Give Russian Orphan Children Parents and Mentors

by Kidsave International
Give Russian Orphan Children Parents and Mentors
Give Russian Orphan Children Parents and Mentors
Give Russian Orphan Children Parents and Mentors
Give Russian Orphan Children Parents and Mentors
Inessa, chopping dill for soup
Inessa, chopping dill for soup

Lola and her mother Galina wanted to help a young person who – through no fault of her own – was growing up without parents. This proactive mother-daughter team took and passed three courses in mentoring offered by Childhood Keepers in Moscow and prepared to meet a young woman they could befriend and offer the support and guidance she’d missed.

Armed with this new knowledge, they came to the Crisis Center on June 12 to a Childhood Keepers event and met Inessa. One of their first events was in the kitchen – making soup and dessert and enjoying the meal together afterwards. "I am very glad that I have a mentor,” said Inessa. “I hope we will have a strong friendship. I can feel her support."

Another new mentor-mentee relationship has moved into the fast lane quickly and with great mutual admiration. Nastya lives in an orphanage in the Moscow region, and thanks to Anastasia, her mentor, she is preparing for big things. Nastya is studying to enter the University of Management. She has also been working as a courier for about a month – a job Anastasia helped her get.

“I liked Nastya immediately” said Anastasia, about their first meeting at a Childhood Keepers event. “She is sweet and modest. I am helping her become more self-confident and study English. Nastya is very responsible, and fulfills all tasks asked of her. We are proud of our friendship.” At work Nastya is a part of the team that relies on her -- and the expectations are high. She must be responsible and punctual, able to communicate with a variety of people, know her way around the city, and must always look neat. “With all this, Nastya does an excellent job,” said. Anastasia.

“Anastasia supports me, “said Nastya, “and helps me by sharing advice. She tells me how to dress better and communicate with colleagues. We like the same movies, and I'm glad I can discuss my favorite comedies with my mentor.”

Her team at work it very supportive of her preparations for the university, and have given Nastya a place at work to study and prepare for exams in her free time. Her work colleagues have also made it possible for Nastya to take a series of classes with an English tutor to learn a highly marketable skill.

Thanks to a wonderful mentor and to Childhood Keepers which brings people together, Nastya’s future is bright.

Nastya (left) and Anastasia (center)
Nastya (left) and Anastasia (center)

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Proudly laid the groundwork for Childhood Keepers!
Proudly laid the groundwork for Childhood Keepers!

We have exciting news!

We are ceasing the American-guided Kidsave Russia operations but leaving in its place Childhood Keepers, an all-Russian non-governmental organization with the same mission to move orphaned children into families and connected to caring adult mentors. Although the political situation of foreign organizations operating in Russia has recently become difficult, Kidsave Russia has been fortunate to work there for the past 19 years, served 4,240 children, and trained 1,247 professionals during those years.

Childhood Keepers is applying for GlobalGiving status, so that you can continue to support this work for those orphans who "age out" of institutional care without a caring adult in their life. They often fall prey to exploitation, crime and despair, but Childhood Keepers will continue the work of combatting this by matching them ahead of time with volunteer adults who mentor them, and give them financial and life-skills training. Childhood Keepers will continue to find and foster these relationships with the hope they will grow into lifelong mentors/friends or adoptive parents.

If you wish to continue to support other Kidsave programs through GlobalGiving, check out Kidsave’s programs in Sierra Leone and Colombia and the US.

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Lena, her son, and Vika enjoy the holidays
Lena, her son, and Vika enjoy the holidays

Imagine all the things you might not know if you didn’t have parents to teach or show you.  Holiday traditions, basic things about cooking, what a birthday party is all about!

 Vika, an orphan living at the Crisis Center in Moscow, has been catching up on these things thanks to Kidsave mentor, Lena. We have reported on their initial meeting in a previous report, but this is an update on a relationship that has really blossomed and shows the unmatched value of mentoring.

 Vika is in college and learning to be a seamstress and has a young son. But she finds time to spend with her mentor Lena because the relationship is so valued.  Kidsave pairs older orphans with experienced adults who help them navigate their world responsibly, and Lena has helped Vika in countless ways.  Here are a few recent examples…

 September 5 was Vika's birthday and Lena made it a wonderful new experience for Vika.  Lena invited Vika to her home and arranged a warm family celebration for her. The tradition of receiving gifts and lots of attention on one’s birthday were brand new experiences for Vika and, for the first time, she realized that one can celebrate a birthday without alcohol. They enjoyed tea and cake instead.  

