Andrey Rylkov Foundation
for Health and Social Justice
Русский

How we helped parents to get their children ready for school in 2016

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We have developed our “children’s project” for more than 2 years. The purpose of this project is to make it possible for our drug using clients to have warm, friendly interactions with their children. Parents who use drugs often face various difficulties. It can be lack of money to provide for their children everything they need, they often feel exhausted, have health problems and are usually biased. We help the parents to cope with these difficulties and built close relationships with their children so they could feel like they are “good moms and dads.” We regularly organize various activities for children and their families, where children can have fun, learn something new, get some presents and, most importantly,  communicate with their parents in a relaxed, warm atmosphere.

August is the time to get children ready for school. Parents have to purchase uniforms, school bags, notebooks, pens, rulers, study books, painting kits and a bunch of other important things. For the majority of Russian parents it is a huge part of the family budget. For our clients the prices for all those things could be unbearable and sometimes getting their children for school turns into a little family Apocalypse. That’s why it is important for us to make it a pleasant activity for both children and their parents: instead causing stress it should be an opportunity for mutual activities and a joyful friendly family communication. That’s what our project is about – we not only simply buy and distribute pencils and notebooks, but we also build opportunities together with our clients to make such warm and friendly moments happen. That’s why this year we decided to help the parents once more.

We would like to thank everyone who helped us collect the money for their selfless work; and now we want to tell how we managed to collect the necessary amount and what we did with it. So we had to collect 35 thousand rubles in no more than 3 weeks till the 1st of September. We got requests for help from 9 families out of 30 families participating in our project. We collected 36100 rubles as a result of crowd funding through social networks. Donations were received from more than 40 people. Seeing that so many different people united to collect the money and help the children was very motivating for us. As always, during the fundraising we provided transparent reports on the collected money and openly informed about all incoming funds.

As a result, we bought a lot of useful things for the kids: several school uniforms, backpacks, cold weather boots and shoes to wear at school or indoors, hats, gloves, jeans, socks, blankets, pillows, sheets, notebooks, pens, pencils, painting kits, t-shirts for physical education and even a desk lamp.

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Here are a few stories from our social workers who accompanied the parents and the kids at the shops, photographed the whole process and paid for the purchases.

Ezhi, ARF social worker:

I went to the store with Tania and her son Vanya to get a backpack. We didn’t find anything good at the first two shops so we had to walk around a little bit until we found the backpack that everyone liked. I really enjoyed the trip: Tanya and Vanya are very close and we all chatted the whole way to the mall and happily walked there, although Vanya was shy at first. Eventually we bought a very adult-looking backpack in O’stin, and then we sat at the cafeteria a little bit. Vanya told me about his school and a football class, while Tanya made funny comments to his story, they communicated like old friends and I felt very comfortable with them chatting like that. They walked me to the station after that and sent me a very touching message later that evening: “Thanks again, Vanya is very happy! It was a great trip! Everyone liked the backpack. Vanya told his Dad that you look pretty)))!” In short, it was great and they made my day.

 Lema, a social worker and psychologist at ARF:

“A few days ago a received a call from Vasya who was asking whether we have a spare jacket for Andrey (his son)”. Today we went to the shop and bought a jacket for Andrey (prior to this, he was wearing his father’s old jacket). We also bought a hat, a pair of jeans (as I understood, Andrey had only one pair of trousers for school and a pair of sweatpants), gloves and socks. Andrey and Vasya thanked me so many times that it made me a bit uncomfortable. Seems like they really needed our help. Once again we had a nice heartfelt conversation. It’s nice to see that, despite all the difficulties and the fact that it is not always easy to communicate with his son, Vasya really cares about Andrey and in my opinion they have a really great relationship. It delights my heart to see that! We went to the shop with Vitya, Vasya’s friend. I was amazed that such caring men still exist – he helped to choose the jeans and gave some useful advice. After we walked out of the shop, he said: “The world is small but there are people with hearts of gold!”

