Misha enjoys river boat trip
Dear Friends, thank you for your support!
We would like to tell you what happened at Maria’s Children studio and outside in March, April and May 2017.
Our work is aimed to support orphans, young adults who live in state institutions, graduates from orphanages for their art and psychological rehabilitation and social adaptation. Art classes at the studio continue through a year, every day groups (one, two and some days three groups) keep coming to the studio.
There are 200 children and young adults take part in art classes. They come to us from such institutions as the following:
- A few Moscow Centers for family education (“Sputnik”, “Rainbow”, #1, “Junona”, “Trust” – these are new names for former special correctional boarding schools and orphanages for children-orphans with mental disorders), and orphanage “Sun” from Moscow region;
- Boarding school for children with musculoskeletal system disorders;
- Young adults from a few psycho neurological institutions ( 11, 16, 30) – some of them participated at Maria’s Children studio at their childhood, and we didn’t lose our connections. Most of them will spend their whole lives at these institutions (((
- Orphanage graduates (they still need support and at the same time they serve as our volunteers);
- Family children – among them those who overcome oncological diseases and need rehabilitation, and local children who live in neighborhood.
Daily art classes.
Every day groups of children (one or two, and even three) are supposed came to the studio. But in winter time unfortunately some of our orphanages keep their children closed in their institutions because of flu quarantine and there were days when children didn’t come. There are 10-15 people in the group. They come either by our minibus or by themselves. Children (and it’s even more true for young adults) are happy to leave their orphanages and institutions to spend a few hours in open friendly and creative atmosphere!
Art activities come first: painting and drawing, sculpturing from clay and pottery wheel, sewing and batik, felting and tapestry, mosaic and music, stained glass and theater improvisations, decoupage and collage, and others. Alongside with art our students have a chance to practices cooking skills and studying of foreign languages (both are in great demand and not provisioned by their orphanages and school programs).
Children are free to chose what they would like to do and how long, so they can switch a few activities. It’s both great pleasure and valuable experience to do something from the very beginning and achieve nice result, to express themselves in various techniques and materials and receive positive feedbacks. Later some of these works can be exposed at exhibition but in our case creative process and accepting attitude along with open and secure atmosphere is much more important.
Classes end with tea time or dinner cooked by students themselves under guidance of volunteers. Volunteers joined orphanage children for daily art classes and donated their time and skills, and these relations support our children and enrich their communicative and social experience.
What happened outside the studio.
“Public Recognition” Award
On the 13th of March a “Public recognition-2017” award ceremony took place in Moscow. Maria’s Children Art Center, representing the Tverskoy district of the Moscow Central administrative division, took the II prize in the nomination “Volunteers of the Year”. Maria’s Children old friend and help-mate from the USA Debbie Sears who happened in Moscow those days was awarded the laureate diploma on behalf of our volunteers.
At the ceremony Debbie said: “Maria’s Children Art Center’s mission is to help orphaned children. I’m a very old volunteer of theirs, it’s my sixteenth visit to Russia now in this role. A huge part of the Center’s work is done thanks to volunteers, there are many of us and we love our work and our children. We are sincerely grateful for such a prestigious award! Thank you so very much!”
Debbie is speech therapist in a clinic in Texas; she first met with Maria’s Children when she was in clown tour to Russia with Patch Adams. And since then Debbie comes to us many times, and this summer she again will be here at our summer camp. We love Debbie so much, we endlessly grateful to her for her deep involvement and her loving heart!
Exhibition at the Public Chamber of Russia
On the 15th of March an exhibition of photography, paintings and Applied and Decorative arts opened at the Public Chamber of Russia. All the artists are winners of the First charitable competition “Special Talents – 2017”. “Maria’s Children” presented 18 works of our students - pictures and ceramics - at the display. At the opening of the exhibition our arts teacher Natalia Pushkina and one of our students Oleg L. (he lives in the psycho neurological institution N16) met with a well-known singer Diana Gurtskaya. It’s very important for our students to receive public appreciation of their art!
Games with Agroterra
On the 18th of March we spent a wonderful day at the “Lipki” recreation center in the Moscow region together with children from the Family care assistance center “Sputnik” and members of Agroterra company. This is the way for that company to support Maria’s Children, and for us and our children it is another good day spent with good people when we share and exchange our experience and play together.
We started with getting to know each other and warming-up, after which we proceeded with performance games such as “Taxi”, “Boss” and our favourite “Clown’s Telegraph”.
After the dinner we staged performance “The Puss in Boots” in the format of “theatre from wheels” – a method which enables you to stage a whole play involving, say, sixty actors in just two hours. Our children, graduates and volunteers, and Agroterra members and their children gathered together and then split in five teams, each preparing its own play. The performance turned out to be funny and sincere.
Journey to Beslan
On 2 - 8 April a group of our volunteers went on a regular trip to Beslan and its environs (the North Ossetia). In 2004 horrible siege happened in the school there, and 333 people were killed (186 children). Maria’s Children come to Beslan every year since 2007 with art rehabilitation program, and children from Beslan come to our summer camps. After years pass (since 2007) some of them become our volunteers and even staff members.
