This summer has been quite an exciting one for us; it being the first time that we have worked from the new centre for teenagers, ‘Love’s Bridge’, and also the end of the first full year of working with younger teenagers who are at risk of ending up on the streets. Our main aim for the summer months has been to provide a variety of outdoor activities for the young people who have been visiting our centers over the last year. Since the middle of June kids and young people have taken part in five summer camps, and several more have been planned for the remaining summer period.
Our teachers Lena and Lyuba told us about their out-door adventures with a group of underprivileged teenagers:
“In the middle of June we gathered together a group of kids who have been visiting the centre over the course of the year to go on a camping trip. We left the centre like a happy family, excited about the prospect of escaping the city. We didn’t have to go very far to find a peaceful and beautiful location by a small lake. We decided to completely escape from the other campers, and walked to the far side of the lake. The kids set about building our temporary home- putting up tents, organizing a kitchen area and building a camp-fire. With the combined efforts of our enthusiastic team, the work was quickly done and the kids ran down to the lake for a swim before dark. The rest of the evening was spent sitting around the camp fire, singing songs, playing games, telling stories and jokes.
The next day we were treated to almost constant rain, although this was not enough to dampen the enthusiasm of our happy campers! The boys were up at 6am in order to catch our breakfast. The girls were awoken to the sound and smell of cooked fish! The rest of the day was spent resting and relaxing with games and stories to pass the time. By evening the rain had cleared up and the kids had some more time to swim before a supper of grilled sausages and hot tea. The camping trip flew by so quickly that no-one wanted to leave the next morning. As we packed away our camp we could all agree on one thing – this would be our first camping trip but certainly not our last.”
IN THE DEEP END…
This year we arranged a very special trip for a group of thirteen older street teenagers with whom we have been working for many years now. For the older street youth, giving up addictions and returning home gets harder and harder as time goes on, and kids from this group had spent between five and ten years living on the streets. We were hoping that the trip would provide the much-needed inspiration to help them begin to make changes in their lifestyles. The rafting trip demanded the group to really come together and work as a team alongside volunteers and staff- although the first couple of days were long and hard, the group soon began to work together and a real sense of team spirit developed between us all. Many of the participants have been heavily dependent on substances for years now, so the positive effects of not using substances soon became apparent. A combination of fresh air, exercise and regular meals also induced changes in many of the participants, who took to the task of rafting down one of the Perm region’s major rivers with great zeal. For many of the teens it was the first time in years that they had been outside the city, and we all enjoyed taking in some of the beauty spots of the Ural countryside – cliff climbing and cave exploring were two of the main highlights off the water.
Over the course of the trip the sense of team spirit only improved, and individual changes in the teens also took place. Some talked about going back home for the first time in years, and others started making plans for going back to work or studies. After a whole week of being with the teenagers solidly it was difficult to finally go our separate ways at the train station, especially knowing where some of the teens were going back to. But we felt sure that all the participants had taken something positive from the trip. We weren’t wrong – following the trip one boy returned home and started working, one boy moved back in with his grandparents, and one girl started resolving the problems with her documents. More importantly, we shared the experience as a team and got to see just how inspiring even our most difficult teenagers can be.
Outdoor activities are well acknowledged forms of rehabilitation in the West, and if you would like to contribute towards developing this pioneering project, then please get in touch with the Love’s Bridge project coordinators at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHILD PROTECTION DAY
Our work on improving awareness amongst the locals in Perm of the problems of underprivileged youth and street children continues, and this year we decided to once again organize a publicity campaign in the city’s central park on international child protection day. As well as giving out leaflets and talking to passers-by about the work we do, we also displayed an array of crafts and greetings cards handmade by kids visiting our centers, and also collected donations for the project from passers-by. Our multi-talented staff and volunteers also made balloon sculptures and offered face-painting in return for a donation towards the project. Despite the cool weather and constant threat of rain, the campaign was an enormous success, and we managed to talk to many people about the project, and explain how people can help. The donations collected went towards organizing summer activities for the young people visiting our centers. Great thanks to all those staff, volunteers and kids who made this event such a success! If you would like to find out how you can take part in Love’s Bridge projects, please see how you can help.
