Support Hospices in Moscow

by VERA Hospice Charity Fund
Support Hospices in Moscow

At the hospices supported by the "Vera" Foundation, coordinators and volunteers often hold workshops and art therapy for the wards. For many, this helps them to express their emotions and brings back fond memories. But there are also patients at the hospice who are unable to move their arms because of illness. One of the volunteers thought long and hard about how to involve everyone in the game. She focused on questions and topics that are important to hospice patients. The volunteer invented and drew a special board game in which people share stories and it doesn't matter what their physical skills are.

The point of the game is that participants answer questions and progress through the playing field. But it's not just a quiz: The questions are not about some encyclopedic knowledge, but about... life. About how well we know ourselves, how we treat ourselves, what experience we have accumulated over the years. "If they made a movie about you, who would write the music for it?", "Name three major achievements in your life," "What is the most important thing your mother taught you?", "What would you tell yourself 18 years old if you could go back in time?", "What do you dislike most about yourself?", "What has always helped you overcome difficulties?", "In what matters are you an expert?"

The volunteer was worried that the questions would turn out to be quite personal and that she would have to be very trusting of the people around her to answer them frankly. But one Thursday in October the residents of Butovo Hospice played this game for the first time, and they loved it. The game unfolded into a large and important dialogue between the participants. It seemed to be important for many to reflect on their different qualities and characteristics, what they like in themselves and what they don't. When the game was over, the participants asked to come to them again.


Recently another hospice became a recording studio for a few evenings. Svetlana, mother of 5-year-old daughter Arina, lives in the hospice. They can't be together at the moment. But our volunteers made sure that mom's voice would be there: they brought a mountain of children's books, professional recording equipment, a microphone and offered Svetlana to become an actress for one day to read children's fairy tales for her daughter. Her mother's native voice, reading by roles of a cat in boots and a little red riding hood, will now sound for Arina before going to sleep. And it will stay in the recording forever, and maybe one day it will comfort Arina when she becomes an adult and Svetlana is no longer around.


So day after day in hospices we see how much one person can do for another. But this is only possible when the person is anesthetized, provided with medical equipment, surrounded by care and receiving proper professional care. In many hospices around the country, everything is as it should be - thanks to your support. But our dream is to make sure that every terminally ill person in Russia can receive professional and compassionate care at the end of life in any city or village, at home or in a hospice. The main thing is with dignity and without pain.

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Dear friends! 

This is Marina from the Vera Foundation. I write newsletters, answer your letters, and write reports.  Over the last half year it has been more and more difficult for us to find the words. It seems to be hard for everyone - my charges, my colleagues and donors. 

During these terrible six months we have understood: money is not the main thing. The main thing is the people. Doctors, nurses, hospice coordinators. Now it is very important for us to keep them, to keep their salaries, to make sure that they have desire and strength to continue their work. 

Thanks to the constant and tangible help from the donors, everything is moving forward - we take new hospices under our care, doctors come to terminally ill people's homes, and parents can come and visit children in the intensive care unit. But even despite the tremendous support, this year has not been easy for us. Some of the companies that helped us are no longer working in Russia. Everything we buy for hospices and families has become more expensive and takes longer to arrive. So far we have not been able to get donations from the GlobalGiving, but we know one day it will be possible.

Below is the story of Dima, the coordinator of one of Moscow's hospices. We asked him to tell us about his work.

"People I know often ask me what I do in general. What does a hospice coordinator do?

That's a tough question. I don't think anyone has been able to tell you about the work of a coordinator in two words, and people are waiting for a specific and short answer. 

What does a system administrator do? He organizes the computer network and makes sure everything works. What does a teacher do? A teacher teaches kids at school. What does a doctor do? A doctor heals people. A letter carrier carries the mail, a driver drives machinery, a courier delivers goods and parcels, and what does a coordinator - an employee of the Foundation - do? 

I tried to answer this question in both short and long sentences, but in the end I came up with a rather abstract but still satisfying answer: The coordinator comes to the hospice to be there for the dying. The coordinator is a challenge to loneliness, a challenge to fear, and a challenge to the white ceiling, which often has no cracks in it, so all that's in front of it is a flat, lifeless surface." 

Hospice is often called home for a reason - not just the staff, but the patients as well. Dima and the other coordinators work to make the atmosphere of the hospice far from the hospital cold, the smell of medications and the feeling of detachment from life. Dima and other hospice coordinators are paid by the "Vera" fund, and this is possible thanks to our donors. Thank you!

Our fund has spent for this program 267 753,40$ from January to June 2022 including:

  • medical equipment and its service 20 512,64$
  • meals 4 242,90$
  • coordinators´ salaries 192 044,54$
  • hospice stuff financial support 13 349,76$
  • other expenses 37 603,56$
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Wedding at Zelenograd hospice
Wedding at Zelenograd hospice

At the end of 2021, journalist Dmitry Muratov joined those who helped hospices.On October 11, 2021, he received the Nobel Peace Prize and donated all funds to 5 Russian organizations, including us.
These are the miracles that happen. Sometimes — very big, sometimes small.

