Abilitation Centre description

ROOF opened the Abilitation Centre in Porkhov in 2005. Such a project is usually called in Russian a sotsial'naya gostinitsa, often translated as 'social hotel', and in English a common term is 'rehabilitation'. However we prefer to use the term 'Abilitation Centre' since we do not see it as an institution ('hotel'), neither do we see it as a way to conform young people who have grown up in institutions to social norms. Rather we wish to give these young people the confidence and abilities to live independently, not unthinkingly conforming to the social norms around them, but having the confidence to step out and grow to be more fully themselves.

At workCurrently, we are only able to offer places to young men, as the house is rather small, and we have a single man, Sergei, as a live-in project manager, supported by other staff during the day. We hope to raise funds to open a similar project that would be able to offer places to young women who grew up in the orphanage.

The Abilitation Centre provides a domestic environment, 24-hour guidance and assistance in finding employment. Over a period of around five years the house occupants will gradually assume more and more responsibility themselves, relying less on the carers.
On graduating from Belskoye Ustye internat, these young people desperately need practical training in money and budgeting, manners, cooking and healthy eating, cleaning, personal hygiene and so on… All the things that we take for granted that we know how to do, understand and accustomed to are all new for these children when they leave the orphanage. It is amazing, all things considered, how quickly the children respond to their new environment and responsibilities. The results are immediate and tangible.
On an outingThe Abilitation Centre is on a 1200 sq. metre plot which affords room for an ample garden with potatoes, vegetables of all sorts, apple and cherry trees, raspberries, blackberries, red and black currents. The residents grow food during the summer for canning and pantry storage during the winter. A shed in the garden houses three ducks which produce two to three large eggs per day. All this considerably reduces living costs. In addition, with assistance from the house manager Sergei, most of the residents find some full-time or part-time local work.
A lot of hard work has gone into making the house cosy and practical. The house has a small kitchen with a wood burning stove; there are also two more upright stoves in the two bedrooms, which keep the house warm through the winter. There is a large communal room – the axis around which this small and already established community revolves.
This Abilitation Centre plays a crucial part in changing the futures of the Belskoye-Ustye graduates. This is not just investing in a child's future, this is creating a future for a child. Furthermore, it challenges the existing system, illustrating with tangible examples how these young people are entirely capable of making a success of life. The Centre is exactly what these children need to transition from the institutionalised child to the independent adult – a chance to escape an unfortunate fate; a chance to become an independent, responsible individual; a chance to live.