Vilejka is a small town located in Balarus with a population of about ~26,000 with a further population of ~24,000 living in the surrounding rural area. Within the town around 50% of families have heating and water however within the surrounding rural area most families do not have these commodities. Around 25% of the total population are elderly are struggle to survive on the state pension.
The family centre is run by the local municipal but is severely restricted in its work due to financial restraints. As a result only a very small percentage of those living in poverty have any support from out with their family.
Our volunteers continue to mount up many achievements in Vileyka some of which have been to transform a derelict unused room in the local crisis centre into a functional wind and water tight room. This room was transformed into a pottery room which has since been used to support disadvantaged, disabled and elderly individuals from the local town in making pottery. This helps to supplement their basic income, allowing them to eat more regularly and provide heat for their homes during the winter.
Another team of volunteers worked within the local crisis centre and supported 15 young children who, whilst still living at home with their families, had no main adult able to look after their basic needs like providing them with adequate food and clothing. As a result of the work these children were being provided with basic food and clothing and were participating in additional classes to help them develop their own emotional resilience and to develop practical skills like cooking and looking after themselves.
Volunteers in Belarus have also assisted with the learning programme and introduced the children to a wide selection of crafts as a means of stabilising their behaviors to create a platform for their personal development. Much of this is looked at developing soft, pre-vocational skills which concentrated on helping the young person gain a more positive view of themselves. This in turn helped them reconsider their potential and tackle the poverty of hope that so many of these young people experience.
How we do it
In partnership with local workers from both within the local Municipal and voluntary groups.
- Target group: Young women with poor parenting skills
The objective is to provide a young family and assist these women to look at the skills and knowledge required to ensure that they are able to look after their child in the long term. This will also support these young women to be fully included in both their families and their communities especially since many will have experienced rejection and isolation.
- Support the integration of disabled young people in to the community
There are 3 distinct groups of disabled young adults in Vilejka. There is a group of disabled people who given the opportunity are able to work in the local community. However the local community is resistant to give scarce jobs to them and prefer to endorse the disabled young people's social isolation in Belarus.
The second group comprises of those whose skills are minimal and have no prospect of becoming integrated into the local community through employment. This group however are highly motivated and the family centre is looking at establishing workshops for those who use the project to participate in. These workshops would look at training this group in skills such as block wood work, wood turning, pottery and jewellery making all of which have a high demand locally. By introducing the young people to these skills hope is that they will then use them to generate some low level income, contributing to the family budget and in doing so increase their own sense of worth.
The third group is an older group, who are isolated within their own family home. The long term plan is to develop systems of support that will encourage them to leave their home and become involved with peers and thus develop their own social networks.
- Improve mental health services
Vilejka has recently seen a significant increase in the number of suicides within the area particularly amongst young men aged 16-30. In a coordinated effort, working with the local municipal we want to upgrade the psychologists/counsellors based within the local factories and schools have appropriate knowledge and understanding which they can share with those who are struggling with their poor mental health.