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.
Recently Kondopoga parish took a small group of children to the local music and drama theatre in Petrozavodsk. For the majority it was their very first visit to the theatre which became a wonderful discovery and brought a lot of excitement. The Parish uses every opportunity to broaden children’s cultural horizons and to teach them about the local history of Karelia.
All the children were from poor families and would otherwise not get the chance to travel beyond their small, provincial town.
We weren’t able to transfer money to Kondopoga in time for their summer activities. However, the parish managed to continue with their food parcels and their children’s activities through June and half of July. A local supplier even provided the food on credit. Fortunately, we have now been able to send them half their grant in our first trial transfer. They can now pay back their debt and contine serving the very poor families in their town.
This summer, the parish managed to take a small group of children aged 12-15 to St Petersburg. The six children were chosen for their maturity and committment to parish activities. Three packed days of sight-seeing were planned, and it was important that the children who took part would enjoy it. All six of the children also come from socially disadvantaged families, so this was their first opportunity to see some of the highlights of world culture to be found in St Petersburg.
Over three days, the group visited the great cathedrals of St Petersburg and nearby island, Kronstadt. The children were particularly amazed by the Church on the Spilt Blood. Outside, the colourful domes are a striking landmark, but inside the mosaics covering every inch of the walls and ceiling really impressed. The children also visited the Hermitage with a tour of galleries devoted to Rembrandt, Rubens, Caravaggio and others. The girls were particularly taken by the portraits of women in the Romanov gallery.
Later this month, Kondopoga parish will be taking a larger group of children to the regional capital, Petrozavodsk to visit the museum and a couple of very fine churches. In this way they continue to broaden the cultural horizons of children in Kondopoga.
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.
Last year after the schools in Kondopoga were closed due to quarantine, and the curriculum was supplemented with online teaching. No children from poor families could join as they did not have access to computers or internet. This made studying very hard for them. The Parish stepped in to help these children in their education and with St Gregory’s support they bought two laptops and hosted online classes which children could attend at the Parish House.
Usually, with our help, the Orthodox parish in Kondopoga, Karelia provides lunch and a range of activities to deprived local children – all based at their welcoming hub at Parish House. This year, group activities weren’t possible, but with unemployment rising the parish knew that the need was greater than ever.
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…
Every summer we help Kondopoga parish to feed 30 of the town’s most deprived children during the summer holidays. Every day they came to parish house for a hot lunch followed by games. Some of the children come because their family is simply too poor to feed them, like the family with four boys under six whose father is too ill to work. Continue reading Two brothers find a new family thanks to Kondopoga parish
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.