Since 1991 St Gregory’s Foundation has worked with the exceptionally active parish in Kondopoga to serve their poor community. During that time Russia and Kondopoga have changed greatly, but the parish continues to meet the challenges in its path. Tamara Dragadze, one of our directors, reflects on what supporting Kondopoga has meant to her personally.
Many years ago, St Gregory’s Foundation provided funding for the parish in Kondopoga to have on its land a small sawmill and a woodwork workshop (which made furniture and used the saw wood profitably too) and all that went with it. Unfortunately in time these stopped being commercially viable and they closed. We at St Gregory’s accepted that things like that happened…
However, many years later a devoted member of their parish appeared from nowhere and decided to revive it as a centre for teaching woodwork to youths to have a profession and make furniture and frames only for use in the parish. Father Lev has also been able to use half the space for other uses, such as putting up campers and youths who have nowhere else to go. So all our investment is proving to have been very much worthwhile after all.
In the early days too, St Gregory Foundation helped the parish build a dacha (a centre for summer camps) on nearby Lake Munozero for use by the Parish. This was done by a local parishioner who was a builder. Last year there was a tragedy in the region when three youths died while on holiday in a summer camp. The reaction of the local government was to totally forbid any more summer camps to take place at all! Nevertheless, the parish took children and their parents to their dacha. At 2 a.m one night, the police woke everyone up demanding that they close up. However, the parish leader was able to demonstrate that the dacha actually was privately owned and that this was not a publicly designated camp site. There were children and parents on holiday totally legitimately. Therefore it was the status of the dacha which made it impossible for the police to close down the holiday project. Once again, our charity had supported what in the long run has proven to be an invaluable asset for the Kondopoga parish to nurture their vulnerable and deprived members of all ages.
It is one of the most heartening realisations I have ever experienced as a long-time director of St Gregory’s Foundation, that with time every bit of help given to Kondopoga has had lasting and good consequences so long as we waited long enough.