  The little girl was devastated at the loss and was comforted by the care workers at the home.  When she was a teenager, on the advice of staff at the children's home, Nastya got back in touch with her grandmother, who told her about her family and showed her photographs of her relatives.  She started to visit her regularly, and even ran away from summer camp, since "the camp was boring and babushka needed me to help her.  She was ill and couldn't walk.  I used to go to the shops for her.  Then the police caught me and sent me back to the camp."

This contact with her family was a great support to Nastya and helped her through difficult times.  She began to notice that her class mates had more difficulties at school at in their relationships than her.  For example, "when they told us that we couldn't study in 9th class in an ordinary school with normal kids who live with their families, but that we were being transferred to a remedial class, only me and my friend objected.  We understood that then we would never get our school leaving certificate, and it is very important to me because none of my family ever got that."  Nastya finished 9th class in an ordinary school and went onto college.  When she made new friends, she always tried to get to know their families and to help them as much as she could.

Over a short period of time, a number of people who were close to Nastya died: her grandmother, her friend, her boyfriend and her dad, who, after many years had found out about Nastya and was trying to sort out the documents to make her formally part of his family. 

Losing these people, Nastya was very scared that she would lose the chance to spend time with their families who were so dear to her.  "Sometimes I just want to go and sit with them, to talk and to drink tea together."  During one of our sessions, Nastya said that she was happy to call the mother of her friend who died and arrange to meet with her.  She recognised that her friend's mother would need support, because she knew what it was like to lose someone close.

"You helped me to sort out my feelings, to value the people who have been close to me in my life.  Before I was overcome with fear that I would lose anyone who was close to me, and so I was afraid to make new friends.  At last, I was able to see that I have learnt a lot from those who were close to me, I have learnt how to help people."

It's important for Nastya to have close, trusting relationships, to feel that she isn't just able to help people, but also that she can accept help herself.  She understands how important it was for her to have reliable, supportive adults around her, so she is a keen participant in our group project, and inspires the other young people to make changes in their lives.

At the moment, Nastya is studying Physical Education, Sport and Health at university.  She says, "I don't find it easy to study.  I'm having to re-sit my exams, although I go to class regularly.  It's really important to me that someone like you talks to me from time to time, so that I can sort out my difficulties.  I really want to work as a sports teacher in school and it's very important to me to know that someone believes in me and my abilities."

Thank you for believing in our young people too.  By donating, you make sure that we can support them when they have no-one else to talk to.  You are helping Nastya reach her potential as a hard-working, caring young woman who, we are sure will go on to help many others.  Thank you!

Mar 10, 2016

Liza's mum says Summer Camp gave her strength

Liza and her mom
Liza and her mom

"For two years I have been taking my daughter, Liza, to the Sunflower centre and in the summer we spend a week at camp with other families.  This gives me the strength to carry on and gives me hope that my and my daughter's lives will work out".

All of our families come to us with difficult stories, so it it wonderful when we are able to light a path for them through to brighter times.  If Liza's grandmother had had the help her mother's found with us, a whole world of suffering could have been prevented.  We're just glad that, thanks to you, we can be here for the family now and have been able to break the cycle of misery.  

The story starts back when Liza's mother was a child, growing up in a communal flat with her mom.  Once when she was alone at home, a neighbour started molesting her in the shared kitchen.  With difficulty she managed to get away from him, locked herself into their room and waited for her mom to come home.  Her mother was, of course, horrified and tried to protect her daughter.  She spoke to the neighbour, whose wife became very aggressive.  She spoke to the police, but nothing was done.  The sexual harrassment continued, the threats became worse.  After one last scandal, the neighbours wife called the psychiatric services and got the mother taken away to hospital.  Her daughter was sent to an orphanage.  When she got out of hospital, several times she contacted her daughter and said they would be together soon, but the psychological pressure continued, and soon she couldn't cope any more.  Her daughter spent the rest of her childhood in a children's home believing that she was responsible for her mother's death.

When she grew up Liza's mother went to art school where she got involved in drugs.  She takes up her story:

"At the time it was eaiser for me not to think about my life, and so with my lifestyle I was gradually killing myself.  Goodness knows what would have happened if I hadn't got pregnant. I married the father, but then I ran away because he beat me.  Liza wasn't yet a year old when, by a miracle, I discovered "Sunflower".  It was all down to Liza.  I needed help with my daughter, but I didn't know what to do.  For a long time I wouldn't accept help, but I went regularly to their sessions, if only so that I could be with my daughter.  Somehow, they knew how to manage things so that Liza started looking at me and smiling at me.  I ended up, like my mother, in a psychiatric hospital, but Sunflower did the impossible.  They were with me every step of the way and saved my daughter for me.  I believe that you can change the outlook for your family if some one believes in you and supports you like that.  By some miracle my family rallied round me and Liza.  My aunt looked after Liza while I was in hospital and Liza took her to Sunflower.  

Everything's fine now.  Liza goes to kindergarten and, like every little girl, imagines that she's a princess.  I got a job in a jewellery studio and paint minatures, which I sell on the internet.  And we still visit Sunflower!"

We are so proud of Liza's mum for overcoming all her difficulties.  She needs us much less now than she did but we have more new families, who are just starting off on their journey.  This summer's camp will be vital for them.  

If you would like to donate so that they can have a week bonding with their child and learning from other families, you might like to know that Wednesday 16th March is a Global Giving bonus day, which means that a little extra will be added to you gift made on that day.  This project page supports the running costs for the summer camp (which the parents and local sources also contribute to).  We also aim to build a banya, or a traditional bath-house so that we have somewhere safe for everyone to wash during camp and have set up a special micro-project page on Global Giving for that.  Thank you so much for all your support.

Links:

 
   

donate now:

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $10
    give
  • $25
    give
  • $48
    give
  • $89
    give
  • $10
    each month
    give
  • $25
    each month
    give
  • $48
    each month
    give
  • $89
    each month
    give
  • $
    give
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.