Ellie Wong’s Story

Ellie Wong’s Story

“Even after two years, I often catch myself reflecting on my time in Orion as a volunteer. Whilst I could ramble on about what I learnt and did during the two-month stint there, it seems more appropriate to showcase the altruistic and vibrant characters of both the adults and the children who brought my experience in Orion to life. 

On the first evening of my arrival, Nastya pulled me out of my room to play card games, to chase the cat around, to cook pelmeni together. The bubbly teen didn’t hesitate to befriend the foreign stranger and gave me the warm and energetic welcome which would put me in good stead for my time there. Over the next two months, Nastya and her good friend Sonya would become to me what felt like little sisters. We’d go for evening walks around the village, cycle to the lake, cook pancakes together – whilst I was supposed to be looking after them, it often felt like the opposite. 

Nadya, Sergei, Katya and Caroline (a former volunteer) provided detailed insights into the workings of the village and safely guided me through the two months, answering countless questions over countless cups of tea, whilst providing a safe and judgement-free zone for improving my Russian. Not only (foster-)parents, but also teachers of the village school, and builders and maintainers of Orion, their energy and devotion are of levels I still can’t quite grasp.

In the evenings, after a day of picking berries, ironing sheets and painting walls, I’d hang out with Zhenya and Vanya which gave me the occasional break from the Russian language and made for great company as we mindlessly discussed various topics over more tea and biscuits. 

Finally, Olga the beloved chef of Orion. Olga and I spent countless days in the kitchen together, peeling potatoes, washing carrots and making pizza. The kitchen became my place of solace whenever I was feeling overwhelmed and needed a break, because Olga never failed to brighten the mood with chitchat and gossip. 

These are just a handful of people who made my experience at Orion so unique and lively. I had signed myself up to run the Bath half marathon just a few months prior to arriving, but was struggling to find a cause that would motivate me to wake up in the morning and train in the 5-degree winter months. From the descriptions of just the few characters I met, I hope it’s clear why it was a no-brainer to fundraise for Ecologia. These weren’t characters who entered and exited my life after I left Orion – Nastya and I continue to send each other the odd message, despite my deteriorating Russian. Ecologia not only gave me an experience for a life, but also friendship.” 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 × 3 =

you can make an Impact

Join our dedicated team of volunteers and experience the joy of giving back, while making a meaningful impact in the lives of individuals and the community

you can make a difference

Your contribution has the power to make a difference in the lives of those in need, enabling us to continue our vital work and create positive change

Stay in touch with us

Subscribe to our emails today to receive our latest news, updates, and inspiring stories.

susie Kemp

Susie has 30+ experience as a creative copywriter, editor, and proofreader, starting out as a 20-year-old copywriter in the Mad Men world of early 1990s advertising in South Africa. Ever since, she’s had a love affair with creative conceptualisation, thinking outside of the box, writing to a deadline, and being thrown in the deep end!

She took an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University as a mature student, in 2015, and continues to keep herself busy working as a copy-editor, proofreader and copywriter in book publishing, corporate communications, and publishing project management.

Apart from her love of working with independent authors, Susie has a fondness for working in the third sector and likes to use her corporate communications and marketing experience to support projects close to her heart. She has lived and worked in the Findhorn area for 25 years, and has been involved in a number of third sector projects and organisations, and family businesses.

Working at Ecologia Youth Trust helps Susie to live in integrity with her values of supporting the next generation to be the best that they can be, and she sees it as a way to give back to Mama Africa, the beloved continent on which she was born.

Ellen Shaw

Ellen joined the Ecologia team in June 2018 as Marketing and Communications Manager. Ellen has lived in Scotland for 6 years and has worked for non-profit and charitable organisations across varied fields. She currently shares her passion for helping young people through Ecologia Youth Trust and she works as a dancer and dance teacher in her spare time.

Robyn Cooper

Robyn is the Associate Director of International Projects, having previously worked within the team as a Project Development and Marketing Officer from April 2019 until May 2021. As Associate Director, Robyn is co-leading the International side of Ecologia with Founder and Director, Liza Hollingshead, bringing a new energy into Ecologia as they look towards the future of the charity.

Liza Hollingshead

Liza is the founder of Ecologia and Director of International Projects. She was born and educated in South Africa and worked there as a high school teacher. She moved to live in the Findhorn Community in 1974. She started Ecologia in 1995 after being introduced to Dmitry Morozov, the founder of Kitezh Children’s Community in Russia, and was inspired to support the community in its mission to rescue orphaned children from institutions and give them homes, families and education in a supportive environment.

This led to projects supporting disadvantaged youth and children in South East Asia and in East Africa. TRead more about Liza’s story here.