The first thing that most young people do when they are let out of the orphanage, is to go out and get drunk. What lies behind this behaviour is one of the main themes for discussion at our orphanage-leavers support group.
Olga (aged 19) said, "I wanted to understand what freedom is. I spent all my money, which I was given when I left the children's home, and I bought myself a lot of food, treated my friends, went out a lot, gave expensive presents to my friends and all sorts. Then I bought a lot of different kinds of alcohol and drank it all at once with my friends. My money's finished, but I don't feel very free."
By discussing their behaviour, to their great surprise, the young people discover their natural needs to be close to others people, for love, for freedom etc. Now our group is helping our young people learn how to use their freedom in less destructive ways.
The best present we can give them this New Year, a present that will last a lifetime, is the support they need to turn over a new leaf.
P.S. Lena and Natasha, who run the club, asked me to explain that during such personal discussions it isn't really possible to take photographs. We are sure you understand their need to protect the trust they have built up.