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.
Sep 4, 2015

Gocha's story and our summer news

Gocha
Gocha's present

Thank you to everyone who has helped Mkurnali this year.  Thanks to you, Mkurnali is able to house and feed about 21 young people and four children who would otherwise be homeless.  Through Global Giving we aim to cover as much as possible of our food bill so that we can feed our residents and other local homeless youngsters.

Today we will share our latest news and we'd also like to tell you about an opportunity to have 30% added to your donation. Global Giving is holding a final Bonus Day, the last bonus day of the year, starting at 9:00:01 EDT on Wednesday, September 16th and will be adding a fantastic 30% to your donations made via https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/homeless-teenagers-tbilisi/. Matching will last until funds run out or until 23:59:59 EDT.We recommend you make your donation as soon as possible if you would like to see it matched.

And now back to our news, which Nino Chubabria, Mkurnali’s Director has shared with us:

“Summer has brought more news to our friendly community of Mkurnali.  Giorgi’s brother (you remember Giorgi and his famous motorcycle) Gocha came to stay in Mkurnali. He is 18 but looks like a 7-8 year old child as his health has seriously deteriorated – his case requires the special attention of doctors: with several medical tests to be done, including prescribing a special diet. Unfortunately the family who looked after him couldn’t afford to cover the medical costs, but thanks to our friend Eka, who paid for tests, it will be possible to apply for Gocha’s disability pension benefits. And even more help came too - Eka’s friends who had learned about Gocha’s problems, hopes and dreams from Eka’s Internet page, made Gocha’s wish come true and gave him a laptop – the latest version of the Apple Macbook. They preferred to give this fantastic gift anonymously and remain incognito (this is a very Christian approach, we feel). I hardly can describe Gocha’s joy and the emotions he felt!

Summer has also kept us busy with daily tasks – we now cultivate a little vegetable garden ; we have bought a few chickens and ducks and have some fresh free range eggs: we now have 13 chickens and 2 ducks and the children are taking care of them with great joy.

Some of the boys started working out in the gym and when they come back they train the little ones. Check their first lesson here:

https://goo.gl/photos/ybuwqirGHp1s1CVx5

We were lucky to raise some funds locally and managed to buy the necessary equipment for training.

If you remember, one of our girls, Nato, has got married into a good family. Her husband is a craftsman, a hardworking and reliable person. His family took Nato in very lovingly. We pay visits regularly and we are very happy we are able to help - Nato is expecting a baby and “Mkurnali” gave her a beautiful baby’s crib. Also, as is the tradition in Georgia, especially in rural areas (Nato got married in a county near Tbilisi) we gave her a dowry of various domestic items and hope to help her to buy bedroom furniture so that Nato doesn’t feel different, because Mkurnali is her family”.

Thank you so much for being with us on this journey and giving an opportunity for our young people in Tbilisi to step into adult life with confidence!

Our garden
Our garden
Sep 4, 2015

How to help Seraphim to be truly independent

Thank you to everyone who has helped the Sunflower Centre this year to support young people who have grown up in orphanages and tend to lack self-confidence. They find it difficult to integrate into mainstream society and to take responsibility for solving their problems. Sunflower helps them to address these problems, and this knowledge can be a real breakthrough moment for young people.

Thanks to your donation via Global Giving we aim to cover as much as possible professional counselling meetings, training and workshops, which help to establish friendships, and give the teenagers some mentors in the outside world who they can call on when they have to build their own independent life.

Today we will share our latest news and we'd also like to tell you about an opportunity to have 30% added to your donation. Global Giving is holding a final Bonus Day, the last bonus day of the year, starting at 9:00:01 EDT on Wednesday, September 16th and will be adding a fantastic 30% to your donations made via https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/russian-orphans/ . Matching will last until funds run out or until 23:59:59 EDT. We recommend you make your donation as soon as possible if you would like to see it matched.

And now back to our news, which Elena Sukhorukova, Sunflower Project Leader has shared with us:

“Usually in the summer holidays at the beginning of June all the orphanage residents are sent to summer camps.  The administration and institution’s staff are determined not to take any risks and to take all residents to spend their summer together without any alternative for young people, who often would like to get a job during the holidays. Our young people have a real difficulty in negotiating other possibilities for the summer with the institution staff and also have to find somewhere to live because the "children's home" would be closed through the summer. It is difficult to break these strong ties with the system which prefers to keep young people in orphanages rather than support them in their motivation to build an independent life.