“Yesterday I went to Auchan with Vika’s family. There were 4 of us: I, Vika, Kolya (it was just going to be his first year at school) and Lilya, she’s 4 or 5 years old. At first I did not like all of that commotion because we usually ask in advance to choose the things so we could just come and pay, while trying the clothes and choosing the right ones takes sooo long. But all of this was not in vain, of course – it would be very difficult for Vika to try the clothes and look after the kids at the same time. As a result, the four of us had a great trip but we also got very tired. We bought boots for a cold season, a red t-shirt for PE class, a desk lamp and a couple of desktop book stands. Kolya said that he also needed watersport goggles, can we buy them if we have some money left? The coolest thing was to look how they all interacted with each other. In the beginning, when we were in a bus to the mall, they were discussing at their Mom’s suggestion what an amazing adventure it would be that day. And all three hours that we spent together, we were chatting, having fun and making photos. Kolya saw that I was taking photos and asked me to try that too, and he took some great shots! Kolya was very glad. He carefully chose the desk lamp and carried it around the whole day after that. It was a great trip”.

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 Masha, ARF social worker:

Our client Tosya has a daughter Julia who needed a haircut for the first day of school. Albina Popovkina, a hairstylist, agreed to cut Julia’s hair at her parlor. At first Julia worried that she would get a “wrong haircut”. So the girl was very tense while she was sitting in the chair. But she got comfortable in a few minutes and explained what kind of haircut she would want, after a while she felt almost like at home and told us that she liked to draw and prefers paint to pencils. “It was fun to take photos of her and the stylist, before the haircut and after, and to show the photos after it”. It was fun to see how Julia sneakingly tries to touch her hair and take a photo of it “for her friend”. It was a wonderful experience for the girl to sit in a chair at a hair dressing saloon like an adult, in front of the mirrors, where you could talk about drawing and they even offered you a cup of coffee or tea. Albina, the hair stylist, is a simply wonderful person, – on the way back she talked with Julia about her drawing, she said that everyone would notice Julia’s new haircut at school the next day and her mom would like it too..’

Thanks to these stories and many others, now we know for sure: a lot of good people interact and participate in our “Children’s project” – all of them help each other and that makes our hearts grow tender!

We know that pleasant and inspiring memories about this phase of the children’s project will remain with us and with all of those involved in the project, with everyone who donated money, things or their time and helped us. Positive experience and warm memories will help us implement other planned activities of this project. We’re going to organize common leisure activities throughout the school year — trips to the theaters, museums, Planetarium and other interesting and educational places. We plan to set various art workshops for schoolchildren at our office.

And of course, the New Year’s Eve is ahead, so we’re going to make a small celebration and to give presents from Father Frost [Russian Santa Claus] and the Snow Maiden!

Thanks to everyone who participated in this project: children, parents, donors, social workers and volunteers. We are pleased to see that there are so many people who care!

How much we spent:

  • Valentina’s family (2 daughters of school age): flats, shoes, headband, belt, pants, skirt, dress-3693 rub.
  • Larisa and her daughter Masha: shirt, pants and underwear-3082 rub.
  • Vasya and his son Andrey: indoor shoes, sweats, sneakers, warm jacket, jeans, hat, gloves, socks (had to go to the shop twice)-7350 rub.
  • Alexander has 3 kids, 2 of them go to school – they got 2 backpacks and the stationery – 3070 rub
  • Eugene and his son Misha: a backpack and boots-2559 rub.
  • Vika with 3 kids: Shoes for the autumn for Kolya, t-shirt for PE class, desktop book stand, desk lamp + linen and sleepers for all the kids – 7472 rub
  • Tosya and her daughter Julia: pencils and gel pens 1707. rub + Julia got a haircut for free
  • Tania from Maryino and her son Vanya – 2499 rub

Total: 36100 

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