Pskov Post-Orphanage Centre

The following is a small report detailing the activities of our newly opened Post-Orphanage Centre, from September 2016 – January 2017.

First, and most importantly – our Centre is open and has been the regular hangout of nine orphanage graduates, and visited by two others. Several more have expressed interest, but have not yet found the courage to come along. As is openly admitted, shyness and timidity are the main reasons that new “club members” are reticent to join in, at first. New participants generally join when a friend finally convinces them to overcome their timidity and agrees to introduce them to the group.Meeting new friends, extended communication, interesting lectures and new perspectives – all this can now unite orphanage graduates from various districts of our Pskov region.

Our informal club meetings, which take place on Friday nights, have almost become a tradition. We’ve had literature readings (Pushkin “Queen of Spades”, C.S. Lewis, “The Four Loves”), film clubs with discussion (Russian and American classics and short, educational films and lectures) and a whole host of other interesting activities.

Our poetry workshop helped many of us to try our hand at communicating in verse, to see ourselves and our potential from a new perspective, and consider the hidden impulses of ours souls, such as sometimes remain inexpressible in non-poetic forms.

We have had several culinary workshops.  Especially noteworthy was one workshop where we whipped up a banquet (for ourselves) entirely made up of Turkish cuisine. We learned how to cook Turkish white bean and vegetable soup, as well as stuffed red bell peppers with hot spices and raisins. Consuming the feast was just as fun as preparing it, nor was it simple to refuse “seconds”.

Sometimes we took day-trips, including to a local ostrich farm! When the weather gets better in the spring, we would like to add more outside activities.

In terms of educational programs, we have begun Russian language and Mathematics lessons, which all of us need in order to improve our level of literacy and numeracy, which ranges from person to person from the mid-secondary school level straight down to Grade 1 level. These lessons are provided as a basis for beginning to boost our educational level – each of us starting from where we are. We hope soon to begin English tutorials and other subjects which are included in the state curriculum, and electives or “work practice” placements, which will help us find specific employment.

Given that so many of us need legal advice on matters to do with housing, work, etc, we have opened cooperation with the Association of Lawyers in Pskov. We wish to express our thanks to the Association in general, and to the President of local Young Lawyers Council – Arseniya Razumovskaya –– who is running a course of professional lectures for us, on subjects which are the most important urgent and topical for orphanage graduates. We are very blessed by Arseniya’s expert advice, enthusiasm and desire to help. She has over 10 years of experience working specifically with orphanage graduates, and brings to our members’ cases a wealth of information and know-how that we could not get from any other source. Our members are literally “on fire” with new plans regarding the implementation of their rights and now have reasonable hope that these plans may become a reality. One member of our club is already waiting, with Arseniya’s help, for the court to allocate her housing. All of this help and advice, of course, is being provided pro-bono.

On western Christmas (25 December), our club hosted a guest speaker, Ivan Pavlovich Adelgeim. Ivan Pavlovich is the son of recently martyred priest, Fr. Pavel Adelgeim, who was well renowned in Pskov and through all of Russia as an intellectual and a dissident, who helped preserve the living Church during the Soviet era.

Ivan Pavlovich spoke to us about Christmas and about the Russian Orthodox traditions with which we meet the birth of our Saviour. The lecture took place in a very cosy atmosphere, especially as it was followed by a traditional English Christmas dinner (our gift to Ivan Pavlovich in return for his interesting talk). Ivan Pavlovich has a very interactive presentation style, which meant that we were able to share what we already know about Christmas, and he filled in much of the detail – especially the detail of the Biblical/Gospel accounts of the birth of Christ.

Until recently, Ivan Pavlovich was the director of Orthodox Choir School, and himself (together with his father) took part in providing home and shelter for around 15 orphans, all of whom are now grown up, though Ivan Pavlovich doesn’t know the whereabouts of many of them (it was more his father’s project). Via Ivan Pavlovich, we have extended an invitation to participate in Post-Orphanage Centre activities to any of those who were previously under his father’s care and who may need support of any kind. For his part, he is enthusiastic to help and support our Centre in any way he can. To start, he has agreed to continue with interesting talks about the Orthodox Christian way of life, for which we are waiting with great impatience and gratitude.

In January, we moved to our newly rented office location – out of the private flat in which we have been meeting.

Thank you to all participants and friends of our Centre, and a special thank you to our sponsors. We wish all your bold hopes and desires come true in the New Year!