FUN WAYS TO RAISE FUNDS
At Love’s Bridge we are always looking for new and interesting ways to raise awareness and also raise funds for the project. Several months ago an idea came up to organize a charity meal, and a few weeks ago we were delighted to host our first dinner guests at the Love’s Bridge center! The guests were employees and visitors to the Washington Group in Perm, and were offered a comprehensive introduction to homemade Russian cuisine – home pickled cucumbers followed by the traditional salad ‘herring in a overcoat’, the customary red soup ‘borsch’, home-made ‘pelmeni’ (dumplings stuffed with meat) and to round off the meal, Russian style pancakes served with cream and jam. The meal was an ideal opportunity for our guests to sample Russian culinary culture and find out more about Love’s Bridge and our projects here in Perm. Many thanks to all those who took part in the meal, which we hope to be repeating again in the future.
If you are interested in organizing a fund-raising meal for Love’s Bridge, or any other fund-raising event, then please write to us and we will be more than happy to help you with ideas, support and even a menu! – email@example.com.
As you may know we have been very lucky to have several short-term volunteers helping out on the project over the last year, and in June we said ‘do svidaniya’ to our Dutch volunteer Iris, who has been volunteering for us since January. Volunteers are an extremely valuable part of the project, and Iris will be long remembered for her enthusiasm and dedication to the kids here! Thank you, Iris!
Thankfully we were not left too long without volunteers, and other than the regular volunteers from local universities, we also had US student Elizabeth volunteer a month of her time for the kids here. Despite the short period of her stay, she had a very positive impact on both kids and staff here. Thank you, Elizabeth!
We are now happy to welcome Roz, a British student who will be helping out with our summer activities for the whole of August.
We are hugely grateful to all the volunteers that take part in the project here in Perm. Every one makes a valuable contribution towards the successes of Love’s Bridge, and, more importantly, to the lives of the children in Perm! Volunteers are long talked of after they leave the project, which goes to show what an impression you leave behind.
If you are interested in volunteering for Love’s Bridge, either from your own home town, or here in Perm, then please write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will suggest how you can get involved!
In January we completed the first Independent Living Course of the year! The group of teenagers taking part was from a municipal shelter. The teens had spent the last three months with our teacher, psychologist and social worker preparing for independent adult life. The teenagers, all of whom had previously run away from home due to problems in the family, soon settled into the course and began to address many issues which particularly affect street youth. Over the course of three months they learnt many new skills which will help them progress towards a healthy, independent life, free from addictions and aware of the importance of studying and working.
On graduation day the group were rewarded for their progress and treated to a trip to the countryside! They had snowball fights, enjoyed a winter barbeque and sledded all afternoon. We hope that their memories of the course will stay with them for a long time, and help them get a good start in adult life.
In February we started the second Independent Living course of the year! Now we have a group of teenagers from a local correctional school taking part. The new group of students is from extremely underprivileged backgrounds – they are already running away from home, drinking, smoking, getting involved in criminal activity and missing a lot of school.
HOLLYWOOD COMES TO PERM
At the beginning of March we were visited by a two volunteers who came to make a film about the young people who visit our centers. Jake Mobbs, a director and editor, and Nicolas Doldinger, -camera operator, spent two weeks with Love’s Bridge, and got a very close view of Russian street youth and the problems they face. As well as filming the activities in both our centers, and visiting some of our more successful graduates at home and at work, Jake and Nicolas spent time in the basements and sewers were many of our young people still live. Although filming conditions were often difficult, the results will play an important role in depicting the lives of youth on the streets, and raising support for the project. We will inform all of our supporters when the film is going to be shown.
We also had professional photographer Lorena Ros volunteering on project and taking wonderful portraits of our children and teenagers both at the centers, at home, and on the streets. All the kids involved were very excited at the prospect of becoming famous, and we look forward to displaying the photos and film later this year!
Enormous thanks to Jake, Nicolas and Lorena for volunteering their time and energy to our project!
As you may know, Russians take their holidays very seriously, and Easter is no exception! The week before lent is called ‘maslenitsa’, and the week is spent preparing for lent by eating lots of… pancakes! On the last day of maslenitsa kids and staff wrapped up warm to brave the cold (-22 degrees Celcius!) and celebrate the festival in one of the city parks. The kids took part in traditional Russian games, watched dancing displays, theater performances, and, of course, ate plenty of pancakes!
In the end of December we welcomed a new volunteer to the project. Iris, 21, from Holland, is taking a break from her psychology degree in Leiden to work with our underprivileged and homeless children for six months. Iris has already worked with children in Holland and Moldova, and wanted to come to Russia to try and help youngsters on the streets, and learn about life in Russia at the same time.
