Social Commitment in Irkutsk - Projekt 683

A Farm for handicapped Children

Arbeit auf dem Kartoffelfeld
more pictures (1 of 10) >>
photo: Thomas Graf Grote

In the year 1995, four years after the breakdown of the Soviet Union, a social pedagogue founded a scout group in Shelekhov, a suburb from Irkutsk, with the aim to support children and youths of week social and often disordered family environment in order to show them a new path and sense of life.

One year later, in 1996, the German wood trader Thomas Graf Grote settled in Irkutsk and began to be very involved in this local scout group. For instance he provided the group with worthwhile ideas, useful advices and with donations in kind, which he collected with the aid of friends. Bit by bit the activities concerning the scouts developed concrete and long-term structures. The purchase of a house in the year 1998, which had a large size garden, and was in the vicinity of the urban train station, made it possible to offer meetings with regularity and also to offer meaningful activities for and together with the youths.

The new common room, also used as dormitory
photo: Thomas Graf Grote

Already in 1999 the scout-work could be extended. A farmstead of 23 ha, situated 12 km away from Irkutsk, became the shelter for up to 80 youths, who there had the possibility to spend their free time during the week-end and holidays in a sensible way. The farmstead also provides home for at the moment 8 alcohol and drug addicted people, who are willing to change their lives. They care for the farmyard, grow vegetables and potatoes and rear cattle and so contribute for the greatest part of their livelihood. Since two year there furthermore exists a very successfully working group of disabled with about 10 mentally severely handicapped youth, which contributes itself very much into the community.

From the constantly growing scout group arose an independent and consolidated community, which aspires to be acknowledged and legalized as such. So it was decided to associate to the Evangelic Lutheran church of the Ural, Siberia and the Far East because of the good and close connections with this churches. As for the foundation and administration of the community no pastor was available, the church mandated Thomas Graf Grote with this commission, who gave up his work as wood trader, started taking correspondence courses at the theological seminar of the Evangelic Lutheran church in St. Petersburg and was ordained in the year 2006. One of his duties now is the care for about 45 members of the community. An important focal point is still the fostering and expansion of the scout-work. At the moment it is looked after about 170 children with a difficult social background.

Lesson of handicraft work
photo: Thomas Graf Grote

The scout-work in Irkutsk is supported by other scout groups in Germany, who by now regularly come for a visit to Irkutsk. The scouts of Irkutsk maintain relations to other Evangelic Lutheran communities, they pass on their experiences with the youth work and organize travels to the lake Baikal, which offer the possibilities to get to close to one another, to get to know the work of the communities and to swap ideas.

The scout group in Irkutsk is glad about Your interest in its work and welcomes volunteers, who want to contribute themselves with their knowledge and their experiences in farming, cabinetmaking and in work with handicapped people.

The need for support is big. As the expenses for the youth work of the scouts of Irkutsk cannot be covered from state, the community relies strongly on donations to continue and expand their work successfully in future. You can make a donation to the Evangelic Lutheran Mission Hermannsburg stating the reason for payment "Projekt 683". Thank You very much!

Accountfor donations:

Ev-luth. Missionswerk Hermannsburg
Sparkasse Celle
Kontonummer: 919191
BLZ: 257 500 01
Verwendungszweck: Baikal Projekt 683


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20 Oct 2007

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