St Sophia’s Social Home

A non-governmental organization for children and adults with severe multiple developmental disorders
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The Orthodox St Sophia’s Social Home is the first NGO in Russia for disabled children and adults with severe multiple developmental disorders.

On March, 2, 2015 the Homie, lovingly called so by its friends, accepted 22 disabled children from a state orphanage for mentally-challenged children. The Homie is a place where its in-mates’ socialization and integration into the life of our society is the primary goal of those who run it. The children regularly attend classes of curative pedagogy, learn to swim in the swimming-pool, discover the world around them. Since September, 1, 2015, all the alumni of the Homie have been successfully accepted into Moscow educational organizations where they’ve been studying according to the curriculum specially adjusted to their level of development. Previously, they didn’t use to go to school.

Another distinctive feature of the Homie is that it’s family-oriented for every single child. Most of the time, it’s next to impossible to find a new home for a child with multiple developmental disorders. And even if they do not succeed in finding such a family, the workers of the Homie are ready to take good care of each child under their care even after their coming of age.

The chance not to exclude of-age people (i.e. not to move them on to a state Mental Health Nursing Home for adults) came in September, 2016. That was the time when the Charter and name of organization were changed. Instead of the common “Orthodox St Sophia’s Orphanage for disabled children” came “Orthodox St Sophia’s Social Home”. But even though the name got changed, the core of the project stayed the same. For now, it’s the only NGO in Russia where both children and adults with multiple developmental disorders live together almost like in a real family.

The Homie houses some 20 disabled children with severe multiple developmental disorders and one adult (over 18) with disability Class 1. Those who work in the Homie – nurses, speech pathologists, social workers, specialists in movement development, ones for communication skills development – do their best to create such conditions under which each and every member could maximally develop their skills. Life in the Homie is run like that in a family. Here each person under care has a significant adult who spends a lot of time with disabled person and, with time, gets close to them and becomes their real friend. The fact that there’s such an adult in their lives partially compensates for the absence of parental support and care and gives the required feeling of safety and love, which, in turn, is a most stimulating developmental trigger.

The Homie tries to attract volunteers who are ready to become real friends for each and every child and accompany them for a long period of time. Such friends broaden the children’s horizons and help the orphans get a new social experience. Besides, it gives a child a good chance to find a family: at present, four volunteers have made a decision to register a guest mode with their children and one has formalized custody and welcomed an orphan from the Homie into their family.