For a sick person lying in bed 24 hours a day, going out/going for a walk, watching the sky, falling golden leaves, feeling the autumn wind is a miracle and life! A simple walk requires preparation. In hospices there are special lifts that lifts and gently lowers the wards into a wheelchair. So those who can't walk go for a walk. Or you can leave without getting out of bed. In winter, the walks continue, as well as in autumn.

Or you can stay inside the hospice, it's cozy there. Every week a "joy cart" comes to the wards with various goodies: strawberries, pizza, ice cream. Or crispy sauerkraut, delicious homemade jelly — so the volunteers pampered the patients of the hospice "Degunino".

And in the Zelenograd hospice, a wedding was held for the first time. The couple has been together for more than 30 years. When his wife became seriously ill, her husband supported her and was almost constantly by her side. Instead, they decided to consolidate their union.

There was also such a miracle… Nastya, our ward from the Tsaritsyno hospice, received a call from Jared Leto on her 27th birthday. Then Nastya's brother shared with us: "My dream is for Jared to find out that there is such a girl here in Russia — smart, beautiful, ambitious, loving. Who, despite everything, continues to believe in herself, in us, in her colleagues. I dream that she will hear words of support not only from me, mom and sisters, but also from her long-time idol and friend Jared Leto."

When the foundation finds out about a ward’s dream, a chain of handshakes is immediately launched. This time, the dream seemed impossible for everyone. Everyone except our colleague Olga Ebich. When she heard about Jared, she asked: why not? And the online meeting took place.

Miracles that we are not talking about, but that must necessarily be, are oxygen concentrators — without them a person cannot breathe enough and suffers from shortness of breath, medical consumables — tubes, masks for patients, disposable gloves for staff, as well as hygiene products and adult diapers. Now they are getting more expensive, and logistics is partially disrupted. But thanks to you we continue to help those who are most vulnerable.

Our fund has spent for this program 217 103,96$ from October to December including:

  • medical equipment and its service 41 597,90$
  • meals 1 794,72$ 
  • coordinators´ salaries 131 711,90$
  • hospice stuff financial support 7 428,26$
  • other expenses 34 571,18$
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In September three hospices supported by the Fund celebrated their anniversaries: the First Hospice of Moscow (24 years), the Samara Hospice (23 years), and the Rostokino Hospice (18 years).

On the anniversary of the First Hospice of Moscow, musicians from the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia organized a concert of classical music for staff and patients, and even brought their own piano. At the Rostokino Hospice dumplings and a signature pilaf were cooked on a grill to honor the occasion.

In the financial report for September at our website there is a column “Payment for the provision of emergency medical aid to the patient Mary – 1,450,000 rubles”. Behind this dry formulation is an incredible story about how Mary, a patient from the Degunino Hospice, was returned to her home country. Mary came to Russia from the Philippines 7 years ago, long before the borders were closed, and worked as a cleaner in Moscow to provide a decent life for her family back home. In 7 years, she was only able to return home once.

In 2019 Mary underwent an examination for a lump in her chest. Alas, cancer was diagnosed too late and almost immediately treatment was refused. Mary believed in a miracle, namely, that she would manage to see her family, despite the circumstances. Founder Nyuta Federmesser made a post with a request for help to pay for the flight. Hundreds of people responded, and the Fund made arrangements so that Mary could spend the final days of her life with her family. The flight went well, and they met Mary at the airport in Manila. Now she is at home.

A former employee of the Fund, Olga, decided to spend her birthday helping hospice patients. Her friends supported the idea and bought many essential supplies such as razors, hairbands, aroma lamps, and thermal blankets for the Butovo Hospice.

The company KitChai donated 1.5 tons of avocado and papaya to all the hospices in Moscow, the Center for Palliative Care, and the House of Mercy. Salads, stuffed eggs, and guacamole on toast were also made in the hospices. Many patients tried exotic fruits for the first time.

All summer our volunteers brought fruits and vegetables to the hospices. Patients spent the entire day in the fresh air. Walks, picnics, and ice cream – a summer for all the life that remains.

One patient at the First Hospice of Moscow, Igor, is a poet and a scholar. Staff members and volunteers made a film about him.

In September the Hotline celebrated its fifth year of helping terminally ill people. This is one of the most important projects of “Vera” Fund. Operators council terminally ill people, their relatives, and health care professionals, and answer questions about end-of-life treatment, such as those related to pain relief, patient rights, and patient care. The Hotline operates toll free in all regions around the clock.


The 15th Anniversary of the Fund and release of the book Life for All the Life that Remains

The first event we spoke of was the 15th anniversary of the Fund. The book, the quintessence of our work, was prepared for publication by the Yelena and Gennady Timchenko Charity Foundation. 2,000 copies are in circulation, and a portion of the proceeds from sales of the book will be given to our Fund by the AST publishing house.

