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 2, 2014

A brilliant birthday for heaing-impaired toddler

Happy Birthday Savva!
Happy Birthday Savva!

We have just had a wonderful event at our club, Savva's birthday!  He has just turned two.  Savva came to our club with his mom when he still couldn't walk on his own.  Now he is very active.  He runs around, climbs on the slide, plays ball, and much more besides.  He has learnt how to play with other children and adults, which gives him a lot of pleasure.  Savva has learnt how to say words and uses speech with his mom, our teachers and the children.

Savva has a fantastic mom! She is very sensitive to his needs and understands him.  She helps him to learn to talk, to recognise and distinguish the sounds around him.  She also chats to the other parents and children at the club and helps them.  

We celebrated Savva's birthday altogether at the club.  We made him a present, sang songs, and put on a puppet show.  Savva and the other children watched the show avidly.  They joined in with the hero's actions.  

We are delighted to see Savva becoming a happy, sociable and communicative little boy in spite of his hearing impairment.  We are looking forward to seeing him and the other children and their parents at our club in September, but now we break for the summer holidays.  Thank you for all your help through this year.  You're giving Savva and his friends the priceless gift of self-expression.

Savva and his mom.
Savva and his mom.
Jul 2, 2014

16-year-old breadwinner saved from prison

Beso feeling well after his stitches were removed
Beso feeling well after his stitches were removed

In our last report we told you about Beso, one of our residents, who urgently needed an operation to repair his intestines.  Thanks to the generosity of the Global Giving community he has had the operation, the stitches are out and Beso is no longer in pain.  Beso is very grateful to everyone who helped him and is very happy that he can lead a normal life again.

Now I'd like to tell you about Temuri, one of our newest residents. Temuri is 16 years old from a financially unstable, large family. Unfortunately his father passed away and Temuri lives with 6 brothers and sisters and is looked after by his grandmother. They live in a 12m² basement. Temuri works as a bread baker and he is the sole breadwinner. He works from 8am to 9pm; despite the work hours he comes back home and learns school material which after a month he passes with distinction. He is learning in a village school near Tbilisi where they made an exception for him.

In May when he was coming back from work he met two acquaintances, who started to laugh at him because of his old phone. As he said: " I don't know what happened to me, I got very angry and punched both of them and took the phone from the guy who was showing of his new phone to teach him a lesson and went back home.  After a short while the police came knocking on my door and told me that if I gave the phone back I wouldn't get into trouble and so I gave the phone back.' After this the police arrested him for theft category 3.

Temuri's friends contacted us, because we knew them; he lives near our old Mkurnali house. Here our legal program came into action. We started working on this case straight away and asked the court to not arrest him. But they told us straight away that they couldn't help because the crime was very serious and it meant 5 to 9 years in prison and also there was a new order from parliament saying underage crime should be dealt with stricter because too much leniency went to their heads. Afterwards we wrote a document signed by our founder, Father George, to the judge of the court. In the document we wrote about the social instability of the boy's family and his love for hard work.

The judge recognised the authority of Father George and the court set him free with a suspended sentence for 5 years.  Thanks to your generosity helping us to buy food, this is not the end of Temuri's journey with us.  He has moved into our shelter, where he can continue working and studying while we help him overcome his problems and build a more stable life.Thank you for your part in giving Temuri a second chance.

Jun 12, 2014

Thank you for a great year supporting orphans

As we break for the summer we're looking back on an eventful year and want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to help so many young people as they make the transition from state care to independent life.

Over the last year we've held 86 group sessions for 18 young people, 55 individual counselling sessions for 15 young people and have supported 11 young people with home visits from a social worker.

Our greatest achievement this year is that our group is really motivated to change their lives rather than waiting for someone to come and do it for them.  This means that we don't depend on staff from their hostel to bring them to meetings any more because they come independently.  The group is also growing organically as our young people bring their friends along.

The group has really gelled and the young people support each other as well as talking their problems through with us.  We have three volunteers who also grew up in orphanages but are a little older and have children.  They tell us how important the meetings are for them and how much they want to help the younger ones not to feel alone in the world.  They have invited group members to their homes and welcomed them into their families in a wonderful way.

Our young people used to be reluctant to come and talk to us individually.  They didn't want the group to think they were weak.  Now, they are keen to talk.  As some of them have started living independently new problems have cropped up that they want to discuss.  They need advice on relationships with neighbours, relatives, and sometimes their parents (they are social orphans in that their parents abandoned them or they were taken into care).  When they leave the orphanage system our young people sometimes want to make contact with their parents but they also feel very understandable anger.  Without help it is very difficult for them to deal with these conflicting emotions.

Marina tells us about her difficulties:

"I suspect that my mum and brother want to take my flat off me.  They are always inviting me round and asking me about my life.  They explain that we are a family, but I don't understand what that means, a family.  I don't feel anything towards them and I don't know what a family is.  That woman, my mum, is crying all the time, but I don't believe a word she says.  I'm sure they want to take their flat.  I've decided not to see them any more."

After a lot of discussion with us, Marina is beginning to build up a relationship with her family.  She has given her mum a mobile phone and they often talk.  She has even started to care a little about them and wants to help her mother, who is disabled.

Another important development is that, thanks to the Global Giving community, we have been able to employ a social worker, who visits young people at home.  This has helped us bring new people into the group who were too nervous at first to join in.  They find it much easier to take the first step on familiar territory.  The social worker has also encouraged several of our young people to take the big step of moving into their own flat.  They help them plan how they will pay their bills and in the group we've been tackling the big fear of living alone after a life-time lived in dormitories.  Our young people worked out that they could ask a friend to come and live with them.

When we start working with young people who grew up in orphanages they usually either say that everything is fine, or that their lives are terrible although usually neither is true.  We need time to get to know them so that we can show them their own strengths and help them start to solve their own problems.  We are very grateful to you all for giving us that time.  We look forward to next year, to meeting more young people needing help, and to supporting this year's group further along their journey.

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