Although she expected that it would be far from easy, Iris soon got to grips with the project and got to know the kids in our care. In fact Iris found it much more difficult getting used to the Russian cold than getting used to the street kids! She also found that some Russian people have negative attitudes towards the problems of underprivileged youth. Many Perm residents believe that youngsters living on the streets have only themselves to blame for their situation, and as a result street youth are often victimized and ostracized in society. Iris, like us, thinks that street children need dedicated care, attention and love in order to break their addictions, and become healthy and independent adults.
We always welcome volunteers to the project – if you are interested in coming to Perm and helping out, then please write to us at email@example.com for more information!
GIRLS NIGHT IN
Over the years of working with street children and teenagers we have observed that we see more success stories with boys than with girls. Girls often face many more problems on the streets than boys do – they are much more vulnerable of being abused or attacked, and are at high risk of getting pregnant, which leads to many additional complications and trauma. Girls are also much more likely to get involved in prostitution and run a high risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases. These strains have a detrimental effect on both mental and physical health, so we decided to organize ‘girls only’ events that would boost morale, increase self-confidence and, most importantly, teach the girls the importance of looking after their health and well-being.
This month we were very fortunate to have a beautician come and volunteer her time at the ‘girls’ night in’, and teach the girls about the importance of looking after their skin, and how to apply make-up properly. After a demonstration and question-and-answer session, we moved on to the second part of the evening – an introduction to Arabian dancing! As well as helping the girls develop their confidence, the dancing helps them keep fit and youthful! Now the girls can come to dancing classes once a week in our new center. Most importantly, we have been able to build up trust with the girls who took part, and they know that they have somewhere to turn to in times of need.
OUR NEW CENTER IS OFFICIALLY OPENED!
As you know, the last few months have been dominated by the renovations of our property on 58 Chkalova Street; the site of our shelter for the last five years, and now the new home of our activity and help center for underprivileged teenagers and street children. Finally we can finally announce that the work is complete and our doors have been opened to the young people of Perm! It was an enormous task getting the center ready – new water pipes, compete re-wiring, and painting and decorating most of the rooms. The new, bright, colorful center is now welcoming many children and teenagers, both old faces and new! We are extremely grateful to all those who helped us make this project possible – those who provided materials, financial as well as moral support in this long and difficult task!
On the 22nd December we welcomed kids, staff, volunteers and sponsors to the official opening of the Love’s Bridge Center. We were very pleased that we were able to complete the work in time for the New Year’s celebrations. As well as plenty of festive activities in the new center, the kids were treated to a trip to an New Year’s ice-skating gala at Perm’s main ice rink, visits to Perm’s beautiful ice sculptures, as well as sledging trips in the countryside and plenty of New Year’s gifts and surprises. The visitors to the day shelter on Pushkina Street were not left out of the celebrations, and were welcomed with plenty of New Year’s activities, hot tea, cake and gifts.
A NEW LIFE
We would like to share with you the story of one teenager who we have been working with over the last year.
Andrei T. is nineteen, and first came to our day shelter early in 2006. As he began to come quite regularly we found out about his difficult past. Andrei is a graduate from a children’s home. Both his parents died from alcohol related diseases when he was very small, and due to his difficult personality he was treated badly in the children’s home and was regularly sent to the psychiatric hospital for his ‘behavioral difficulties’ .Having left at the age of 18, he was given all his orphan benefits (saved up since he had lived in the institution from a very young age) in the form of a savings book. Like the majority of children’s home graduates, Andrei was given no guidance in how to look after this money, and as a result he spent all of it within a few weeks, leaving him with nothing to live on, let alone save for the future. He was on the verge of homelessness when we met him, and had no idea how to resolve his financial problems; his addiction to gambling machines; or even get a job.
Over the first few months we spent time gaining his trust, and rebuilding his faith in his own abilities. At first progress was slow, but with time and patience Andrei began responding more positively to our program – he took part in our three month “Independent Living” course, and was a keen participant in many other activities. In the summer he went on the ACT graduates summer holiday to the Black Sea, which had an enormous effect on him. On returning, Andrei’s life really changed for the better. With the help of our social worker he began searching for a job, sorting out his documents, and decided that he wanted to go back to school and get a profession. Now he is training to be a shoemaker during the day and working during the evening, so that he can support himself and provide for his future.