Life for All the Life that Remains is a collection of stories about hospice patients. Collected in a single volume are the personal impressions and recollections of the Fund’s staff, as well as conversations with those they have cared for.

On September 26th we presented the book at the Moscow International Book Fair and received a warm and soulful response. Many people who visited the exhibition, upon hearing the conversation, were unable to pass by. After all, we touched on a topic that concerns us all – how not to fear death. The book is available for purchase at all major bookstores and online.

Our fund has spent for this program 124 140,43$ from July to September including:

  • medical equipment and its service 7 759,90$
  • meals 3 020,52$
  • vehicles and its maintenance 106,13$ 
  • coordinators´ salaries 97 962,35$
  • hospice stuff financial support 14301,43$
  • other expenses 990,10$
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Victory Day concert in hospice
Victory Day concert in hospice

In April, as soon as the snow melted and the sun came out, walks and picnics resumed in hospices. Many people think that patients' lives are held within four walls, but this is not the case — as soon as the weather allows, patients go outside in wheelchairs and beds.

April is the time for cleaning and renovating. Hospice staff and volunteers have put the territory in order to make it easier for patients to go out for walks. In the garden of the hospice "Butovo", in the farthest corner, there is a very cozy place. Before the pandemic, even large families of patients could gather together for a picnic and not feel in the hospital — as if they were at the country side together. One family even once celebrated 25 years of marriage there. Volunteers put this place in order after the winter: they bought paint, sanded and painted the pergola, barbecue, benches and planted flowers.

In the hospice "Nekrasovka" volunteers cleaned the second floor of the gallery. The volonteer Aigyun wrote a review: "The hospice gave me not only a love for clean-up days, but also wonderful people with whom we easily put our former greenhouse in order for a couple of hours, closed for the quarantine period, which will soon delight everyone around with its greenery again."

"Joy carts" returned to hospices - with treats and small gifts for patients. Volunteers carry a cart around the wards and offer hospice residents sandwiches, fruits and cakes. Everyone can choose an afternoon snack to their liking. And on the bottom shelf - hand creams, crosswords and various useful little things. Patients are very fond of "joy carts". And newbies are always surprised that everything is free. Sometimes carts are organized in honor of some holiday or event. For example, Masha, a volunteer at the Degunino hospice, became the winner of the All-Russian school contest of Law. In honor of this event, Ekaterina organized a "joy cart" for patients.

On April 29, a large charity Easter bake was held in favor of Moscow hospices and wards of the Vera Foundation. Our regular volunteer Nadezhda once again gathered a team of bakers. They baked royal cheesecakes and 1350 cakes for the Easter table.

Each patient received a gift — no one felt forgotten and lonely. Visiting hospice services congratulated patients at home on Easter. Nurses and hospice doctors came to the calls with cakes, Easter towels and souvenirs.

Spring and summer were marked by a return to the regular order - as before quarantine, as possible in the conditions of the ongoing pandemic.

"Now the hospice is slowly returning to its former life. Visits to relatives are already allowed, and this is very important for everyone. We try to make the hospice cozy, we equip recreation areas where patients can spend time with their loved ones over a cup of tea or just sit, chat, read magazines and books. One of these places is our bright hall with comfortable furniture and a fireplace," says Svetlana Porfirenko, coordinator of the Degunino hospice.

In May, Victory Day was celebrated in hospices. Friends of the foundation and volunteers brought treats, flowers and gifts — radios, handkerchiefs and creams. There were roses and carnations in every ward and hall.

In June, hospice staff celebrated their professional holiday - the Day of the Medical Worker. A singer Sergey Galanin came to the Palliative Care Center to congratulate the doctors. And the patient Vanya congratulated the doctors and nurses with poems of his own composition.

And of course what summer is without berries and ice cream? As soon as the first harvest appeared in the summer houses, hospice friends brought strawberries, currants, mint, greens for patients. And ice cream is generally the most favorite treat in hospices. Patients love it very much and eat it every day both on walks and in wards. June in Moscow turned out to be sultry. The temperature reached +37 degrees. Patients found ways to survive the heat, and still did not give up walking. "We drank ice cream milkshakes, turned on the air conditioners and walked at night. We have a cool lobby, and during the day everyone hung out there with a book or a movie. And all the men also wished for ultra-short haircuts," says Nastya Lavrentieva, coordinator of the Rostokino hospice.


Our fund has spent for this program 143 480,41$ from July to March including:

  • medical equipment and its service 2 817,55$
  • meals 2 273,44$
  • vehicles and its maintenance 33 068,16$ 
  • coordinators´ salaries 103 056,34$
  • other expenses 2 264,92$
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Organization Information

VERA Hospice Charity Fund

Location: Moscow - Russia
Facebook: Facebook Page
VERA Hospice Charity Fund
Maria Bakhtina
Project Leader:
Maria Bakhtina
Moscow , Moscow Russia

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