A joint effort for a lost generation

Published: 01.10.2007

Omega supports the building of emergency refuges for underprivileged children in Russia, in the areas around Nikel and Murmansk. There is a great need for help around these cities, and we have told stories earlier about how rough conditions can be for children growing up there.

Dancing at the Sommer-Melbu festival

One of the boys break-dancing at Sommer-Melbu.

This time we thought we would tell a more cheerful story about the children; a story that shows how the help gets through and makes a positive impact. An operative emergency refuge helps the children in need, and through Omega’s contributions, the Save the Children employees and members can help create some really bright moments for these children.

Save the Children have worked together with the authorities in Murmansk to help street children for many years. In this work, we have discovered that many of the children staying on the street in the city centre, are from the Abram-Mis area of Murmansk. The children have had very few opportunities to take part in recreational activities, and the area is one of the poorest in all of town. These childrens’ days are characterised by violence and alcohol abuse; many of the children have unemployed parents. Consequently, they spend their time away from home, and need recreational activities to keep them busy. Children in Russia are called “the lost generation” – a generation growing up in a society going through big changes, which often does not have the time or knowledge to listen to the children and their thoughts and opinions.

The people at Save the Children wanted to change this. We are a member organisation with local branches around the country. Members from northern Norway and northern Sweden have long wished to show solidarity toward their neighbours to the east. Exactly how to do this has been discussed thoroughly. The members did not wish to send clothes or other surplus items, they wanted to take the help a step further from this notion of charity. The members of Save the Children decided to cooperate with the children of Abram-Mis to create a better life in that part of Murmansk.

In autumn of 2006 a group of Save the Children members travelled to Murmansk to meet children and adults. The meeting was based on ideas and thoughts the children themselves had, and plans were set up on the children’s terms. The children guided the group through the streets of their hometown and explained what they did there in their spare time. The children also showed great interest in how people of their age live in Norway and Sweden.

Save the Children now works with the youth club to create a better childhood environment for the Abram-Mis children. Save the Children contributes towards achieving higher skill levels for both teachers and youth workers in the neighbourhood.

This cooperation in turn gave a group of children and teenagers the opportunity to visit Norway and participate in the Sommer-Melbu festival in July. The visit was made possible by the economic support of The Norwegian Barents Secretariat and The Freedom of Expression Foundation. The children got to view the magnificent nature in northern Norway, both from the mountains and from the sea. The group had the chance to perform several dance routines during the festival, and made a very good impression on the local community of Melbu.

“The dance performance was just fantastic,” a grocery store assistant exclaimed to proud Ygor when he was doing the daily shopping at the local grocery store in Melbu. The teenagers from Murmansk had made a dance show for one of the Sommer-Melbu festival events, and more than 200 spectators were impressed by what was shown. Most of the boys participated in a break-dance performance, while the girls had been inspired by ancient Egypt when putting together their own dance show. The children had directed their own shows.

Going on a boat trip

All the children who visited Melbu looking forward to a boat trip.

Save the Children want to give children an opportunity to create a positive change for themselves. We want to see a change in how local authorities and the local communities relate to children and the issues that are important to children. Furthermore, Save the Children wants to give the youth of Abram-Mis a better array of recreational activities. It is also important to support the Abram-Mis school so that students there will get a better educaction and a better learning environment. By making education in Abram-Mis more inclusive, and by enhancing the quality of it, Save the Children hopes that kids feel like school is a positive place to be. There is a joint effort being carried out in the northern areas, an effort to create a better life for the children of Abram-Mis. The most important contributors are the children, they are the ones making the change in their own lives.