Half term. What's it like for Russian orphans?
To all the parents out there – you did it! It is the end of half term week! We hope that you have not just survived the week but that you have managed to make some great memories with your children – whether that be on days out or just having family time at home.
(And to all you teachers – we hope you have had a good and well deserved rest!)
School holidays are such an important part of childhood – a chance to relax from the everyday routine of school and to try things that you may not have time to do during school term. But sadly for children growing up in Russian orphanages, school holidays are not usually a time for relaxation and fun.
As the holidays are the only chance the carers can have for some time off, many orphanages ‘close’ for the holidays. Children are sent to either any living relatives they have or are split up and sent off to holiday camps. Those that go to live with relatives often complain that they do not know these relatives and so spend the holidays with people they do not know who can hardly afford to feed an extra mouth, never mind do any activities with them. For the others sent to holiday camps – although this sounds fun, they can be split up from their friends and/or siblings at their orphanage and sent to a new place, alone. Although those running the holiday camps try their best to provide activities for the children – it is costly and they are unable to give the children the individual attention they need. At least at the orphanage they know who their carers are – even if they don’t get one to one attention.
For older orphans who are now studying at college, the holidays pose a new challenge. Many colleges close their campus accommodation for the holidays and students are expected to go and live at home. But where can those who grew up in an orphanage go? Some of them are able to go and stay with living relatives but many of them are effectively made homeless and end up ‘sofa surfing’ and staying for a night with one friend then the next night with another – moving around with no place to settle. We always see a rise in the need for our Transition Homes in the holidays.
One college that Love Russia Mentors work with have recognised this problem and are now providing building maintenance holidays jobs for some of their orphan students, allowing them to stay on campus for this. The students are not paid for this but Love Russia does provide a small holiday bursary.
If you would like to donate towards our Transition Homes or the student holiday bursaries, please click here!