Work in 2010

Another full and successful year, thanks to the quality of our partnerships and the generosity of our supporters. We continued our work in two main areas. The first is outreach, the effort to have a Quaker presence in Russia. This also includes our communication with other inter-religious initiatives and individuals. The second is projects and co-operation with other NGOs. We supported fourteen projects, seven of which benefitted from the Molly Bown legacy. Sadly, this fund has now been fully used up and most of our support for children will come to an end unless we can find alternative funding.

Projects

Alternative Service
We have assisted with the distribution of Al’ternativshchik, the newsletter for conscientious objectors. We have been in close contact with most CO activists in Russia. Natasha Zhuravenkova and Pat Stewart went to Kazan in May to meet with Gherman Alyotkin, who edits the newsletter, and we discussed some possible directions for raising awareness of alternative service in Russia. We also visited the Video Activist Project in Kazan.

Alternatives To Violence Project (AVP)
Our core project was AVP in Russia, including Moscow, Lipetsk, Dzerzhinsk, Dagestan, Southern Russia, and also in Ukraine, including programmes in Odessa, Lvov, Kharkov, and the Crimea.
We supported AVP Russia with funding and meeting space for workshops. The number of active facilitators has increased slightly. The work has had good results and if more funding were available the work could be spread to more regions. AVP Ukraine has been able to work in prisons. Collaboration between AVP teams remains good. A natural result of this collaboration was a general conference of facilitators in October 2010 in Moscow. Facilitators have published new materials (exercises) for the manual. These have been used successfully for several years.
AVP work in South Ossetia was not easy, but did have some good results. AVP work has also begun in Georgia.
All these AVP projects are funded solely by FHM.

Mediation in Schools
School Reconciliation Services work in Moscow operated in eight branches. The project started work on new reconciliation services in schools and social centres in new cities. There were several conferences to spread information about reconciliation processes, including the All-Russia Conference held in Moscow in June. These reconciliation strategies reduce the frequency of reprisals from criminals involved in conflicts. FHM funded training workshops and seminars.

Mental health
A three-day workshop was held on cognitive behavioural therapy, and the presenter was Dr. Sara Tai. This is a technique used with psychotic patients, an underserved population in Russia and one deprived of many human rights. It provides an alternative to conventional medical interventions. The introductory day took place in a clinic where they come to for medical care. Both specialists and carers were in this session. Then the workshop continued in the Institute of Psychology and Psychoanalysis, where the participants were the specialists alone. Up to fifty people participated each day. This workshop was funded through an appeal to British Quakers.

Big Change
We continued our co-operation with Big Change, an organization that offers additional educational opportunities, community support and life skills for former and current residents of orphanages. We funded the work of creating a network of these types of groups in different parts of Russia so that Big Change can share its methods with workers in other regions. In 2010 Big Change provided a 40-hour seminar, “Making Individual Educational Programs for Students” for twenty people from Novosibirsk, St Petersburg, Moscow and Saratov. Big Change also held a 36-hour-long seminar called “Creating Educational Projects” for professionals who work with orphans. Three manuals have been written for professionals who are too far away to take part in the seminars; Big Change hopes to print these manuals in January. Another achievement is the creation of a database of 46 NGOs across Russia who may be interested in doing the kind of service Big Change provides. They will use the database for continued networking. Lastly, Big Change created four “how-to” videos on providing a social and educational environment, individual educational programs, creating community centres, and developing a self-study program.

My New Family (Dzerzhinsk)
On this project 104 foster parents took part in training workshops and seminars, 109 children were involved in care groups, 30 children participated in the New Year party, 9 children received full fitness sessions, 18 children went to the circus with their foster parents, 3 teenagers were assisted with temporary employment, and 29 parents received individual counselling with psychologists. Thirty specialists from pre-school institutions and 15 school psychologists participated in practical workshops.
Two round tables on working with foster children and on the project were conducted. A booklet I am in the world; the world is in me was published and distributed among foster parents. A guidebook for guardians and parents is in progress.
Two exhibitions of the children’s work were organized.
Five foster parents received legal advice on various issues and one received the assistance of a lawyer.

Help for Children with Cancer
Over 20 children were given support for their cancer treatment.

Educational Support for Migrant Children
Work is under way to overcome the educational deficiencies of these students and they are making progress. The project helped students get school placements.
The elementary school program is being developed. During this academic year the project began work with adult migrants. We started a special programme of Russian as a foreign language for Afghan refugees. The Centre also placed some adult migrants (originally from Africa) in the free Russian language courses offered by the Moscow Department of Education.
The psychology programme has been successful. The children who took part became more open, more communicative, and less aggressive in their relationships with their parents. Their relationships with their schoolmates became easier, and their motivation in school improved. Steps were taken to resolve the legal status of some of the students, who were directed to lawyers, unfortunately with no concrete results yet.
The staff undertook evaluations. They also established more frequent contact with Etnosfera, a centre for multicultural education, and with the Moscow Department of Education.

The Circle
This project continues to provide rehabilitation and social integration of special needs children through therapeutic use of theatre and art. An exhibition of photos made by tparticipants was held in the United Nations Information Centre in Moscow.
The project successfully presented two new dramatic shows in December in Moscow. The Outlook was staged in the famous Shchukin Theatre Institute. Narcissus and Christopher was staged in the New Art Theatre (the story was written by an autistic boy, who also narrated it on the stage, accompanied by dancing and singing by children and young people with special needs). An international workshop on “Special Theatre Technologies” was held at the Central House of Artists in Moscow.

Additional information on most of these projects can be found on the under the Projects menu.

Outreach

Quaker education
A ten-week on-line study course was provided this year. There were both Friends and seekers among the participants. There is a waiting list for a future course.
We put on an exhibition in Samara of the sketches done by Richard Kilbey, one of the Quaker relief team who responded to the famine of 1921-3.
Our forum at quakers.ru and our presence in the Live Journal community continue to work well and with good participation. Sometimes there are telephone enquiries about Quakerism. We regularly receive requests for Quaker books and materials from seekers in Russia and former countries of the USSR. Materials have been sent to the Ukraine, St Petersburg, Siberia, and the Russian Far East.
EMES is planning a Russian-Speaking Gathering in 2011 and Natasha Zhuravenkova has joined the working group.

Translations
The last (and the longest) chapter of Britain Yearly Meeting’s Quaker Faith and Practice is very close to completion.
We have received permission to translate eight further Quaker books that were approved at the last Board meeting, and work has begun on four of these.

This has been a year of uplifting work.

Sergei Grushko, Natasha Zhuravenkova, Lynn Chakoian,
abridged by Wendy Bartlett