TRADITIONAL RUSSIAN PAINTING
In December we began a new and exciting project in our centres – traditional Russian painting. We invited some specialists in the area to come and start thrice-weekly classes with the teenagers at the ACT centre and at the day shelter “Children without a Home”. The students learnt all about the traditional style of painting that is very specific to this part of Russia, and began learning the basic designs and patterns that are used. To start with we worked only on paper, but as the kids skills developed, we moved onto working with ceramics, wooden artifacts from the woodwork shop. The progress displayed by the kids was incredible – some of them had never even held a paintbrush in their lives! The project attracted many kids (as well as volunteers and staff!), and the artists moved on to painting furniture and traditional Russian toys. The final and most exciting part of the project was the make-over of the kids’ room at the day shelter.
Children and teenagers who visit us at the center are now welcomed by a beautiful display of traditional Russian artwork, and all the participants can feel proud that they took part in the creation of this wonderful exhibition! We plan to continue this project at the new “Love’s Bridge” center and involve even more children and teenagers.
As you may know, we left the ACT center property in November due to the dispute that was going on over the property. We were all extremely sad to leave, as we had been working in the center for quite a few years, and many young people had got used to coming to us there. We feel lucky that we are able to continue our work at the new “Love’s Bridge” center on Chkalova Street, and hope that the teenagers will get used to this change, and continue coming to visit us as always. There are still many children and young people in Perm who are in desperate need of help and support, and we are looking forward to many more years of working with them to break the cycle of poverty and enable them to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
In June we began a new project which involves younger teenagers who are still going to school, but are at risk of ending up on the streets or becoming involved with substance abuse. Lyuba, our psychologist, designed a two-week course specifically for this “at-risk” group. The course covers subjects such as alcohol and substance abuse, problems in the family and problems with studies and peers. It focuses on the importance of taking responsibility for your own health and well-being, and encourages the participants to take control of their own future by making positive decisions. The first group learned about the effects that toxic substances have on the body, and in particular enjoyed the exercise “How to say NO to substances!” The children were all quite open, most said they had already tried some substances and many of them had no idea of the long-term effects of substance abuse. We were very proud when the children got involved with the local voluntary organization “Memorial” and helped display a 200 meter long “Patchwork for Peace” at the Perm carnival. We look forward to seeing many more successes in preventing these at-risk children from ending up on the streets.
UPDATES ON SHELTER GRADUATES
As you may know, the teenagers living in our shelter have been preparing for graduation these last six months – finishing school and college, receiving their professional training certificates and starting work. Here are some individual updates:
- Slava B. (17) has moved in to a flat with relatives in the center of Perm, and is continuing his studies at the practical training college. We have been trying to arrange this for some time now, so are very pleased that some of Slava’s relatives are cooperating with us. Slava is very proud of his newly found independence, and visits us to give us updates every week.
- Vova B. (17) moved into his communal apartment provided by his orphanage in July. He is enjoying independent life immensely, and needed no encouragement in finding himself a job after the summer holiday. He is working on a construction site during the week, and spends the weekends rollerblading and cycling.
- Vanya G. (15) has moved into a government shelter which we work very closely with. Vanya has on-going problems with his documents (as he is Ukrainian by birth), which the local authorities are currently trying to resolve. We are trying to resolve Vanya’s problems at home, and get in touch with his mother in the Ukraine, so that Vanya can be reunited with his family.
- Dima S. (16) has been re-united with his family! After several visits by our social worker, Dima’s grandmother agreed to take him back, and give him a fresh start, and Dima agreed to come back to his grandmother. So now he is living in his home town of Nizhnii Tagil.
- Vlad Ts. (18), finally finished practical training college this year, and received his professional diploma, which is an enormous source of pride for both us and Vlad. He can now work as a painter and plasterer, earn a decent wage and support himself. He hasn’t committed to one job yet, but is looking for something suitable, and also looking for a place for himself to live, as he has problems living in his mother’s flat.
- Alyosha S. (17) also managed to complete his education, and in June received his professional diploma. He can now get a job as a baker. We have also been cooperating successfully with Alyosha’s step mother (who fortunately still cares about him, despite the fact that his children’s home is legally responsible for him). Together we are currently helping him find a place to live by himself, as it is impossible for him to live at home due to his relationship with his stepfather, and he regularly runs away from his children’s home.
We wanted to make sure that the last summer for the shelter boys would be one to remember, so organized a variety of trips and events that would give them the energy and enthusiasm to persevere with their progress. After camping and rafting trips, the boys joined local Perm volunteers in renovation projects on historical buildings. At the end of July the boys were rewarded for their progress over the year with a trip to southern Russia. The boys spent some time picking fruit, and also had plenty of time for swimming, sunbathing, sports activities and visiting the sights of the beautiful south.
