Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow

by The Andrey Rylkov Foundation
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Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow
Harm Reduction for 3500 people in Moscow

We have developed our "children's project" for more than 2 years. The purpose of this project is to make it possible for our drug using clients to have warm, friendly interactions with their children. Parents who use drugs often face various difficulties. It can be lack of money to provide for their children everything they need, they often feel exhausted, have health problems and are usually biased. We help the parents to cope with these difficulties and built close relationships with their children so they could feel like they are "good moms and dads." We regularly organize various activities for children and their families, where children can have fun, learn something new, get some presents and, most importantly,  communicate with their parents in a relaxed, warm atmosphere.

August is the time to get children ready for school. Parents have to purchase uniforms, school bags, notebooks, pens, rulers, study books, painting kits and a bunch of other important things. For the majority of Russian parents it is a huge part of the family budget. For our clients the prices for all those things could be unbearable and sometimes getting their children for school turns into a little family Apocalypse. That’s why it is important for us to make it a pleasant activity for both children and their parents: instead causing stress it should be an opportunity for mutual activities and a joyful friendly family communication. That's what our project is about - we not only simply buy and distribute pencils and notebooks, but we also build opportunities together with our clients to make such warm and friendly moments happen. That's why this year we decided to help the parents once more.

We would like to thank everyone who helped us collect the money for their selfless work; and now we want to tell how we managed to collect the necessary amount and what we did with it. So we had to collect 35 thousand rubles in no more than 3 weeks till the 1st of September. We got requests for help from 9 families out of 30 families participating in our project. We managed to collected 36100 rubles as a result of crowd funding through social networks and Global Giving platform. Donations were received from more than 40 people. Seeing that so many different people united to collect the money and help the children was very motivating for us. As always, during the fundraising we provided transparent reports on the collected money and openly informed about all incoming funds.

As a result, we bought a lot of useful things for the kids: several school uniforms, backpacks, cold weather boots and shoes to wear at school or indoors, hats, gloves, jeans, socks, blankets, pillows, sheets, notebooks, pens, pencils, painting kits, t-shirts for physical education and even a desk lamp. It took us some time to buy all these things and we finished the process only by the middle of October. 

Here are a few stories from our social workers who accompanied the parents and the kids at the shops, photographed the whole process and paid for the purchases.

Ezhi, ARF social worker:

I went to the store with Tania and her son Vanya to get a backpack. We didn't find anything good at the first two shops so we had to walk around a little bit until we found the backpack that everyone liked. I really enjoyed the trip: Tanya and Vanya are very close and we all chatted the whole way to the mall and happily walked there, although Vanya was shy at first. Eventually we bought a very adult-looking backpack in O'stin, and then we sat at the cafeteria a little bit. Vanya told me about his school and a football class, while Tanya made funny comments to his story, they communicated like old friends and I felt very comfortable with them chatting like that. They walked me to the station after that and sent me a very touching message later that evening: "Thanks again, Vanya is very happy! It was a great trip! Everyone liked the backpack. Vanya told his Dad that you look pretty)))!" In short, it was great and they made my day.

Lema, a social worker and psychologist at ARF:

"A few days ago a received a call from Vasya who was asking whether we have a spare jacket for Andrey (his son)". Today we went to the shop and bought a jacket for Andrey (prior to this, he was wearing his father's old jacket). We also bought a hat, a pair of jeans (as I understood, Andrey had only one pair of trousers for school and a pair of sweatpants), gloves and socks. Andrey and Vasya thanked me so many times that it made me a bit uncomfortable. Seems like they really needed our help. Once again we had a nice heartfelt conversation. It's nice to see that, despite all the difficulties and the fact that it is not always easy to communicate with his son, Vasya really cares about Andrey and in my opinion they have a really great relationship. It delights my heart to see that! We went to the shop with Vitya, Vasya's friend. I was amazed that such caring men still exist - he helped to choose the jeans and gave some useful advice. After we walked out of the shop, he said: "The world is small but there are people with hearts of gold!"

