Who we are

Since 1997, ROOF has been a pioneer in providing high-quality educational opportunities for children and young adults from Russian orphanages. Our aim is to help each child or young adult by providing opportunities and encouragement to learn and grow; to take advantage of their own talents and gifts and make the most of them, working to overcome the disadvantages of their past and become more fully themselves.

Pure and undefiled religion is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27)

Sergei at workAt ROOF, we aim to achieve our goal through relationship. We do not expect to come up with a perfect system which is going to mould our students to what society wants them to be. Instead, through the relationships that build up between each student with his or her teachers and other staff and volunteers at ROOF, we aim to help that student learn and grow. This is why the specifics of our programmes vary from orphanage to orphanage, and why we aim to work out a specific programme for each student in our Post-Orphanage Education Centre. Our Abilitation Centre in Porkhov is so called because we are not convinced by the concept of ''Social Adaptation'' – we do not aim to conform our students to society, but to enable them to live in the world because they have found an understanding of what the world is about and they have grown into the confidence and maturity to find their own place in it. Above all, at ROOF we strongly believe that people can change and can be changed. We believe that we are all in the process of ''becoming'' every moment of our lives and our decisions, actions and relationships constantly contribute to determining what we are in the process of becoming.

The Russian Orthodox priest Fr Alexander Schmemann wrote*, ''[Look at] Christ’s parable of the Last Judgement (Matt. 25:31-46). When Christ comes to judge us, what will be the criterion of His judgement? The parable answers: love – not a mere humanitarian concern for abstract justice and the anonymous ‘poor’, but concrete and personal love for the human person, any human person, that God makes me encounter in my life. … Christian love is the ‘possible impossibility’ to see Christ in another man, whoever he is, and whom God, in His eternal and mysterious plan, has decided to introduce into my life, be it only for a few moments, not as an occasion for a ‘good deed’ or an exercise in philanthropy, but as the beginning of an eternal companionship in God Himself... If God loves every man, it is because He alone knows the priceless and absolutely unique treasure, the ‘soul’ or ‘person’ He gave every man. Christian love then is the participation in that divine knowledge and the gift of that divine love... Christian love, however, aims beyond ‘this world’. It is itself a ray, a manifestation of the Kingdom of God; it transcends and overcomes all limitations, all ‘conditions’ of this world because its motivations as well as its goals and consummation is in God. And we know that even in this world, which ‘lies in evil’, the only lasting and transforming victories are those of love. To remind man of this personal love and vocation, to fill the sinful world with this love – this is the true mission of the Church.'' This is how we think of our mission at ROOF.

[* In Great Lent. For a fuller quotation from Fr Alexander, click here]