Every year we gather internationals team of volunteers who offer workshops for children at the school. This time our Moscow team was joined by Ginevra and Italo from Italy, Guillaume from Canada, Simon from the Great Britain and Chip from the USA. On the last day the schoolchildren put on a gala-concert where they demonstrated all they had learnt during this period. To everyone’s joy we finally finished wall-painting in the school gym that we had started several years ago. This exciting process was open to all those wishing and the result appeared to be really beautiful! By the way, there are portraits of Chip and Guillaume on the wall – children don’t want to part with their favorites!
One of the days was spent in a orphanage in the mountain village Dur-Dur. There we played clowns’ games and football with the kids and also did wall-painting. We also paid a traditional visit to the orphanage “Khoory Tyn” in the city of Vladikavkaz, where children and personnel always remember us and wait for us impatiently to play games and just to have fun.
We are 20!
On 15 of April, Saturday, we celebrated 20th Anniversary of Maria’s Children Art Center on the “Bryusov Ship”.
Children and young adults from all the orphanages we support, orphanage graduates, volunteers, former and present staff members, donors, partners gathered together at this homey party. Some of our graduates came with their children. And even our former students came from psycho neurological institutions who have no possibilities to take part in our regular art classes but still keep good remembrances of the studio and its people.
The event was opened by the Family Care Assistance Center “Sputnik” wind band directed by Igor Naumovich Greengouse, with whom we have been friends almost all these 20 years.
The children brought their “presents” – dances, songs, pictures. There was also an exhibition of collective pictures of different years, all-prize charitable lottery, a performance by illusionist, our dear clown Guillaume tamed his unicycle, we enjoyed a chocolate fountain and a huge cake! Thanks to everyone, it was so wonderful and heart-warming!
On 20-25 April we made our regular trip to England where we took part in the annual Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon for the 8th time. This year our graduates presented “The Knights’ Dance”, based on a musical fragment from the ballet “Romeo and Juliet” by the famous Russian composer Sergey Prokofiev.
The dance was staged by Lesha Golubkin, our graduate, but other participants also offered their suggestions during rehearsals – for example, a fabulous somersault by Lesha Zh. in the drop-scene. The team started rehearsing in Moscow but the final version of the dance took its shape in England. To everyone’s pleasure, in Stratford we were joined by our dear Doctor-clown Patch Adams from the USA and a puppet master Leo Kondakov from St.Petersburg.
The Saturday morning started with a traditional Shakespeare’s Birthday Parade. This year the event was not attended by so many people as the previous time, but for us it happened to be the most interactive of all: our students communicated with the public with great enthusiasm and even involved it into dancing!
On that day we performed twice – the guys and the girls danced, then Patch came out again citing Shakespeare’s sonnets while Leo Kondakov was making an improvised puppet show. Every time we gathered a crowd around us. The children were excited with Leo’s puppets, some people recognized Patch and approached to talk with him. Our students were also welcomed very warmly.
We had very intensive and interesting program for our students (Warrick castle where they danced again, Butterfly Farm, the Mechanical Art and Design Museum, Shakespeare’s mother’s farm where we danced once more, King Edward VI School and short journey to Oxford) and in London we met our dear friends Olga Makharinsky and Simon Joseph.
Annual river trip “The Boat of Our Hopes”
Every year at the end of May we are gathering all together, all children, volunteers, staff members, and travel to the Bay of Joy, more than 200 people. We celebrate the end of academic year and beginning of summer. While on board of the boat children enjoy picturesque landscapes along riversides, pictured it on paper, had snacks, made photos, sang songs, played table games. Our graduates and volunteers came to the shore beforehand by bus so that to prepare for children different games and activities – rope walking and a hammock, frisbee, badminton and volleyball, painting, make up, and enjoyed communicating with friends. There was a great picnic with a lot of meat, vegetables and other food. On the way back we watched performances prepared just on place, sang songs and danced. Then there was a moment when everybody deep into their own intimate and strong desires, wrote it on notes and attached it to balloons. Culmination was on the arrival of the boat to Moscow when we leased hundreds balloons with our desires into blue skies.
Plein air at Kuskovo
One needs to say that it was rather cold spring here, and May was not rich with warm days. So on one of the warm days we decided to use this rare chance and arrange a plein air at Kuskovo (kind of villa of 18th century) for young people from psycho neurological institution #11. Our guys were inspired by beatiful old park and architecture and pictured it!
Thank you from all of us at “Maria’s Children”!
Thank you for your help to lonely children across the oceans and continents!
Love and compassion, and art will overcome all barriers!
Sergey and Sasha are decorating frame with mosaic
Debbie, our volunteer from US (on the right)
Volunteers in Beslan - Chip and Guillaume
Maria's Children Birthday - Maria
Celebration of Shakespeare's birthday
Tanya and Galya - River boat trip
Plein air at Kuskovo
Plein air at Kuskov0