Growing up at Kitezh and Orion

Growing up at Kitezh and Orion

Take some time to read a few stories from the young people who grew up in Kitezh and Orion

Dmitry Morozov. Founder of Kitezh 

I remember the brave active Liza who visited our 2 houses with one toilet in the depths of winter, forests and fields in deep snow. This was the future Kitezh and it would remain that way if it was not for the help of LizacharityWe were about ten adults and 4 children with lots of enthusiasm but no money and no experience. No one in 1993 in Russia believed that Morozov’s dream about small world designed for the rehabilitation of orphans could be built in such situation. Liza experienced Russian steam bath – Banya…long philosophical talks with tea and pancakes – and shared information about the Findhorn Community.

It gave us comfort to know that we are not alone on the earth, and the few hundred pounds that she donated made a great difference at that time. We treasure our friendship which appeared at such a romantic time in the struggle for the pure existence of the Kitezh community.

Svyatoslav Klimov. Lived in Kitezh from 2006 to 2010. 

I came to Kitezh in a rather non-standard way. Many come via state orphanages, whereas I was invited to the yearly role play game they hold. I was 15 years old, and decided that I was going to stay at Kitezh, no matter what. I had lived in numerous shelters before Kitezh. My mother died of alcoholism, my father was deprived of parental rights. 

My thanks to my foster father, who took custody of me in Kitezh and endured my many antics. I lived with him for four years and met many amazing people. I learned a lot. I am still guided in life by the principles you learn whilst you’re at Kitezh, even though 10 years have passed since I graduated. One of the most important skills that I learnt in Kitezh is the ability to negotiate, take responsibility for your actions and deeds, the ability to plan events not only in your head, but also to share your plans with others. But for me personally, the main thing that Kitezh gave me was the ability not to give up.  

… But if I fall, I will rise, if I lose, I will start over …” reads the Mentor’s code. 

I’ve had many ups and downs in my life outside Kitezh, but the principle described above always made me rise again and again, get out from difficult situations, and always believe in the best. I would like to say thank you to the people who helped me in my difficult moments, Marina Maximova and Bill Cobb.  

Now I am starting a new phase in my career. I now work as an IT manager at Societe Generale, after working in many Russian companies and as an engineer at NVIDIA for four years. I would like to say huge thanks to Andrew Aikman for teaching me English, for his constant “engage your brains” in class, despite the fact that I was not a brilliant student.

It is difficult for me to somehow talk of all that I received in Kitezh. I can only best summarise that in Kitezh I found myself, not isolated and renounced from the whole person, but a man with burning eyes who wants to make this world a little better. 

Lilya Logacheva. Lived in Kitezh from 1999 to 2009

I lived not far from the village of Kitezh. When I was 8 years old, my parents lost parental rights, and a social worker who worked with my family saw my potential and recommended me to Kitezh. At first, I lived with the Surakhanyan family, where children were really engaged. Zhora (my foster father) and I would go out to pick mushrooms for food, and in the evenings before going to bed, he would read us fairy tales. Natasha (my foster mother) played Lotto and other card games with me using cards she bought from the Tretyakov gallery and also helped me cope with my outbursts and emotions. I can’t say that everything was easy for me, but I always felt the support of adults. 

Ecologia sent many volunteers to help at Kitezh, so I now have many friends from other countries. For me, they were a window into another world. When I was 13 years old, Natasha had to return to Moscow for family reasons, so I went to live with another foster mother, Marina Maximova, who is still my mother to this day. Under her guidance and support, I successfully graduated from school and became a mentor to the other children. I learned to cope with my psychological problems, played in the Kitezh theatre, and helped young mothers with children. 

After receiving my school certificate, I entered the faculty of Social relations at the Pedagogical University in Kaluga. There I successfully completed 5 years of education and started working at the state institution for disabled children and children with mental disabilities. 

I liked my job. I helped around 250 families with children. But it became clear that something needed to change, and I decided that I wanted to work in a different field. Now I work as a kindergarten teacher, I have 40 children in my group. In the evenings after work I study to be a pharmacist. It’s very interesting, and I have only 4 years of study left. I hope that this profession will give me the opportunity to become financially independent.  

My main goal in life is to be happy, to stand firmly on my own feet and not repeat the mistakes of my biological parents.

My mother Marina constantly helps me with this – with her favourite word “Dare”- so I go for it… I study, work, and play sports.  As for my personal life, I lived with a guy for 9 years, but it wasn’t meant to be. Now I keep my eyes and heart open, in search of a worthy life partner to start a family with.  

Vanya Kurovsky. Lived at Orion from 2009 to 2019

Katya Shumeiko, a foster parent in Orion, writes about one of their young graduates.

Vanya, now 19 years of age, is a graduate of Orion. Though still not very confident of himself, he is aiming for his goals. His desire to be a computer game designer is a top priority. However, that didn’t come without wonderful people in his life who just may have overturned his fate.

Vanya was an orphan. Take note, he WAS an orphan. He hasn’t been since he was brought to Orion at the age of eight. Orion is a place of foster families, you see. His foster parents are Masha and Anton Kuzmin, the heads of Orion community. Before that however, he lived an unfortunate situation, in a children’s shelter. He was shallow, scared, full of traumas from being neglected by everyone around himself. However, such was and is life for many orphans. You see, this is exactly what Orion does. They take in the fatherless and make them whole again.

Vanya now is a young man full of life, friendly, not too shy and striving for success. Through support and love of many people of Orion, he is confident he can do it.  

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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.