May newsletter out now

Our May newsletter is out now, including a round up of our news from Moldova, Georgia and Russia. You will see how your donations are being used to support Luisa, who found herself homeless in Tbilisi, and Vika in St Petersburg, whose mother died. We report on our colleagues who are teaching others how to adapt books for people with a range of disabilities, and providing the only therapy available for children with special needs in Călărași, Moldova.

An urgent problem we have this year is helping Sunflower recover from a fire at their summer camp base. This was caused last year by a fault at a local substation. Sunflower have managed to get the lights back on, and have also fundraised locally to replace damaged kitchen equipment. What they now need help with is transport both for their new equipment and for their volunteers, and food to sustain the volunteers as they make the site ready for this year’s camp.

Check out our appeal page if you would like to help.

A visit to The Wish Centre

The journey from Chişinău to Călărași was just over an hour to The Wish Centre for disabled and autistic children and youths. This centre is a beacon for many local families who are raising children with special needs. Currently it is the only place in the region they can turn to for help and guidance.

Eugenia, who is just over 30, saw her life take a dramatic turn a decade ago when her sister lost her parental rights, and Eugenia found herself looking after her niece Ana, a baby with Down syndrome.

Continue reading A visit to The Wish Centre

The family we can’t help right now

In the last couple of months our partners at The Wish in Moldova have been supporting 18 disabled children.  Each one of them has a personalised care plan and has benefitted from speech therapy, ocupational therapy and specialist education to help them develop their thinking skills.  Two thirds of the families come from rural areas.  These areas are already poor, but having a disabled child usually makes it impossible for both parents to work.  When a child isn’t able to go to school someone has to look after them.  Those who live in the countryside also find it harder to access all kinds of services.  Where possible, The Wish provides free transport.  Very sadly, they can no longer offer this to everyone who needs it, which means some families are missing out.

Continue reading The family we can’t help right now

The fight to allow Liviu to attend kindergarten

When Liviu was a baby he was very agitated.  At a very early age, his parents noticed that he wasn’t starting to babble like other babies.  As a toddler, he didn’t respond to his own name and seemed to be in his own little world.  He would often have melt-downs.  After some time, Liviu was diagnised with autism, a diagnosis which scared his mother.

picture of Liviu working on an activity

Now Liviu is nearly five and he has been attending The Wish centre for a year.  He has benefitted from speech therapy, occupational therapy, a psychologist and ABA therapy.  At first he found it difficult to join in, but little by little he became comfortable with the staff.  He stopped crying and started to be interested in the activities and to react to his name.

Continue reading The fight to allow Liviu to attend kindergarten

Our Christmas appeal – a chance to help Ana

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’s story

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)?

Meet our new Moldovan partners

In Moldova only 26% of the population believe that people with special needs should be included in their community. Like other ex-Soviet countries, Moldova has traditionally relied on large institutions to care for disabled children and adults. This has left communities wary of those who are different, and families with very few support services.

St Gregory’s has a history of championing inclusion in this region. We look forward to working with our new partners to give families access to the kind of support which will affirm their children’s value and help them reach their potential.

On 28th November, Giving Tuesday, there is a great opportunity to help. You can help us win a share of $1,200,000 by donating on that day via Global Giving.

We also have tickets on sale for our online talk on Ukrainian art and architecture from an esteemed curator, Alexei Leporc, at The Hermitage Museum. 

The Wish (Dorintsa) is based in Călărași. They provide therapy and education for children with additional needs in this mainly rural area.

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.