Conflict Resolution in Kiev

Alla Soroka writes of her experience as an Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) facilitator in Kiev

[This article appeared in the 3 April 2014 edition of the British magazine The Friend,  It is reproduced here with permission.  It also appeared in the USA in the May issue of Friends Journal,]

An AVP meeting in Kiev. | Photo: Ludmila Komashko

An AVP meeting in Kiev. | Photo: Ludmila Komashko

The events in Ukraine can be seen in different ways. Just among my own family and friends, there are differences. My parents voted for Viktor Yanukovych. They believe in supporting Russia and friendly relations between the two countries. My friend supports the people who were on the Maidan in Kiev. She thinks people have the right to say what they want and don’t want. My sister says people should watch less TV and do more praying. The mass media pour out a stream of diverse news and people are overwhelmed by emotions. Much information is unreliable, and there is a lot of interpretation: emotions come to the boil! Read more…

Therapy Group Krug Brings Vision of Integrated Society to Life

This article appeared in The Moscow Times on 1 April 2014, and is reproduced here by permission.

Its  author, Sam Skove, worked with Krug during his stay as an intern at Friends House Moscow.

Krug participants perform in an experimental dance and musical piece (photo: Ilmar Stutterer / Krug)

Krug participants perform in an experimental dance and musical piece (photo: Ilmar Stutterer / Krug)

When Sasha Gogolev began art therapy at Moscow’s Krug center, he was uncommunicative, at times speaking hardly a word.

Now Sasha is not only talkative, but one of Krug’s star performers, gracefully and confidently performing in one of the center’s touring dance ensembles.

Krug, despite being founded before the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1989, has long been at the forefront of innovative arts therapy programs, seeking not only to rehabilitate its students but to integrate them into the daily bustle of Moscow life. Read more…

Research study highlights work with families

Dzerzhinsk research article rotated croppedIn April 2013 a research team from the U.K. visited the city of Dzerzhinsk, east of Moscow.  Joy Gauci and Stuart Barber from the University of Worcester were joined by Sue Kent, Professional Officer for Children’s Services at the British Association of Social Workers.  They were there to study an innovative project funded by FHM, which is breaking new ground in the way children are treated.

The project aims to keep families together when their children are at risk of being taken away into state or foster care.  It brings together several city agencies concerned with children’s welfare. A team of social workers and psychologists works intensively with families in a multifaceted approach including seminars, parent and child groups, and going to court with the families to support them. Read more…

Valiant Lovers, Partners, Activists and Friends?

JamesJames_and_Lucretia_MottBy Patricia Stewart

Friends House Moscow is now in year one of a three-year translation project funded by The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. Natalia Nakaznyuk, one of our translators, is very enthusiastic about one of our book choices: Margaret Hope Bacon’s Valiant Friend: The Life of Lucretia Mott.

Natalia has written a description of the book, which we will use to promote it on our Russian-language forum.

“… if the Russian reader is already more or less acquainted with the battle against slavery, we know less about the battle for equal rights between men and women and less still about the role of Quakers in these movements.

Margaret Hope Bacon’s work fills in these gaps. The book’s indubitable value lies in the author’s attention to endearing, sometimes amusing nuances of character, to the details. Daily life, family, love and friendship do not lose their importance against the background of events that played an important part in the development of our contemporary civilization.”

Our staff member and editor, Natasha Zhuravenkova, has also been struck by the book’s description of personal relationships, namely the marriage and partnership between Lucretia and James Mott, who were, she says, “so different, yet it is apparent that they complemented, even completed, each other”.

American and British Friends may come to see our own history in a renewed, perhaps warmer, light thanks to the responses of our Russian readers. After reading their comments, we notice how, in a famous 1842 daguerrotype, the Motts face forward, but also lean gently toward each other.

In year two, we plan to translate a biography of Elizabeth Fry.

The image of James and Lucretia Mott, ca. 1842, is a phototype reproduction of a daguerrotype by Langenheim Brothers, from Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College

Annual Report and Accounts 2012

The Friends House Moscow annual report and accounts for 2012 is now available, and can be viewed or downloaded by clicking here.

Russian and British social workers share a seminar on the internet

Daphne Sanders, Clerk to the international board of FHM, writes about a ground-breaking international collaboration between social workers in Russia and Britain:

Daphne Sanders, Sue Kent and Joy Gauci

Daphne Sanders, Sue Kent and Joy Gauci

On 22nd February social workers in Russia and Britain ‘lived adventurously’ (in the Quaker phrase) by ambitiously setting up a 3-way Skype link between the University of Worcester, the Pedagogical University in Moscow, and the Centre for Psychological-Medical-Social Support in Dzerzhinsk.  We conducted a seminar on ‘Understanding Cultural Aspects of Parental Distress and Contemporary Practice Responses – UK and Russian perspectives’.

The event was organised by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) Russian Network.  There were about 25 participants in Worcester, a similar number at the Pedagogical University, and three people in Dzerzhinsk.  The focus was on the nature of the problems presented by families struggling, and sometimes failing to look after their children, and the interventions which can help them.  Read more…

Homeless shelter targeted by police

“Unfortunately, minds and hearts can freeze over at any time of the year”

AVP visiting Noah Shelter

Friends House Moscow was dismayed to hear that a “Noah” homeless shelter near Moscow was targeted by a police raid and shut down, throwing its residents on to the streets.

During 2012 FHM sponsored AVP (Alternatives to Violence) workshops at Noah.  You can read more about this AVP work in our recent newsletter here.

Below is a translation of a news article from Rossiiskaya Gazeta (“Russian Newspaper”).  You can read the article in Russian here:


“On January 23 at 11 p.m., five police cars full of officers, then two more, drove up to our shelter in Domodedovo. The alleged reason for this sudden visit was a statement by an anonymous police well-wisher that people were being forcibly detained in the house.” (Information from the Noah shelter’s Web site.)

RG has twice printed stories about this unique homeless shelter, affiliated with the Church of Cosmas and Damian in Moscow, one of whose parishioners originally established the shelter. An attempt had already been made a year ago to close the shelter. Read more…

Celebrations at Big Change

FHM members Natasha and Patricia visited this year’s graduation ceremony at the charitable foundation “Big Change”.

Big Change takes young people who have been brought up in orphanages, often with little or no education, and gives them the knowledge and life skills to cope in the real world.  FHM has been supporting their programme to develop a Resource Centre, so that they can share their expertise with teachers, social workers and psychologists throughout Russia.

The achievements of the Big Change graduates make heartwarming reading.  Find the full story here.

Visit to the Solzhenitsyn Foundation

Pat and Natasha at the Foundation

By Patricia Stewart

On June 19, Natasha and I spent more than two hours at the Solzhenitsyn Foundation in Moscow. The Foundation is properly called The Alexander Solzhenitsyn Memorial House of Russian Abroad. It was founded 17 years ago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn; his widow is on their board. The Foundation is also partly supported by the city of Moscow.

The Foundation hosts conferences, exhibitions, lectures, films and occasionally concerts, publishes a wide range of texts and is building an archive of material relating to the activity, usually to the literary activity, of Russians outside Russia. Read more…

Annual Report and Accounts 2011

The Friends House Moscow annual report and accounts for 2011 is now available, and can be viewed or downloaded by clicking here.