In post-Soviet Russia, wages are very low, particularly outside of big cities. Adults struggle with drug abuse, alcoholism and a failing health care system. Their children ultimately suffer. People abandon or abuse their children, and force them to live on the streets. Authorities remove children from abusive situations and place them in orphanages whenever possible. But the orphanages are overcrowded and the situation for these children has deteriorated in recent years.
Orphanages are one of the most underserved educational institutions in the country. While literature and reading have always played a central role in Russian culture, books have become very expensive and it is difficult for orphanages to provide children with new books. When an orphan turns 18 years of age, they are released from the orphanage. The quality of their education may make the difference between going on to college or making a meager living as a street vendor.
Since 1999, The Culture Project has developed and implemented educational programs and established cultural educational centers throughout the St. Petersburg region. With their Angel Network Award, they will distribute 18,000 books to 40 orphanages in the area, benefiting 5,000 children. They will create lists of books in different styles and genres to serve different age groups: kindergarten, elementary and secondary. By working closely with publishers, they hope to convince them to participate in the program by donating other books, such as class textbooks. A long-term goal is to develop relationships with these publishing houses to support the culture of reading among disadvantaged children for a long time to come.
Borodinskaya str, 12
St. Petersburg 191180
Phone: (7 812) 113-1242