This year we were offered the fantastic opportunity of taking a group of ACT graduates on a summer holiday! A group of teenagers were gathered who had made progress over the course of the year – finding a job, sorting out documents, living at home or going back to school. We stayed for 10 days by the Black Sea, and also visited the Crimea. The kids had never left the Perm region, so the sight of the sea was a real treat for them. We would like to say a big thank you to Julian Connor for providing this wonderful opportunity for our kids!
VOLUNTEERS AND VISITORS
We have had plenty of visits and extra helping hands over the last few months – British volunteer Jake came for three weeks in June, and helped out with the new groups of younger underprivileged teenagers we are working with. Then in July Christina and Mike Greenberg came from the USA to help with preparations for the new project, and catch up with the kids. Later in August we welcomed French volunteer Phillipe to the project, who helped us with the shelter renovations, and even had time to take some kids to the local shelter for homeless dogs to help out there!
We are also very pleased that we have recruited several Russian volunteers over the last few months! Local students (mostly training to be social workers and psychologists) have been helping run an evening youth club, which is open to kids from all three centers. Such social events are really important for our kids, as they not only keep them off the streets, but help them improve their social skills and personal conduct. Interaction with people their own age also helps our teenagers make positive changes in their lives.
If you are interested in volunteering for Love’s Bridge, then please get in touch! If you are unable to come to the project in Perm, then there are many other ways to help out.
Thanks to the many generous donations of our supporters both locally and abroad, the renovations at the shelter are now fully under way! The leaks that have been plaguing the shelter over the last few years should finally be at an end, as the premises boasts a beautiful new set of water pipes! Now we are beginning with structural work, tiling, and a brand new bathroom for the new center. We are also very grateful to our dedicated team of staff and volunteers (including some of our kids!), who are helping us complete this enormous job.
We do not yet have all the resources needed to complete the renovations so we are counting on the continued generosity of our supporters and sponsors. In order to complete the renovation work and start the new project we still need to raise a further $10,000. If you would like to find out more about our specific needs, or find out how you can help, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First of all we’d like to tell you about our plans which we have been developing over the last year and which this summer we are hoping to realize. As you may know the street children situation has considerably changed since Love’s Bridge first started working here eight years ago – as a result of our work the local government finally acknowledged the problem of street children, opened municipal shelters, and together we have greatly reduced the number of children living on the streets in Perm.
Our own shelter has helped many former street children return to their previous homes or find a new place to live, and the majority of those who remain are ready to graduate this year. Municipal shelters have improved greatly, and can be very successful with the younger children who come into their care, although their strict rules and lack of freedom mean that they are not so successful with older teens.
We are continuing to successfully work with older underprivileged and street youths aged 16-21 at our ACT center, and we now see the need to expand this side of our work, as well as begin preventative work with younger children who are at severe risk of ending up on the streets. We will work with local schools and orphanages in order to provide early intervention and help children before they give up school, run away from home, start abusing substances or alcohol, or get involved in criminal activities. We believe that to make our work as effective as possible we should be targeting problems as early as we can, and therefore the way that we are going to work in the future is going to change.
We have had many problems keeping the ACT center open in its current location, and we will soon be forced to vacate the premises. Our 24/7 shelter is mostly free during the day, as the children living their study during the day, so we have decided to make the steps towards opening a single center on the current premises of the 24/7 shelter, which combines the services of both the ACT and the 24/7 shelter. Here are some of the services we will offer at the new center:
” All the services currently provided at our ACT center, including legal and job-seeking advice, our course “Independent living and social adaptation”, and consultations with our psychologist.
” We have recently started inviting underprivileged children aged 10-14 from local schools to take part in a short preventative course developed by our psychologist. The course is based around the issues of alcohol, substance and tobacco abuse, resolving family problems and staying in school. We hope to work with many Perm schools, and have so far received a great deal of support and encouragement in this latest venture.
” We have known for a long time that the best way to keep children and young people off the streets is by simply keeping them busy. Unfortunately, the kind of activities which kids in the West would enjoy have become very expensive in Russia, and the government provides very few alternatives. Our new center will provide many different activities and clubs for underprivileged children, diverting their attention from drugs, alcohol and crime.