"Yesterday I went to Auchan with Vika's family. There were 4 of us: I, Vika, Kolya (it was just going to be his first year at school) and Lilya, she's 4 or 5 years old. At first I did not like all of that commotion because we usually ask in advance to choose the things so we could just come and pay, while trying the clothes and choosing the right ones takes sooo long. But all of this was not in vain, of course - it would be very difficult for Vika to try the clothes and look after the kids at the same time. As a result, the four of us had a great trip but we also got very tired. We bought boots for a cold season, a red t-shirt for PE class, a desk lamp and a couple of desktop book stands. Kolya said that he also needed watersport goggles, can we buy them if we have some money left? The coolest thing was to look how they all interacted with each other. In the beginning, when we were in a bus to the mall, they were discussing at their Mom's suggestion what an amazing adventure it would be that day. And all three hours that we spent together, we were chatting, having fun and making photos. Kolya saw that I was taking photos and asked me to try that too, and he took some great shots! Kolya was very glad. He carefully chose the desk lamp and carried it around the whole day after that. It was a great trip".

Masha, ARF social worker:

Our client Tosya has a daughter Julia who needed a haircut for the first day of school. Albina Popovkina, a hairstylist, agreed to cut Julia's hair at her parlor. At first Julia worried that she would get a "wrong haircut". So the girl was very tense while she was sitting in the chair. But she got comfortable in a few minutes and explained what kind of haircut she would want, after a while she felt almost like at home and told us that she liked to draw and prefers paint to pencils. "It was fun to take photos of her and the stylist, before the haircut and after, and to show the photos after it". It was fun to see how Julia sneakingly tries to touch her hair and take a photo of it "for her friend". It was a wonderful experience for the girl to sit in a chair at a hair dressing saloon like an adult, in front of the mirrors, where you could talk about drawing and they even offered you a cup of coffee or tea. Albina, the hair stylist, is a simply wonderful person, - on the way back she talked with Julia about her drawing, she said that everyone would notice Julia's new haircut at school the next day and her mom would like it too..'

Thanks to these stories and many others, now we know for sure: a lot of good people interact and participate in our "Children's project" - all of them help each other and that makes our hearts grow tender!

We know that pleasant and inspiring memories about this phase of the children's project will remain with us and with all of those involved in the project, with everyone who donated money, things or their time and helped us. Positive experience and warm memories will help us implement other planned activities of this project. We're going to organize common leisure activities throughout the school year — trips to the theaters, museums, Planetarium and other interesting and educational places. We plan to set various art workshops for schoolchildren at our office.

And of course, the New Year's Eve is ahead, so we're going to make a small celebration and to give presents from Father Frost [Russian Santa Claus] and the Snow Maiden!

Thanks to everyone who participated in this project: children, parents, donors, social workers and volunteers. We are pleased to see that there are so many people who care!

How much we spent:

  • Valentina's family (2 daughters of school age): flats, shoes, headband, belt, pants, skirt, dress-3693 rub.
  • Larisa and her daughter Masha: shirt, pants and underwear-3082 rub.
  • Vasya and his son Andrey: indoor shoes, sweats, sneakers, warm jacket, jeans, hat, gloves, socks (had to go to the shop twice)-7350 rub.
  • Alexander has 3 kids, 2 of them go to school - they got 2 backpacks and the stationery - 3070 rub
  • Eugene and his son Misha: a backpack and boots-2559 rub.
  • Vika with 3 kids: Shoes for the autumn for Kolya, t-shirt for PE class, desktop book stand, desk lamp + linen and sleepers for all the kids - 7472 rub
  • Tosya and her daughter Julia: pencils and gel pens 1707. rub + Julia got a haircut for free
  • Tania from Maryino and her son Vanya - 2499 rub

Total: 36100 

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Dear friends and supporters!

We are happy to share with you a BBC story on the work of Andrey Rylkov Foundation with drug users in Moscow. Its good to have a short film about our work - you can see our new minivan in work! And also some of our health outreach to the streets of Moscow. The BBC story also reveals some worrying news, that ARF was among 5 other HIV service organizations that were included in the Foreign Agents Registry just since the beginning of 2016. That means that we will not be able even to hope for the government support of our health work and more than ever we need your support! The good news is that on August 30th we have already won one court trial against the Ministry of Justice who wanted to fine us for not volunteering to the registry! That was an unprecedented court victory not only for the AIDS service but for all the Russian NGOs who fight with the oppressive and unfair Foreign agents law for several years. We are very happy to having won this court as this small but unexpected victory has  inspired other NGOs to fight for their rights and for the rights of the people they serve! Please enjoy the short BBC story about our work and spread the word among your friends - as we need your support even more than ever!   

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Mango-feminist Ezhi is feeding her family!
Mango-feminist Ezhi is feeding her family!

Dear friends!

We are happy to share our joy of having a new tiny office - after we worked for seven years without one, we were finally able to rent one thanks to the money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria!

