How are you at laundry? Do you let clean clothes pile up on your floordrobe? Maybe you’re heading to uni in September and you’ll have do your own laundry for the first time. But if you get stuck using a washing machine there’s always someone to help, right?
Lyosha grew up in an orphanage in Russia. At the orphanage there was a sock bin where he and the other children would pick out a pair of socks each morning. At the end of the day Lyosha would put them in a different bin. That was the whole process as far as he knew.
When Lyosha turned 16 he had to move out of the orphanage. One day Lyosha’s Mentor Slava came to visit him at his new Transition Home and noticed socks in the rubbish bin. Lyosha had never been taught about the washing process that went on between the evening sock bin and the morning one. All his life he’d believed socks were simply thrown away after use.
It’s a far cry from the lives that most of us are used to. Teenagers leave orphanages unprepared for independent living. Washing clothes, basic hygiene, preparing and shopping for food are all totally new experiences. These vulnerable young adults have also never been told about subjects like drugs, alcohol, sex education and crime.
Growing up in a home with usually at least 50 other children means that they are not given individual love and support, and bullying is a huge problem. At age 16 they have to leave. They have no one to turn to, and no help finding a home, college place or job. Most end up homeless.
This is where the charity Love Russia is doing amazing work. Their Christian Mentoring program really changes lives. These Mentors run fun activities in orphanages to show the children they are loved and to discourage bullying. They teach the teenagers how to wash themselves, do laundry, cook and clean – generally being the parents they never had.
Love Russia has helped to acquire 3 transition homes (including where Lyosha lives) for orphanage leavers to have a safe first place whilst they search for a more permanent home. They run The Genesis Project which gives orphan teenagers a bursary to help get them through college and their Mentors can help them apply for college places.
I have visited Russia several times and have helped run Summer camps for the some of the incredible young people and families that Love Russia supports. I’m constantly in admiration of the brilliant work they do. But they always need more help, more people and more resources!
If you’re interested in doing a fundraiser or getting involved in a Summer camp like I did then you can email them to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org