” The few kids that are still too young to leave the 24/7 shelter will continue to stay with us until we can either resolve the problems with their families, or find a new home for them in Perm. We will keep a part of the center operating as a shelter for the time being, and hope that in the future we will not need to offer a shelter at all. Needless to say, we will still be seeing a lot of the boys who are currently preparing for graduation after they leave, as we keep close contact with all of our shelter graduates from over the years and make sure they keep up their progress as time goes by.
We welcome any support that you can offer us in this exciting period of change for Love’s Bridge – we are always open to suggestions, ideas and any assistance you can offer!
ART AND CRAFT SUCCESSES
The woodwork shop project has been operating for eight months now, and as you may remember, many of the boys taking part had never even handled a piece of wood before, let alone carved anything out of it! Progress over the first few months was slow but steady, as the students learnt how to safely use the tools and machinery, and learn the fundamental turnery skills necessary to create artistic objects. The boys often faced difficulties, and wanted to know everything straight away, but they didn’t give up! Under the guidance of our woodwork teacher (and doctor) Vladimir the boys recently really began to make significant progress in this art. To begin with the boys made simple things such as spatulas and chopping boards. Now they can carve salt cellars, sugar bowls, candlestick holders and small boxes – their level has improved so much that we are now preparing sell the items at local craft fairs.
We were all very proud of Dima S. last week, as he passed his college exams with an overall ‘A’! Dima has been living at our 24/7 shelter since February this year. After he ran away from home he stopped studying for several months, but fortunately he was not on the streets for long enough to get into substance abuse, and as a result he didn’t have too many problems going back to his studies. Now he is an officially qualified mechanic, and has decided to continue his studies in order to become a professional builder-constructor. Well done Dima!!
May was a very busy time for visitors! On the 11th of May many of the children and teenagers that visit or live in our centers prepared for the visit of one of our main sponsors, Julian Conner. Although it was a fleeting visit through Perm, Julian met many of the Love’s Bridge staff and children, and many of the children proudly told their successes and hopes for the future. Our two mothers, Natasha and Masha proudly showed off their babies, and all the children were delighted to receive presents all the way from Switzerland. Two days later there was a second surprise for the staff and children when Dermot Brannick, one of the members of the Love’s Bridge board of directors, came on a visit from Ireland! Dermot spent nearly two weeks helping out with the project, spending time with staff and kids, and even found time to teach an English class with the ACT center kids.
Russia is famous for its holidays and celebrations, and this spring has been no exception. The boys and male staff from the centers celebrated “Men’s Day” with a trip into the forest to play paintball and have a barbeque! The 24/7 shelter director Nikolai told us about the day:
“All the boys living at the shelter were really looking forward to playing paintball – it’s a real treat for our kids! However, getting to play wasn’t that straightforward- the boys had to have ‘gold’ status the whole month through in order to finally get their big reward. All the boys achieved their ‘gold’ status and just couldn’t wait for the great day to come. Vanya was particularly excited, as he has dreamt of paintballing for months and at last his dream came true…
The boys’ eyes lit up when we got to the center and they saw what was in store for them. After receiving some instruction and some safety advice the boys and men donned their masks and protective clothing, got ready and armed with paintball guns and spare ammunition and prepared for battle! We were divided into two teams, with five on each side. Vova attacked from one side but Vanya leapt out and frightened his opponent away. This scene, witnessed by both teams, made everybody realize the seriousness of the situation – it was no longer a game, but a real battle! Soon it wasn’t clear who was on which team, or who was fighting who, every man attacked and defended for himself alone! Gradually the paintballs ran out, and the soldiers grew fewer and fewer…
The game ended. The girls who came with us to cheer welcomed their heroes back with open arms, and Vlad shouted: “Paintball! It’s neither a game, nor a sport: it’s a real-life adventure!”"
Beginning with Easter our staff, children and volunteers have been organizing and taking part in Love’s Bridge publicity events around Perm. Our first few events have taken place on public holidays, when we have given out leaflets to local people about the problem of street children, underprivileged youth, and drug and alcohol abuse. We have also been telling people how they can get involved, support us and help solve these problems. Finding local support for the project is very important for us, and it has also turned out to be a fantastic way to recruit volunteers from local institutes and universities, as well as among our own kids! On Victory Day (May 9), a Russian documentary film about our shelter “Children without a Home” was aired at a local cinema, and staff, volunteers and kids were ready to hand out leaflets and rally support amongst the viewers. On “Child Protection Day” (June 1) volunteers and kids were armed and ready with leaflets in Perm’s central park, raising awareness and also promoting our the dolls and greeting cards that our kids have been making.