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Back to School. A Different experience for orphans.

The new school term is upon us. Starting college for orphanage leavers in Russia will be a very different experience compared to teenagers in the UK.

Having completed GCSEs, it's time to do more challenging courses or apprenticeships on the next stage to independence. Some may feel nervous, but most will be well prepared for college. Educated since the age of 5, they'll probably have already visited the college on an open day and have a basic understanding of the courses they've chosen. They will have been encouraged to develop goals and develop ideas about how to achieve them. Most importantly, they'll have their family to support them through their studies. Then, after 2 years, they'll be given careers advice or help applying for university or finding a job.

It's time to leave the orphanage - their home, school and entire world until now. It's scary and for most there is no one to help. Coming from an institution where the education is basic and room to develop 'self' is limited, they lack social and life skills such as cooking, cleaning and basic hygiene. Most will be assigned to a college that accepts residential orphans and be placed on a relatively non-challenging course chosen for them - continuing the removal of choice and decision making from their lives but delaying the risk of homelessness. Board is free and claiming a tiny bursary of about £5 a week is possible for those with official paperwork. Obtaining educational supplies and preparing for the future is almost impossible. After 2 years they will be expected to cope on their own.

Each year, up to 100 orphanage leavers receive £22 a month bursary support for up to 2 years through Love Russia's Genesis project. In addition, a Mentor who teaches them life skills and helps them develop socially will ensure they use this money wisely - this support will be ongoing for as long as it is needed.

"My grandparents agreed to take me in when I started college even though they could not afford to feed me. I am so grateful for the money I get each month as I can buy food to help them and buy the stationery I need for college" - Sveta

"I never thought I could do anything with my life but thanks to my Genesis bursary and English lessons I'm studying to become a doctor. It would not have been possible without Love Russia’s help" - Dasha

"For the first time I am enjoying my studies. My Love Russia bursary meant I could buy decent glasses helping me to read my textbooks without having to squint" - Alina

Could you be the support they need and help an orphanage leaver through 2 years of college education?

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