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)?

Counselling for special needs parents

staff member from Communication Space with a parent

Back in the first lock-down of the pandemic, we helped Communication Space set up an online counselling service for parents whose children have special needs.

The pandemic crisis may have passed, but parents can still easily find themselves overwhelmed, particularly in a society that has little positive to say about disabled people. So we have continued to fund the service, and are delighted that a second, local funder has also been found. This means that more families can be reached – 109 families in the last year. Each family can access a course of individual counselling as well as support groups led by psychologists.

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The feedback we have is very positive. Yulia wrote,

” I need these groups because they help me feel more stable. This influences how I feel about my child’s special needs, my relationship with the professionals we work with, and relationships within our family. In the end it influences the quality of my choices for child’s education and socialisation.”

Natalia can point to a very concrete improvement in her quality of life. Thanks to the course, she has been able to improve her relationship with her mother.

We are also delighted that Communication Space have been able to set up a training flat. Sergei stays the night once a week with other young adults. This is the first time he has slept anywhere other than at home. At first he found this distressing, but now he is much more settled. While Sergei learns valuable life skills, like cooking, his mother Lydia gets some essential respite. For the first time, she has time she can call her own, to get things done, to spend time with her other children, or just to rest.

Roma’s first home post-orphanage

Orphanage-leaver Roma smiling as he goes into his new flatSunflower, our partners in St Petersburg, help orphanage-leavers adjust to independent living.  Much of their work is done through support groups, but an individual home visit can work wonders when there is a particular crisis.  By donating to St Gregory’s you make this service happen.

One young man who desperately needed a home visit is Roma. He grew up in an institution for deaf children and he’s now studying at college. When he lived in an institution he was quite confident. It was only when he left that he began to be afraid.

Roma was given a flat, but it was a long way from the part of the city that he knew, and even after he was given the right to live there he continued living in a hostel.

“I don’t know anything about my flat. After I signed the documents I didn’t even go there. I don’t know how to get there and I can’t remember if it still needs work doing on it. I went to the flat once with a teacher from our children’s home by car, had a look and I can’t remember anything about it. I just have a bit of paper with an address and the keys.”

Like all the others, Roma is very scared of somehow being conned out of his flat by some “dangerous” people, so it is difficult for him to see his new home as secure and stable.

With Sunflower’s social teacher, Roma worked out a convenient route from home using his travel pass. They visited his new flat. They got to know the surrounding area and found out where the doctors’ surgery, the post office and other local services are. They worked out what furniture he would need, made a budget and together made a few purchases, teaching Roma how to do this independently in future. Lastly, the social teacher connected Roma with some local organisations that can help people with his disability, and helped him explore how he could spend his leisure time.

Seeing the smile on Roma’s face visiting his new flat makes it all worth while. Hopefully, he will also be able to join in the group activities and continue to grow in confidence and problem-solving ability.

It costs just £7 to make a home visit to someone like Roma, but you can see what a huge difference it can make to someone’s life.

Kindergartens equipped to look after disabled children

Kindergarten pupilFor most children in Russia, kindergarten is the first step in a their education and the first experience of a life outside the family.  This is a stage that many disabled children miss out on because mainstream kindergartens aren’t equipped to look after them.  There just aren’t enough places in mainstream or special provision.

This term we hope that more children with special needs will have a more positive start in kindergartens, and that the staff will feel more confident meeting their needs.  Our partner organisation, Physical Rehabilitation, in St Petersburg has been running a programme particularly aimed at training kindergarten staff Continue reading Kindergartens equipped to look after disabled children