12 week Christmas Countdown: Gift 1 or 12 - Clothes & Shoes!
In Love Russia publicity, the orphanage leavers we support may sometimes seem to be wearing decent clothing, but there are a few factors at play here. Although not appearing raggedy, they are nowhere near owning a selection of garments that allow for different occasions or even varied weather - far from it. Many only have one or two sets of clothes.
During their early year spent at an orphanage their clothes are provided by their care givers. These are often shared and recycled clothes which up close you can see are dated and in bad condition. Theirs one day, someone else’s the next.
When they’re due to leave, or early on during their time at residential college, directors may allow them to spend their allowance on a couple of items of clothing. Like most teenagers they want to look fashionable, often buying poor quality fake reproductions at bargain prices and wearing these favourite items every day. On our visits we have observed young people three months, six months or a year down the line, still wearing the same clothes we saw them in the last time. Sadly this is not just coincidence.
A choice of only one or two sets of clothes, combined with poor personal hygiene (this is addressed in life skills sessions with Mentors) means that remaining fresh and presentable is difficult. This summer, five of our volunteers had suitcases go missing, and for three days experienced the discomfort of trying to stay cool and clean when managing with little more than the clothes on their backs. This is a challenge most orphanage leavers face EVERY DAY.
New clothes, winter coats and shoes are all items you can help with. Giving an Alternative Gift at Christmas means we can give orphans clothes vouchers – not only the gift of warm, clean clothes but also the dignity of personal preference, and the opportunity to practise budgeting and decision-making, with help from our Mentors.