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.