This year our Christmas appeal is in aid of The Wish, a Moldovan charity that is providing rare community support for children with disabilities in Moldova.
Ana is eleven now, and she has been coming to The Wish since she was five. Ana had a difficult start in life. She used to live in the countryside with her mother, who is disabled, and her grandfather. After her grandfather died her mother couldn’t cope financially or practically. Fortunately, the wider family were able to help and Ana now lives in Călărași with her aunt.
Ana also has Down syndrome. Her aunt is working hard to try and meet her additional needs and brought her to The Wish. When she first joined aged five her language skills were poor, as well as her co-ordination and fine motor skills. The Wish provide her with a personalised programme of therapy including speech therapy. She also takes part in a whole range of activities, both educational activities and social ones. Ana is integrated into a local mainstream school, but she only attends two days a week. This makes The Wish’s support absolutely vital both for her and her family.
Ana is lucky in that in her aunt’s family she feels loved and important as a member of the family. Eugenia strives to educate her properly and to be her mother and close friend as well. The Wish supports her aunt and mother by teaching them about Down Syndrome and about some of the strategies and techniques they use to work effectively with Ana. They are fortunate to have formed a good team with her family – together they can give Ana much more support than either of them can alone.
How to donate today
We are delighted to see the progress that Ana has made, and to see her enjoying our group activities so much. It is very much for Ana, and other children like her, that we are appealing today. It is so important that Ana’s care is not interrupted, and so we are doing all we can to fill gaps in the local funding. Can you help us raise £4,300 by the end of the year so that we can continue to be there for Ana and her family (as well as 29 other children and young people)?
Our November newsletter is out now. It marks a new departure for St Gregory’s, introducing our three new partners in Moldova. All three are tackling the woeful lack of community services for people with special needs or learning difficulties. They also hope to challenge the stigma around special needs in a country where only 26% of the population believe that people with special needs should be included in the community.
You will also find all the news from our Russian and Georgian partners, plus ideas for how you can get involved. You won’t want to miss our art talk from esteemed Hermitage Curator, Alexei Leporc. You are also invited to join us on an exciting trip to Georgia.
Sunny Corner (Plaiul Soarelui) runs a farm in the Moldovan countryside, where young people with disabilities can get involved in meaningful work and social activities. We are delighted to have co-sponsored a ball for their families, and young people with learning difficulties from further afield, including Ukraine. Parents talk of how the event made them feel visible, and brought great joy to their children.
Rain Kids (Copiii Ploii) is based in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova. The charity provides therapy to children with special needs. Together we are tackling the skills gap by funding additional training for their therapists.
Our partners, Communication Space Centre in Moscow, support children and young people who do not communicate verbally. We support their Alternative Technology programme, using hi- and low-tech means to make communication possible. We are delighted that they have been able to move to bigger and better premises recently.
Sasha is one of thirty children and teenagers that Communciation Space help with regular one-to-one and group activities funded by St Gregory’s Foundation. Sasha is 14. Like all Communication Space’s young people he does not communicate verbally. He also has learning, emotional and behavioural problems. In just six months, Communication Space have helped him make great progress.
Six families with children aged 5 to 11 took part in Sunflower’s summer camp this year. The venue this year was different: they stayed at a centre in Komarovo beside the Finnish Gulf as the log cabin (the dacha) required some repair and later a dramatic fire happened at the site.
A new location offered lots of scope for outdoor fun and games, and as usual special training was organised for both parents and children. Many of the activities related to the levels of freedom and responsibility that the parents give their children as they grow and establishing an appropriate balance. The children were able to explore the theme too through a fairy story, ‘Dwarf Long-nose’ in which a little boy has to cope with a magical transformation so complete that his parents don’t recognise him.
This is the scene in Dolbeniki at the dacha used by Sunflower for their summer camps. A serious accident at a local electrical substation led to a power surge and a wave of fires hit the area.
The free-standing dining room caught fire immediately, destroying the building, the furniture and also the kitchen equipment, which was stored there. Fortunately, no-one was hurt. The fire brigade arrived swiftly and the fire was extinguished. It did not spread to any of the other buildings used during the summer camps.
Sunflower are assessing the damage and the cost of creating a new eating area so that they can run summer camps there again. Meanwhile, volunteers have started to clear the site already, although the weather will soon force a break in the work. Serious work will start in spring 2024, when we hope to be able to help Sunflower recover.
Our charity shop has unique gifts handcrafted in Georgia and Russia, exclusive card designs, jewellery, books, toiletries and more. Each purchase helps vulnerable children and families in Eastern Europe.