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Ecologia Youth Trust Charity Profile
Ecologia Youth Trust promotes the welfare of young people by providing safe secure learning environments in which they can discover and develop their potential to make a contribution to their communities while safeguarding the environment. We believe that positive change in the world can happen by nurturing and protecting children and nature. Our focus is on holistic, ecological education, eco-village community building and the cultural exchange of ideas.
In 1995 Ecologia Trust was registered as a Scottish charity. For the previous eight years Liza Hollingshead, the founder and current director, had been organising adult citizen diplomacy tours, youth exchanges and students’ ecology education field work in Russia. Kitezh Children’s Community is the cornerstone of Ecologia Youth Trust’s financial and practical aid in Russia. Ever since Kitezh began, Ecologia has been actively involved its growth and development, providing training by British professionals, organising a Volunteers programme, ‘Adopt a God Child’ programme, and helping to raise funds to build both Kitezh and Orion villages. Ecologia Youth Trust is the contact point for the Kitezh Network outside Russia.
Ecologia Youth Trust Volunteer Information
Kitezh Children’s Community consists of two villages, Kitezh and Orion. The two communities are the beginning of the vision for a network of Therapeutic Communities for orphan children all over Russia. Volunteering at Kitezh or Orion is a great opportunity as the communities are inspirational and unique, and you will feel well rewarded by the experience. Kitezh Children’s Community is growing fast, and there is plenty to be done - with the children, gardening, cooking, and building. Whatever your talents or expertise, you can contribute to this innovative approach to family-based, rural community care and education for orphan children. Orion is the second children’s village to be built on the Kitezh model, and although much smaller at this stage, is also open to volunteers.
Kitezh can appeal to volunteers of all ages who are interested in working with children, seeking to improve their Russian language, looking for an interesting travel experience and an opportunity to be of service to others at the same time. However, living in a remote rural Russian community in very close proximity to others is also a challenge. It requires a commitment on the part of each individual to be a responsible adult example for the children and to do whatever is needed at any time, whether it is teaching English to children, cooking in the communal dining room, chopping wood or cleaning the Banya.
Volunteering at Kitezh or Orion is not only an interesting way to improve your Russian language. Although it is not essential to speak fluent Russian, it is important to be able to communicate. It is also a safe way to visit Russia for the first time as the community is very supportive and will give you the confideKitezh is a stark contrast to many gloomy messages about Russia sent to the west via the media. It is a place of joyful refuge for Russian children who have been abandoned or orphaned. The Kitezh way of fostering and educating children has already proved to be a real alternative to the State system of orphanages and childcare institutions. Therapeutic Education is the main focus.
The people at Kitezh and Orion are happy to welcome visitors and volunteers all year round. Summer is warm, but mosquitoes abound. Spring and Autumn weather is lovely, and these are busy times in the gardens, planting and harvesting. Winter is snowy, cold, and fresh, warm inside, wrap up well outside. Less outdoor work, more time with children and creativity. Most volunteers have found that two to six months is the optimum time to settle in at Kitezh and become part of the family and the working life there, and many come away speaking fluent Russian. To plan to stay a full year requires a bigger commitment, and requires an agreement with the Kitezh Council to extend your stay after you have been there for two months. Volunteers should buy an open return air ticket that allows for flexibility.