My Experience as a Kitezh/Orion Godparent

My Experience as a Kitezh/Orion Godparent

I am prompted to think back to the golden September weekend in 2006 when I first visited the children’s community in Kitezh.  

Although I had already been sponsoring Ecologia’s project, it was my first real contact with the community and I knew almost at once that I wanted to become more actively involved.  I became a “godparent”  sponsoring Slavaand later Sasha and Maxim in Orion, and have come to know them and their foster families well over the years. I have managed to see all three fairly regularly on my visits to Russia and we remain in touch as friends. Sasha has even managed to visit me in France, and very much hope to welcome Slava and Maxim too one day Helping these three boys – now young men – to make their way in the world has been most rewarding experience.  

Apart from sponsorship, have also worked as a volunteer on several  occasionsteaching English, doing routine chores, building, planting, helping out in the workshopI have also helped to introduce the children to astronomy. For me, this kind of activity has always been more therapeutic and more fun  than the average  holiday

The children are energeticenthusiastic and inquisitive, and always have something to say for themselves. It can be hard to keep up with them. Like all children, they are capable of being naughtyas I have found on more than one occasion! 

Kitezh and Orion have adopted a philosophy of education from which I believe much can be learned elsewhere. It offers challenges for children in a safe environment, promoting a healthy self esteem and self-confidence together with respect for others. It acknowledges the needs of the individual child while emphasising the importance of the community;  rights with obligations. In this very special, positive environment, children learn to make the most of their own lives while helping others to do the same.

 – Bill Cobb

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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.