 Since then, Lena has invited Vika to her home again, and introduced her to her own family --her husband and two sons, showing her what “normal” home life with a family looks like.  During one visit, Lena gave Vika a lesson in soup-making.  Lena tells Vika about family traditions and how she can create her own new family traditions and help provide a home-centered “anchor” for her young son, 3-year-old Cyril.

 On New Year Eve, Lena and Vika decided to visit Red Square with Lena’s son to wander through the beautifully decorated center of Moscow. Vika has learned a lot from Lena, including more sophisticated skills, such as how to plan her vacation, where one can go with the child, and how to lead a healthy lifestyle. For Vika, Lena has opened up a whole new world!

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Katya holds kids' dance competition in the park
Katya holds kids' dance competition in the park

Before Katya met her mentor Nastya, she wasn’t sure what to do with her life. She had little awareness of the options, and no one to help her explore them or help her consider her talents and interests. Katya is an older orphan in Moscow, growing up without a family.  But Natsya became a Kidsave “Weekend Miracles” mentor – and the two of them agreed to see each other at least twice a month. 

Kidsave’s Weekend Miracles program holds regular events that put kids without families together with caring adults who offer mentorship, friendship and advice. With that new relationship comes a new sense of stability, guidance and attention for these young people as they make decisions about school and careers.  

In September, they both took part in a charity festival called, "Soulful Moscow", where Katya, who is also a talented dancer, volunteered to lead an entertaining dance program for young children visiting the park.

The two spend time together having fun roller-skating and riding gyro-pacesetters, but also talking about life, careers, goals and next steps.  With Nastya’s help, Katya took a summer internship at the Tisso printing house and earned a certificate. Now she has entered the cadet school where she is learning to drive ships!  Katya is creative, engaging and full of ideas. Nastya’s genuine interest and concern for Katya have given her the confidence to try new things, express herself more fully and have real hope for a good future.

Katya shows her certificate from Tisso Printing
Katya shows her certificate from Tisso Printing

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Anna, Nastya and her daughter Miroslava
Anna, Nastya and her daughter Miroslava

"I love spending time with Anna,” said Nastya, an 18-year-old Russian teen mother. “She tells me her stories of personal success, she gives advice. I love listening to her."  

Anna is Nastya’s mentor, a successful businesswoman who was invited to a Kidsave event by another Kidsave mentor. Anna and Nastya met in November of 2016 after Nastya had moved to the Malenkaya Mama Crisis Center in with her 5-month old daughter Miroslava, leaving a troubled family situation.  The Malenkaya Mama Crisis Center is the home of Kidsave’s mentoring program for teen mothers who need the help, guidance and steady friendship of a loving, mature mentor.

Over the next four months Anna and Nastya became friends, going for walks, visiting museums, seeing movies, exhibitions and skating. Anna listened to Nastya, and shared details about her own struggles and triumphs and how she has dealt with them. Anna shared the kind of advice Nastya would get from a loving supportive home life -- if she had one.

Kidsave finds mentors to help girls like Nastya learn how to take charge of their lives, raise their children, find and keep a job, and function successfully. Nastya is on the road to self-reliance, learning to break the cycle of despair that can engulf young women who have to go it alone.

This important work  came to the attention of local media last month, when Moscow Channel 24 came to the Malenkaya Mama Crisis Center to report on the girls and their mentors. The girls told the correspondent about Kidsave’s Malenkaya Mama program, and how it had helped them find caring adults who support their progress. A week later Kidsave mentor Elena invited the film crew to her home to continue the conversation while making soup. It was a “family affair, as the teen mothers talked about their friendship, and their mentors’ support. Elena’s sons Sergei and Paul warmly welcomed Vika, another young monther from the Malenkaya Mama Crisis Center, and they all had fun celebrating Vika’s19th birthday.

Vika (left), Elena and her husband and son Pavel
Vika (left), Elena and her husband and son Pavel

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Organization Information

Kidsave International

Location: Culver City, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Kidsave_Intl
Project Leader:
Anna Kochineva
Washington, DC United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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