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.
Dec 16, 2015

How you are helping two sisters Dasha and Katya

Dasha
Dasha

How many enthusiastic words can we say about Dasha! We never cease to be amazed by this little girl and by her ability to learn. Thank you to all of you who generously sponsor her and other toddlers with impaired hearing who learn to speak at the club.

Dasha came from a family where both parents have impaired hearing. Just a year ago, she could not say a word, although her parents hoped for better as Dasha had a cochlear implant fitted. Such implants can help replace sensation for some deaf people. In the spring after a few therapy and play sessions at Deaf Club Dasha began to pronounce her first short words. Now Dasha enjoys excellent speech. And every day she uses words more and more, learning to communicate with children and adults. She knows the name of every child in her group and happily calls her friends by name instead of pulling their arms to get their attention. Dasha also knows how to use gestures when she appeals to her mother (Dasha’s mama is deaf). Dasha realises that her mama can’t hear her.

Anya is Dasha’s best friend. As best friends they can’t wait to see each other at the Club and are inseparable when playing! They both have serious tasks to do – to "feed" dolls, comb and dress them, and put them to sleep in a crib. Why not try and lay down in the same bed as their dolls! Here's our Dasha!

If you look at another picture you can see a girl very similar to Dasha. It is Katya, Dasha's elder sister. She also wears a cochlear implant. Their mama brought Katya to the club in 2008. She was so happy about Katya’s progress with speech at special therapy sessions, where her elder daughter began to speak and communicate thanks to the help of our highly trained specialists.

Now instead of going to a special school for children with impaired hearing, Katya is a pupil in a mainstream school. She speaks with confidence and knows many poems by heart. Katya still enjoys visiting us and we can’t stop being surprised by her excellent memory and articulation and expression when she reads Pushkin’s poems. Dasha and Katya are examples of how you have helped us to create a future for deaf families from St. Petersburg.

We hate to reject new families with impaired hearing who bring their toddlers with problems like Dasha’s and Katya’s. At the moment we have only one group for deaf parents and children, but we want to expand this group in January. Our devoted colleagues have proved that if the problem is addressed early the more chance a deaf child has to enjoy a life full of sounds and communication. To make this possible our parents will make a small contribution of 800 rubles (about $11 or £8). Your donations made this December can help to double this amount and it means that we can help double the number of families with toddlers we can help next year. We will be very grateful if you can help them.

Dasha and Anya
Dasha and Anya
Katya - Dasha
Katya - Dasha's sister
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!

Dec 3, 2015

New term and new stories - newcomers needing our help

Katya
Katya

Thank you for taking this project close to your heart and donating your time, money and attention to young people from children’s homes to help them to find their feet. Your support encourages them to make great progress and achieve good results with confidence.

 This month Global Giving is giving a great opportunity to raise funds – they will provide 100% match of the first regular monthly donation set up in December as long as this donation is new and continues for 4 consecutive donations. The match is $250 on the US site and £100 on the UK site.

 Regular monthly gifts mean a lot to us, help us plan ahead and know with some certainty the funds we have – and that makes a great difference to our young people. If you can set up a regular monthly donation through Global Giving this month, we can take advantage of their matching offer this Christmas!

The new school year has brought us a new group of teenagers aged from 17 to 22, orphanage leavers from children’s homes and now students from several technical colleges in St. Petersburg. The personnel of these state colleges slowly but steadily started to recognise the progress and the difference that our project makes for our young orphanage-leavers. As a result, 5 colleges signed a contract of co-operation with the Sunflower Centre to provide individual and group counselling sessions as well as home visits and workshops for young newcomers. Not bad for the small Centre which started its work on a very modest local scale and has managed to grow into the best practice Centre which shares its expertise, knowledge and skills with other state social services on the regional level.

All newcomers are anxious about changes from orphanage to independent living. They worry about their inability to lead an independent life. One of them is Svetlana (age 19) who finished boarding school No. 7 and is now studying in college No 70, where she is learning to become a seamstress. Sveta has some learning disabilities, so our team organises regular home visits and monitoring of Sveta’s progress of becoming independent. Sveta permanently worries how she could manage on her own. She says: “I bought some tomatoes, one kilo, and paid 504 roubles. Then a girlfriend said I had been conned… It’s always like that!” She has her own flat but she is now living in a hostel at the college as there is no furniture in the flat.

Another problem of young orphanage leavers inherited from their past is inertia, inability to take decisions. Kirill (age 21) attended children’s home No. 67. He then did not study or work for one year. After some time he started to earn on a very modest scale; this encouraged him to enrol in one of the collegesas a motor mechanic. Here he encountered difficulties in his studies, mainly of an organisational nature - he is late, he cannot distinguish between the time to work and the time to play. Kirill himself describes the situation thus: “Well, I’m constantly late, sometimes I oversleep… Well, I’m used to doing nothing and now I must take classes … They said I had to choose the topic for my diploma by December, but I am still not at all ready to do the diploma.” This worries him as he must obtain his diploma by the end of the year, whereas he is still having trouble studying successfully.

Besides study all our youngsters are afraid of failing, controlling emotions and establishing relationships.   Thus, Kirill wants to discover himself and establish trusting relationships with girls. He says: “I am afraid to show girls my true nature so that they do not think that I am strong and have no feelings at all.” He has relatives living in one of the villages nearby but has no contact with them. Kirill lives in his flat in St.Petersburg.

Our main task in the beginning of the year is to identify the needs of our newcomers and of course we continue to provide help to those young people who came to the Sunflower last year. As a rule we conduct meetings to get acquainted with teenagers and we ask them to answer our questions regarding their plans after graduation. Such meetings interest our young people a great deal as for the majority of them it is very important to be heard and ask any questions that they never had the opportunity to ask in children’s homes. A friendly environment raises their confidence and builds trust inside such groups. Many young people also choose extra individual sessions where they can untangle their complicated and painful emotions towards their families and hopefully reach some resolution.

To help newcomers adapt quicker, we organise for them and for those young people who we helped last year mutual trips and workshops. We found that mixed groups help newcomers to socialise better and gain confidence more quickly. We leave you with what our teenagers say:

Katya: “Many of the youngsters I know do not want to study and just waste time. I am already finishing my training, I enjoy sewing and think up clothes to make. The ‘Sunflower’ centre supported me when I needed it. And now myself I can help these youngsters sort out their educational problems.   It’s just that they have not yet understood what it is to do the kind of work that you might enjoy.”

Katya and her sister Sasha: “My sister is now independent, she doesn’t need as much help as me. At the children’s home I had a mentor, but now I do not have one and I need someone who can give me advice.”

Serafim: “I myself can now help people, I can tell them about the ‘Sunflower’ centre. It seems to me that in this way the youngsters can more quickly confide in someone and talk about their problems. I am already almost independent, but I myself also need meetings in order to have a talk with someone and seek reassurance.”

Katya and Sasha
Katya and Sasha
Seraphim
Seraphim
 
   

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