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)?
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.
This year, the summer camp started on 6th June and the Parish is planning to continue summer activities until 31st August before children return to schools in September.
Currently up to 18 children benefit from the summer camp, 15 of them are disabled children with a range of disabilities: learning disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy, eyesight problems, heart and lung conditions and 4 children are from poor families. All came from the Kondopoga region, the youngest is 6 years of age and the eldest is 15.
At the beginning of the camp, there was a slight problem with finding volunteers, which has now been resolved – 2 people help in the kitchen and 3 help run summer activities. One of these volunteers came from ‘ Zabota’ (Care) social centre.
Every day is organised differently, with different activities such as sewing, drawing, clay modelling, educational games and outdoor games. The camp is also somewhere their parents can get advice, consultation with specialists and volunteers at the Parish and most importantly moral support and a boost to their family budget. Depending on the weather, lessons are held outdoors and this helps to boost the children’s physical stamina. Masterclasses are held for children to create their own masterpieces in needlework, drawing and applique. Everyone is particularly excited to spend time with Danae, the dog of one of the volunteers who made friends with all the children last year. The children enjoy joining in theatre performances too.
The Parish is also planning to provide children with school supplies for the new school term.
When Yunes first came to the club for deaf and hearing impaired pre-school children in January his family was struggling with his behaviour. Now just a few months later we see a huge difference in him, and his mama does at home too. This will help him enormously when he startes kindergarten in September.
Yunes comes from a bi-lingual family and he uses a cochlear implant. When our colleagues first met him he was almost two and a half years old. Yunes found it very difficult to sit still, he didn’t play with other children, he didn’t keep to any rules and he didn’t react to sounds or to speech.
He regularly came to the club we sponsor with his mother. This is a weekly playgroup with specific support for deaf and hearing impaired children. The club includes a music session, snack time, craft activities, free play and specialist support to adjust hearing aids. Since coming to the club, Yunes’ behaviour has changed a great deal. All the activities are designed to help the children tune into their surroundings. This has certainly worked for Yunes. Now he pays much more attention to what is going on around him. He watches closely what other people are up to and learns how to use the toys and the musical instruments in this way. He doesn’t just copy movements, he has also started to repeat sounds including individual syllables from some of the songs we sing together. He has learned to play with other children and joins in with all the activities we organise.
We love it that at the end of an activity Yunes helps put the toys or instruments away. He also really enjoys helping get ready for snack time. He puts the cups and plates on the table and helps clear away at the end.
His mama says that at home Yunes has learned how to listen and understand what his parents are asking him to do. She has learned to see his strengths and both takes pleasure in and praises Yunes for all his little successes. We are delighted to see their relationship strengthening and Yunes developing the skills he will need to be happy and to make further progress at kindergarten.
Thank you for making it possible for us to support Yunes and his family.
St Gregory’s has worked with Ekaterina Klochkova to improve the care of disabled children since our beginnings as a charity. In recent months, Physical Rehabilitation, the charity she founded in St Petersburg, has developed significantly, allowing them to serve more families.
Keeping active is vital for children with physical disabilities, but it can be hard to do. This is why, our colleagues at Physical Rehabilitation in St Petersburg developed Move4Fit. The first fitness application for children with motor disabilities.
Surprisingly, until now, such fitness apps for children with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilties have simply not existed. The app allows families to draw up fitness plans and set goals. The regular workouts develop their motor skills, increase confidence, and are fun.
Last summer was a very special one for the Parish of Kondopoga, Karelia. An easing of restrictions allowed the summer activities to go ahead and the Parish invited ten disabled children and their parents to join the summer programme for children from disadvantaged families. As the weather was warm and sunny, most lessons and games were held outdoors and children learned new skills and made new friends.
“What a wonderful summer! We all enjoyed meetings, friends, laughter and a wonderful atmosphere at the parish. A huge thank you for this support dur- ing the hard time of covid. We also received food, shoes and school uniforms. We are looking forward as a family to growing more with the parish and cannot wait for next summer.”
Food parcels and books and school uniform for the new school year were also distributed by the parish to local families living in poverty.
Christmas cards and gifts for charity
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.