Russian children in orphanages suffer from detachment syndrome because they have no family members to bond with. Furthermore, the orphanages are severely understaffed, so the nurses have little or no time to hold the children or to interact with them beyond feeding time and bath time. Consequently, the children’s emotional development and socialization are stunted.
At the same time, many retired Russians are dealing with loneliness and poverty. They may be living on very small pensions that do not increase with inflation. They also may have lost their spouses, been abandoned by their adult children, or simply have no known living relatives. Nonetheless, they have a lifetime of accumulated wisdom and experiences to share.
Grandma (and Grandpa!) Mentoring Program
In The Grandma Mentoring Program we match up retired “grandmas and grandpas” with local orphanages where children are starved for attention. We send them to “love on” the children—to play games, to do craft projects, to tell stories, to read together, to teach songs, and to enjoy any number of activities together.
This is a great program because it not only solves a very pressing problem for the children, but also gives our needy and retired parishioners some additional income. For $60 a month we can send a grandma or grandpa into an orphanage for several hours each week.
This program was suggested by Americans who have adopted children at orphanages in our area. They say that the kids, in addition to needing more and better food, also need more socialization.
The program is now functioning at all three of the orphanages we help—Baby Hospital #3 in Vladivostok, and the orphanages in Artyom and Ussurysk. At Hospital #3, grandmas are allowed to take the kids on excursions in the city. Incredibly, some of the children had never been off the property. Others had never seen the ocean, even though Vladivostok is a coastal city!
All grandmas are interviewed and screened by our Caritas staff in Vladivostok. They also must meet the approval of the State Social Services Department and the orphanage administration. In general, they prefer to visit orphanages that are close to where they live and they cover their own transportation costs. To read an account by an American “grandpa” see newsletter No. 74.
If you wish to sponsor a grandma on a monthly basis, contact the mission office.
To donate to the program or to help one of the orphanages through our Caritas program, click the Donate button below.