The charity started up forty years ago with the clear objective of providing pastoral and material support where it could, to fellow Christians in the Soviet Union, whose families were being oppressed by the state for their Christian beliefs.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, this raison d’être vanished, and the charity turned its hand to providing relief to a variety of people in need in the same geographical area. Ten years ago, it was decided to rationalise this work and concentrate on transforming the lives of disadvantaged children, (mostly) in the European area of the former Soviet Union.
This was to be done by sponsoring projects run by local Christians, aimed at transforming the lives of orphaned or abandoned children or those with learning and physical difficulties who were all more or less ignored by the state and local authorities. This is still broadly what we do. Why do we do it?
The mindset of the Soviet Union held that the people were there to serve the state, and that those who were not capable of service were of no account and should be accorded the minimum of resources and largely ignored - the “put away and forget” mentality.
We believe (along with many others) that the state it there to serve the people. As Christians (along with many non-Christians), we believe that everybody should have the opportunity to live in reasonably decent circumstances and make the most of their potential within the main body of society - the “care for and integrate” mentality.
The old Soviet mindset lingers on in the countries of the former Union, and we believe that those who suffer because of it should be helped, and every effort made to change official attitudes, at both local and state levels. There will always be a need to be met; but most especially when the gulf between Russia and the West grows wider the more important the humanitarian contacts are. Lines of humanitarian help and goodwill, especially when out of the media spotlight and without political or economic motivation can be invaluable.
We work with local project leaders, because only they can properly understand and work in local conditions, and local authorities are more likely to resent rather than be positively influenced by overtly foreign intervention. We work with Christian project leaders because they are more likely to share our values and be responsive to our suggestions for proper governance and administration. We seek to help them with projects which they might find it hard to fund. We believe in setting an example of Christian charity so we insist that individual projects are open to anyone in need, and that, while Christian values can be demonstrated by example, they should never be imposed as a condition of help.
Our aim and mission, therefore, is to support the work of local Christian projects aimed at helping disadvantaged children turn their lives around, so that, as adults, they can lead normal and useful lives, or, where this is not possible because of inability, to live decent lives within and accepted by society. We believe that, by example, we can demonstrate that this is not only more humane, but, in the end, more cost effective than simply shutting people away. And our vision is that, in the longer term, local and national authorities will be persuaded to adopt this approach themselves, thereby rendering our further support unnecessary.
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