Thanks to you, we have been able to send funds for the Russian orphans project to get underway. We got off to a slow start, because building works over-ran at the youth centre where the project meets – by two months. This is a common in Russia, but frustrating nonetheless. Because of this, we will have a couple of extra outings for the group in January and February.
In September, our colleagues met with the 4 teenagers who took part in the summer camp this year to follow up on their experiences. Zhenya’s comment about it was typical: “I noticed that when I come across people I don’t know, I turn away and don’t talk to them or I walk away. People might think that I am wild. I want to learn to listen to other people and not to be afraid of them, so that they don’t think that of me”.
In October and November, unfortunately, there was no-where to hold meetings. The team spent the time trying to establish good relations with staff at St Petersburg’s orphanage no. 23. They also kept in touch with the teenagers by telephone.
Activities started properly this month. The theme was “Myself and others in the world”, which allowed the young people to talk about themselves, get to know the rest of the group, and talk about how they relate to others. This culminated in an outing to an exhibition called “Snow Fairy Tale”, which was put on by various groups of young people who talked about themselves, their values and their subculture. In an informal setting our teenagers were able to meet them and ask questions.
Olga said afterwards: “before I was scared of people who dressed strangely, I thought they would hurt me and I wouldn’t be able to protect myself.” Sergei came to the conclusion “that they are also shy and scared of other people. That’s why they stick together. I understand them.”
One member of the group has already started college, but she finds it frightening. She can see that she has trouble getting on with her classmates, and she struggles because of the poor standard of her education. She doesn’t want to turn to the orphanage for help because she doesn’t want them to think she is a failure. This shows just why people need support during the big changes of life.