Work in 2009

Alternatives to Violence Project

AVP Russia continued work in the army, in spite of some difficulties with access to the military base. The themes of the workshops there included Co-operation and Instructions.

AVP Russia continued to use the FHM office for its Moscow workshops. Themes included Loneliness, The Tree of Life, Life and Destiny, and To Speak and to Have Spoken, to Listen and to Hear. At times workshops were held almost every weekend, and numerous presentations were given at conferences and meetings, such as the Moscow Fair of Volunteeers’ Projects. Workshops were given in Lipetsk (one of them with difficult teenagers), Dzerzhinsk, St Petersburg, and Makhachkala (Dagestan).
AVP Ukraine continued its work with teenagers in schools, at prison colonies for young offenders and at the Odessa Women’s Detention Centre. As well as basic workshops, thematic workshops were held, including Increasing Self-Esteem and Leadership. The project was also promoted in Kharkov (East Ukraine).

In May two facilitators visited South Ossetia to find out whether it would be possible to set up AVP projects in this hot spot in the Caucasus. The facilitators met with religious leaders, school teachers, local media reporters, and NGO activists. The majority of the people they met were enthusiastic about the possibility of AVP workshops. Some useful contacts were made, and fund-raising will be necessary.

Alternativshchik newsletter

FHM decided to fund some of the distribution costs to extend the coverage of the newsletter in 2010.

Video Activist

A group of social activists in Kazan started a project providing free film screenings for young people, followed by discussion of the film’s major themes. The discussions prompt the audience to make use of the information they have received as well as to draw on their own experiences. The standard audience is about 20 people. This has led to an increase in youth activism. German Alyotkin, the project leader reported that the landlord of the building where the meetings were held was instructed by the Kazan Militia (Extremism) not to allow the group to use the building. The group viewed this as a sign that they were being noticed, and found a new venue.

Mediation in Schools

In Moscow School Reconciliation Services were ongoing in three schools, and three new schools started, after workshops were given for teachers and students. A mediation course was held for children in school No. 1605, and mediation sessions conducted by pupils were supervised in three other schools.

A workshop on School Reconciliation Services was held for senior teachers from the Central District, supported by the Moscow Education Department and 200 people participated. A professional body, the Association of Mediators and Supervisers of School Reconciliation Services was established in Moscow, began holding meetings, planned future activities, and published a booklet.
The Centre for Reconciliation and Justice held a Round Table in the Federal Institute for the Development of Education on The Practice of Distribution of Restorative Techniques in the Perm Region. It also made video films entitled Restorative Justice in Russia and The School Mediation Service, the former with English subtitles.

Help for Children in Foster Care

My New Family (Dzerzhinsk) completed a one-year programme for foster families. It also produced a booklet called I Am at Peace and Peace is in Me, funded by FHM. Nina Kamina (the project coordinator) reported: “1055 foster parents have participated in the various aspects of the project: 42 people have taken part in seminars and other training; 39 people have had individual consultations with a psychologist; 27 people took part in the Theatre Forum; 25 people took part in organising a celebration for the children; 11 people accompanied the children to the circus and more than 911 people attended lectures on various themes. 375 people sponsored children so that they could attend the following events: 82 children attended training classes; 31 children had individual consultations with a psychologist; 27 children took part in the Theatre Forum; 30 children attended the celebration organised by the foster parents; 20 children went to the circus and 185 teenagers attended lectures. 45 volunteers and 8 inspectors from the Department of Fostering helped to carry out the project. Social workers visited 11 foster families. The project has received positive feedback both from the head of the Department of Fostering at the city administration and foster parents themselves. The relationship between the foster parents and the children has improved. This can be traced from the foster parents’ desire to bring up the children as their own. Their relationship with their support network (e.g. the Department of Fostering, school etc.) has likewise changed. The foster parents have become less demanding. This has meant that the parent-child relationship has also improved: mutual understanding; calmness and consistency; confidence and self-respect have all increased. One example of the changed relationship between foster parent and child is the story of a girl in the 10th class who was previously on the verge of failure. Having attended training, seminars and individual mentoring, her foster parents were able to change their relationship to the child, and better understand what their duties were, which enabled them in turn to help the girl, who herself started attending courses etc. run by My New Family. As a result the girl passed the 10th class as well as getting herself a summer job. She also got on better with her foster parents and her teachers. All the work was carried out in the strictest confidentiality”.

Rehabilitation for Children with Special Needs

The Circle (Krug) KRUG continued to run its theatre and art programmes for children, teenagers and young people with special needs. It also ran its summer gathering, which was enjoyed by about 70 people, including the brothers, sisters, parents and carers of the children and young people. FHM paid for ten children to go to the summer camp for three weeks.
The Circle organised a Round Table, entitled Cultural Activities and the Integration of People with Disabilities: Problems and Perspectives, in the United Nations Information Center in Moscow. The event attracted representatives from the Moscow authorities, scientists, theatre and museum workers, psychologists, teachers, lawyers, journalists and so on.

Big Change

The programme covers each school subject, and also independent-study skills and independent living. Of the 249 lessons given in 6 months, 104 were funded by FHM. FHM funded three girls to take part in this project and they passed exams in Chemistry and Geography, and one of them also passed Biology. The girls then began preparing for applying to further education colleges.

Big Change lost their premises, but were aware that suitable new premises would allow them to be recognised as a certified educational establishment. They were fortunate to find new premises, offered by a businessman who intended to sell the site but has postponed the sale for five years. This is a former kindergarten, used as recently as a bank. There is more space than Big Change needs at the moment and therefore room to develop. Fund-raising then began to raise money to buy premises. Donors bought a brick!

Educational Support for Migrant Children

The school now has 40 students taking lessons at the school, including some pre-school children who are taught the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. 1505 lessons were given over the last 6 months. Some of the teaching is designed to increase the children’s self-confidence and this teaching is led by psychologists. In addition the Centre organised trips for the children to a butterfly exhibition, the Pushkin Museum, and the Museum of Eastern Peoples and 10 students went on a 6-day trip to St Petersburg. There are now over 70 volunteers, who are supported by seminars, meetings and training. As well as teaching the children, volunteers also help organise the necessary documentation for registering in Moscow schools.

Translation of Quaker Literature

Translations were made of materials for Woodbrooke Quaker Study Center’s on-line course Quakers in Europe and of the subtitles for the DVD An Introduction to Quakers at Watford Friends Meeting House.