By Nadezhda Chibis – Specialist in Public Relations

Imagine all the things you might not know if you didn’t have parents to teach or show you. Holiday traditions, basic things about cooking, what a birthday party is all about!

Vika, an orphan living at the Crisis Center in Moscow, has been catching up on these things thanks to Kidsave mentor, Lena. We have reported on their initial meeting in a previous report, but this is an update on a relationship that has really blossomed and shows the unmatched value of mentoring.

Lena, her son, and Vika enjoy the holidays

Vika is in college and learning to be a seamstress and has a young son. But she finds time to spend with her mentor Lena because the relationship is so valued. Kidsave pairs older orphans with experienced adults who help them navigate their world responsibly, and Lena has helped Vika in countless ways. Here are a few recent examples…

September 5 was Vika’s birthday and Lena made it a wonderful new experience for Vika. Lena invited Vika to her home and arranged a warm family celebration for her. The tradition of receiving gifts and lots of attention on one’s birthday were brand new experiences for Vika and, for the first time, she realized that one can celebrate a birthday without alcohol. They enjoyed tea and cake instead.

Since then, Lena has invited Vika to her home again, and introduced her to her own family –her husband and two sons, showing her what “normal” home life with a family looks like. During one visit, Lena gave Vika a lesson in soup-making. Lena tells Vika about family traditions and how she can create her own new family traditions and help provide a home-centered “anchor” for her young son, 3-year-old Cyril.

On New Year Eve, Lena and Vika decided to visit Red Square with Lena’s son to wander through the beautifully decorated center of Moscow. Vika has learned a lot from Lena, including more sophisticated skills, such as how to plan her vacation, where one can go with the child, and how to lead a healthy lifestyle. For Vika, Lena has opened up a whole new world!