This summer 6 of our teenagers spent their summer in the camp – some of them chose to use all state benefits, some young people were helped by their foster families - let’s hear what they said after they have returned from their holiday:

Taras “ I think that I myself can deal with my financial problems, no one should buy shorts or flip flops for me – I can do it myself. But where do I take the money? I try to earn where I can after graduation. Sometimes my foster mother gives me money when I am doing hard physical work in the countryside”.

Aliona “What can I buy with my scholarship money, except maybe some food on the plane? I have never flown before and might never have this chance again or won’t be able to earn money for a holiday. Why not take what we are eligible for?”

Sunflower also works with young people like Seraphim – who works and lives independently in his flat, but for whom the institutional system keeps a place in the hostel and full state support if young people decide to take the opportunity to continue vocational training within the institute. For many young people who don’t have experience of being independent or the benefit of family advice it is a real challenge to resist the strong ties of the system – Seraphim choose to work over the summer period instead of going to summer camp, but at the end he was very tired and decided to leave his job and return to the institution. “I will save a lot of money as I’ll be staying at the hostel and don’t need to pay rent or food, yet I will receive a scholarship and save it. I want to take advantage of my benefits” says Seraphim.

Seraphim is a representative of the group who find it difficult to continue their independent living. He is a law-abiding young person, who follows the rules of the institution and builds relationships with teachers easily – and is one of our young people who have been trying to leave the system for a long time. Sunflower’s task is to support them in job searches, to bring them motivation and emotional support as well as the knowledge and skills necessary for independent living and helping them avoid pitfalls.

Amongst the other young people from the project, three young girls have succeeded to get good and stable results – all three passed their exams and two of the girls have found jobs as counsellors and moved in to their new flats. Another girl, Kate, who just moved from the institution’s hostel to her new flat, finds it exciting to furnish it to her individual taste “ not like everywhere, but like I want it”.

All our young people have just returned to their studies and we are looking forward to continuing our work for their success! “

Thank you so much for being with us on this journey and giving an opportunity for our young people from orphanages in St. Petersburg to take their first steps into adult life with confidence.

Jul 8, 2015

Thank you for making it happen!

Lena and Tima, Anya and Kirill
Lena and Tima, Anya and Kirill

We've achieved our target. Our project “Summer camp for orphanage-leavers with children" is fully funded! We are deeply grateful to our supporters for making it happen!

Thanks to your generous donations the Sunflower Centre will be taking ten families with fifteen children between them away for a week of intensive parenting support in the idyllic setting of a log cabin deep in the countryside. Over the years up to 35 families with 60 children have benefited from this projects. 

This project is a part of the programme “My child's world", run by the Sunflower Centre. The Centre is unusual in not giving hand-outs to orphanage-leavers. Instead they encourage them to take control of their lives, improve their relationships and solve their own problems.

Families who regularly attend activities of the programme are invited to a family camp-site, which is 360 km from the city - Novgorod region, Hvoyninsky District, a sparsely populated village called Dolbeniki. Natural conditions - nearby forest, the lake and the river have a huge positive and holistic impact on the emotional, psychological and physical condition of children and parents. The new environment-  a wooden house with a Russian stove, a dormitory with bunk beds, a dining room and a sauna, a large gardening area - helps to engage each member of the camp community and acknowledge their personal contribution to the day-by-day vital activity of the camp.

Your donations will support individual and group work with families like Lena's and Anya's, which is aimed at the emotional and psychological rehabilitation of the family, teaching essential parenting and life skills. One of the forms of such rehabilitation is engaging parents and children in art therapy sessions, in creative workshops, games and walks in the local neighbourhood.

Trust, care and a warm friendly atmosphere in the camp will help our young parents to thrive and grow and to value family bonds. Their children learn to play, develop and communicate without restrictions through a series of cultural, sport and outdoor events. Both parents and children discover the joy and understanding of a family and our specialists (teachers, psychologists) and volunteers accompany and help young families to get through difficulties and learn parenting skills.  

As a result their children’s health improves, their vocabulary expands, and they are more likely to start kindergarten. Most importantly, the cycle of neglect and deprivation is broken.

We know that many people are concerned for children in Russian orphanages, but we need to raise awareness that this is a largely preventable problem.  We've reached the target to raise funds for this year, but we'll increase the goal of the project again to start raising funds for next year.

We are very grateful to any of our supporters who can help spread the word via friends, family and their networks. You can find the latest news from our Russian partners on our website or following us on Facebook.

There is a special opportunity for donations made to our work through Global Giving on July 15th - the largest Bonus Day of the year - when they will provide matching funds of 50% of the value of your donation. 50% more for us and you won't need to pay a penny more!

Thank you again for being with us on this journey to success,

With gratitude,

Julia Ashmore

Camp Centre
Camp Centre
 
   

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