This note was received June 6th from Irina Shipley. For many years now, Irina and Michael having been assisting older [mostly] boys at the Children’s Center in Chernovsky, a town 30 minutes from Chita.
Dear Tom and other members of the Siberian Bridges organization!
Here is an update and a short analysis of our work and relationships with the kids from the orphanage, which you kindly support with funds.
During the second half of the school year it became more clear to us what difficult time kids have this first year when they are out of the orphanage. And how critical it is to have some support.
Firstly, they are not ready to meet many of their basic physical needs. How to cook, where and what clothes to buy, how to manage the little money they get from the government (which they don’t get regularly by the way). Then there is a question of simple discipline, to get up on time, to follow the schedule and so on. And finally there are questions which all young people are facing – attitudes to smoking, alcohol, computer games.
We see that most of the boys with whom we are working are managing ok. Out of eight main participants only two are having troubles managing their studies and personal matters. Others have their own up and downs, but they are trying and are ready to get support, advice, and help.
Some words about Vitya, the one who is interested in art. He had been attending local art school regularly up until April. Then his work load at college increased, and he felt overwhelmed. He continued to attend classes but not as regularly. At the same time now he is going through a 3-week course to prepare to work as a train attendant/porter in summer. He will still be trying to enter the Art College, but if he doesn’t pass the entrance exam, he will continue studying at the college where he is studying at the present and decide what to do about art further. He is trying to stay active, goes on bike rides when time permits, and in general seems happy.
One boy named Anton showed some interest in playing the piano (I think we mentioned it in the previous report). We made arrangements with a piano teacher and now he is having piano lessons once a week and tries to practice between the lessons. He seems to enjoy it. And we feel good about it because Anton has shown signs of addiction to video games, and we are trying to encourage him to do other things which will eventually bring more satisfaction and help him to develop as a person.
There are other kids and there is a story behind each one. Maybe those will be the subject for the next letter.
Thank you again for your support, and hope to see Tom and other friends in Chita this summer.