Recently we had a small housewarming party and invited all our friends. We want to invite you too, and share our excitement about the new office that would allow us to offer some comfortable place for our staff and participants. For the past seven years, we had to be very inventive regarding finding places to carry out our seminars, trainings, team meetings, meetings with specialists, parties and so on We gathered in cafes, in apartments, in "shooting galleries," in the parks, in spaces provided by friendly organizations (special superthanks to the Sakharov Center in Moscow!) and where not!

This very short video perfectly captures how happy we are to have a little space for ourselves.

Importantly, the office will alow to develop new initiatives. For example just recently, several of our team members have formed a feminist group Mango. It focuses on women's needs and works with the families of drug users. Thanks to the  support of several Moscow theaters, museums, cultural centers we are able to organize cultural events for and with the families of people who use drugs. There are also common informal meetings, outdoor events, celebrations! Recently, one of our staff members a Mango-feminist Elena, started to provide English lessons to the kids of drug users - having our own office proved really helpful!

If you want to support our work with drug users, their families and kids, a perfect opportunity is right now! On Wednesday, June 15 beginning at 9:00:01 am EDT (Washington, DC time, =16.00 Moscow time), GlobalGiving.org will be holding the annual Bonus Day and will match all the donations made through GlobalGiving.org up to $1,000 per donor with 40% of their own funding! It would be great if you could support us today and enhance your donation!

Thank you very much for your continuing support and interest to our work!

with many warm wishes, ARF team.

Positive moments: exibition of drug users photos
Positive moments: exibition of drug users photos
Max and Stambul
Max and Stambul
our lawyer Anya is happy in the new office!
our lawyer Anya is happy in the new office!

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Michel Kazatchkine visits the night outreach
Michel Kazatchkine visits the night outreach

Dear friends!!

We are happy to share with you some great news about a recent significant improvement in our work! Many of you remember that for several years we were trying to crowdfund a minivan that would help us improve our street work. We weren’t able to fundraise the whole needed sum, but your support helped us to maintain our services when we didn’t have money from any other sources to buy needles and syringes, condoms and rapid tests. But last year, together with other brave NGOs from Russia we have received a new grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which is not huge, but it has allowed us to buy a new minivan! Today we are happy to share the photos of this minivan and report that it has moved our work to a new level – enabled us to stay longer hours, serve more people, bring more materials and provide better counseling. We are one very happy team!

Since 2009 Andrey Rylkov Foundation (ARF) works with drug users, and is determined to bring health and legal services to where they are – to the streets. ARF is the only organization in Moscow that provides clean needles and syringes, counseling on health and legal issues, family support to families of people who use drugs and warmth from heart to heart, trying to make our city and society healthier, happier, more just and humane.  ARF is a community-led organization and community activists, who suggest new ideas, develop and implement new projects and make sure that the drug users in Moscow and in Russia can benefit from our harm reduction work and from our human rights activism, direct our work.

On the photos, you can also see our dear friend and a person we all admire and respect so much! – Michel Kazatchkine -  the United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia who visited our minivan last week during his official visit to Russia, and who has been able to meet with our outreach workers and with our dear participants – people who use drugs in Moscow. We hope that this meeting has been mutually very inspiring!

 Just to give you some feeling on how the minivan has improved our work, we share some feedback from our team members:

Katia (our doctor): The first time we used our new van to do outreach was on the 5th of January this year, it was in Marjino [one of the Moscow districts where we carry out our work]. The van is bright, clean and comfortable inside – there is a place to see project participants, a table on which we could put all our medical stuff and – what is very important during the winter – it is warm inside! During the outreach, I had to examine one of the participants with septic wounds and it was very cold outside so we were really happy to be able to do the examination inside the car. Last Friday was the first time when I used the car to do the bandaging. There was a shy girl who had an open post-injection abscess on her shoulder. At the beginning, she just asked for ointment and bandages but I suggested examining the abscess. She refused because it was too cold outside. She was really surprised when we offered her to do the examination in the warm minivan. She couldn’t believe this and asked for a few times – is that for free? “It is the first time in my life when I was examined and provided primary care for free” she told while sitting in a car. I washed and bandaged the wound, gave her ointment and more bandages to take away and explained how to use it.

 Masha (an outreach worker): the minivan really makes our work easier; especially when it is winter and really cold outside. Fingers are freezing when you are trying to write anything down but now we can do it inside the warm van. And also now we can bring much more prevention materials with us and if the participant would like to receive legal or medical consultation, to be tested or to discuss any problem with social worker – now we have the opportunity to do that in a van where it is much more comfortable.

