SOS Children's Villages works in two locations in the north-west of Russia - Kandalaksha and Murmansk. Kandalaksha is a town in the Kandalakshsky district of the Murmansk Province. Located at the head of Kandalaksha Gulf on the White Sea, the town is home to around 35,700 inhabitants. The city of Murmansk, the provincial capital, is home to around 307,700 people.
Due to a poor economic environment and a lack of investment in local infrastructure, the district has been unable to significantly exploit the surrounding wealth of natural resources, causing a growing rate of unemployment and poverty.
Although the Murmansk Province has seen unemployment and even a population decrease in the recent past, there is hope that new measures taken to improve birth rate and healthcare will help the situation in the area. The natural resources of oil and gas in the region are abundant, and the extraction, processing and exportation of these resources provide work for many people. However, the need for further investment before these resources can be exploited fully is still an ongoing issue in the region.
Another important source of income for the area is the fishing industry. The fish are a valuable export to many countries in northern Europe. The port in Murmansk benefits greatly from being able to export from its harbours all year round, despite its location within the Arctic Circle.
Children at risk of losing parental care
Due to high levels of unemployment in the region, there are a substantial number of children who are at risk of losing parental care. Many parents are faced with little choice but to migrate elsewhere in search of jobs while children are left behind with relatives. However, support provided by the families in some areas is still failing to fulfil the requirements of appropriate care. This is especially true in cities where the benefits of aid and development programmes are still not sufficient to oppose the increasing rates of poverty and migration.
Very often children in these areas are unable to attend pre-school or primary school. Living with foster families, or in orphanages, these children are not benefitting from good-quality child development programmes. In state boarding schools, the quality of education is also a concern. Research has shown a rise in the number of children becoming discouraged, playing truant and eventually dropping out of state education.
What is SOS Children's Villages doing?
Joining forces with local people
Working in close partnership with local authorities, SOS Children's Villages is committed to safeguarding the welfare of children in poor circumstances. As the government has been working more to de-institutionalise care in the region, many more children around the province are now living with foster families. SOS Children's Villages is now working alongside many of these families to provide training, support and ensure stable homes for these children.
What we do in Kandalaksha
The work carried out by SOS in the north-west of Russia originally began as an emergency aid programme working in partnership with the Norwegian Red Cross. The project was initially started in Murmansk. However, due to increasing need in the region, SOS became active in Kandalaksha as well. SOS Children's Villages is a permanent presence in both areas of the province.
We are very active in the community – getting involved with the neighbouring children and families to help organise and participate in cultural events. We also provide counselling and psychological support to any local families or children that could benefit. We also deliver family support to provide children with access to essential services which promote their development. We offer healthcare, nutritional information, clothing and help develop social skills. Parents are also able to utilize many of our resources. In particular, single mothers are able to receive advice on parenting skills, child key skills, housing options and income generation.
Foster families can also benefit from the advice and support distributed throughout social centres around Murmansk and Kandalaksha. Qualified staff provide any guidance or training needed to educate foster parents as well as financial aid if required.
A new life in a new home
When a child has lost parental care, we work quickly to find them a home in our Children’s Village. Here, they receive the care and support of an SOS mother, and enjoy the warm, loving surroundings of a new family environment. The close bond between mother and child in each group continues to provide the family with a stable and loving setting in which to live.
The level of hardship in Kandalaksha and in the surrounding province is escalating. SOS Children's Villages continues to increase its efforts in the region - working to resolve the rising levels of difficulty that many children face.