During their most vulnerable years after leaving state care, it is vital that orphanage leavers develop skills that will help them find jobs.
Their education will have been basic, not having the opportunities that mainstream education offers.
Many will leave still unable to read and write confidently.
Most orphans are offered places in vocational colleges where practical skills are taught in subjects such as interior painting and decorating, cookery, gardening and landscaping. Some will live in the onsite dormitories and others in Transition homes. The hope is that they will be able to use these skills to find jobs and eventually be able to to support themselves.
Love Russia's Genesis Project supports orphanage leavers studying at college with a small bursary to help them cover the cost of items needed for college, local bus travel, clothing and shoes and general living. This is made possible through regular giving - Genesis Sponsorship. Every young person is supported by a Mentor who will care for them much like a parent would, teaching life skills to prepare them for their future and if needed, help with finding a place to live.
Each year, Love Russia's Genesis Project helps up to 100 teenagers so they can attend college and get an education, greatly increasing their chances of legal employment. An orphanage leaver is usually supported on the scheme for up to 3 years. Without it, they find it is almost financially impossible to complete their skills training. This small bursary is a lifeline that in most cases, more than doubles their income.
The Genesis Project was vital in helping Sergey feel capable and begin to believe in himself.
When Sergey left his orphanage in St Petersburg, he had nowhere permanent to go. Begging other orphanage leavers who’d already been allocated a one room government ‘flat’* for a place to stay each night, he was forced to move from one friend to another, sleeping on their floors. When nothing was available, Sergey would have to spend the night on the street.
Through friends in similar situations he came to hear about Love Russia who might be able to help him with a small bursary and support on the Genesis Project, allowing him to get an education.
At that time, there was a bed available at a flat where several other orphanage leavers lived, Sergey was offered the place. Their Mentor would check on them daily to make sure they were taking care of themselves and the flat. She showed them how to cook, clean and do all the things we might naturally learn from our parents.
She helped Sergey enrol on a college course that interested him and Love Russia began supporting him with a small bursary to help towards his living expenses.
Having only received a very limited orphanage education, Sergey took the opportunity with both hands - he loves learning! He has progressed from his Sports Education course to specialising with the intention of becoming an international football referee and he is now in the third year of a four year course! To achieve this it is essential that he learns English which he would have to start from scratch as it was not taught at his orphanage (and rarely taught at any others). He needs lessons and Love Russia is seeking to find him a sponsor so he can achieve his dream. His Mentor told us he is such a hard worker and his determination is clear, he just needs the tools to get there.
*If an orphan can produce their registration paperwork (which usually takes months if not years to organise) they are assigned a ‘flat’. Often this is a single room in a very dilapidated building, sharing poor bathroom and kitchen facilities with the occupants of many other rooms.
(Sergey's name has been changed for his protection)