What’s the problem?
Some of the poorest people in Russia live in small towns and villages like Kondopoga and Novinka. The summer holidays are a particularly difficult time for their children. Without school lunches, they may not have a hot meal for weeks. Many have parents with drug or drink problems. They hate being at home, so with nowhere else to go they roam the streets, often getting into trouble.
How do we help?
St Gregory’s makes it possible for parishes in Kondopoga and Novinka to run activities for the poorest children and teenagers through the summer holidays.
In Kondopoga, the parish feeds 35 children who are all referred by social services every day of the 3-month long holidays. This isn’t where the help stops. The children have somewhere safe to play through the day, and a local PE teacher provides organised activities for them. Those in particular need are given clothes that are collected locally, new shoes, and have medical care organised. Every child is given a pack of stationery and books that they will need for the new school term.
In the village of Novinka 12 teenagers take part in two-week long summer camp. As well as having a holiday in a beautiful rural setting, they do volunteer work to help the local community. This includes chopping fire-wood for elderly residents and clearing vegetation from the stream where the locals get their drinking water. For many of the teenagers this is their first experience of achieving something positive and of gaining respect from adults around them. Even the most “difficult” teenagers can start to relax and open up as the summer camp progresses.