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 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:

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!
 
   

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