Happy @the minivan
Happy @the minivan
Asya
Asya
Giving out health packs
Giving out health packs
Outreach at night
Outreach at night
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This is the second year the Andrey Rylkov Foundation organized a New Year celebration for the children of the participants of our project on HIV prevention among people who inject drugs, “Harm reduction – Moscow.” It is important for us not only to give them a gift just for the sake of appearances but to try to give them something which they probably really need: a New Year miracle, belief in good and sincere smile. This is why we raise funds for gifts, dress up like Father Frost and Snow Maiden and visit children in different parts of Moscow.

But nothing would happen without the help of “good Samaritans” – those people who support these our activities financially including through the Global Giving platform. Once again numerous friends provided us with money to buy presents, helped us get New Year costumes, took part in organization of all these activities or just supported us on a Facebook. We offer special thanks to our photographers, Alexander and Katya.  Thanks to them we now have those great photos documenting this our activity.

But how was it? What are the lesons did we learn this year? What are the impressions? As always, we decided to ask these questions those our colleagues who organized and personally participated in these activities:

Max: It is the second year I‘ve played the role of Father Frost and sometimes, in a moment of self-obsession, I feel like the key person in this whole initiative. But this is not true, and I understand this when I think about how much  preparatory work was done to organize all this. During our social street work, we asked about children who might be interested in such a New Year celebration. We made lists of contacts, communicated with parents, gathered money through the internet, argued with each other when deciding which presents we should buy and were involved in many other important related activities. All this was done by ARF staff and volunteers! And I was just a Father Frost.

But I have to say that this year, many questions rose for me after this our initiative. Last year, we visited only three families but this year there were many more. So the question is - how will me meet all of the need next time? How will we select what presents we buy and for what reasons and purposes? What is the overall goal of this our initiative? Is it just to give a present from Father Frost or to give the children something more than that? Is it just a New Year celebration or does our initiative also serve the purpose of co-dependency prevention among these children? Chocolate – is it good or bad as a present for children? These are only some of those things I was thinking about when organizing the event.

And, concerning feelings, I feld many different ones, including warmth, satisfaction, tiredness, tendernessand regret. And now I feel not only with my heart but also with my head that we should expand this kind of our activities. Happy New Year! And, I am eagerly awaiting the next New Year celebration!

Asya: I started notice that the older I am the less magical the New Year is. But there is a possibility to return these almost forgotten holiday feelings – you just need to take part in congratulations of those who are still waiting for a New Year miracle.

This time those children who we visited last year were not afraid of the Father Frost and Snow Maiden, but were excited to meet them again, as old friends. Some of them were happy to play and to dance with us and of course they all wanted to make a photo with us. This year we used funding raised through social networks, Global Giving and also other crowd funding platforms where the coordinator of our children’s project, Lema, put an advertisement. And although we were not sure how it would work, our concerns were groundless and we managed to get twice the amount we expected. Thank you to all those who supported us! Also, this year we had a Christmas crèche in our program prepared and performed by Kaya. She managed to make it regardless the skepticism of all other members of our team about this new activity.

Lema: It is great that each year we congratulate more and more children! This time there were 15 of them, not counting the elder ones. And they all really enjoyed the event and were happy to see Father Frost. This year I had the role of the Father Frost’s manager.  I communicated with parents, calling them in advance of the event to confirm that we are coming. Because of that I had a chance to watch from outside how the celebrations are going on. Is was really warm because of the children’s smiles and New Year songs and poetry and when you see how happy they are to get presents and how excited the parents are. I believe this year all those who were involved in the organization of this activity started to think more about the project. Now we have many questions to answer and ideas for to implement next year. And what made my day was the feeling that we grew up, made progress and moved towards working with community in terms of their empowerment. Thanks to all who participated in this project! This was a good job!

Kaya: I really enjoyed how we congratulated children this year. I participated only one day but from the experience of previous years, when I also participated in these kind of New Year events I would like to say that everything was great! Father Frost was very flamboyant and cute. Children had the opportunity to express themselves and everyone had a feeling of a celebration. Communication was very warm, alive and joyful. It is great that ARF managed to organize such a New Year for children whose parents are addicts once again. And thanks to all who contributed! I believe there is a huge demand for such kind of activities targeted on children drug dependent families and we could fill this niche.

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Organization Information

The Andrey Rylkov Foundation

Location: Moscow, Europe - Russia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AndreyRylkov
Project Leader:
anya sarang
Moscow, Europe Russia
$57,376 raised of $60,000 goal
 
1,149 donations
$2,624 to go
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