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“A mentor is a friend”

How to change an orphan’s life in two hours per week.

A mentorship project for orphans “Knitting Friendships” offers to change a child’s life in two hours per week. The project looks for, trains and accompanies mentors. Volunteers say that today orphans have enough gifts, sweets and even modern gadgets, but when they leave orphanages they unprepared to adult life. The most important thing a child, left without parental love, needs is a long and stable relationship with an adult.

What kind of help orphans need, who is a mentor and how to become it? The participant of the “Knitting Friendships” project has told TUT.BY about the choice that has changed her life.


Julia Pashkevich is a teacher of physical education at school. Even before the project “Knitting Friendships” was created, the girl had been volunteering together with friends. Five years ago a friend invited Julia to hold an event in an orphanage. Having talked to inmates of Children’s Homes, she understood she was not indifferent to orphans’ problems. For several years she had been visiting orphanages and teaching lessons to children together with other team members.

— The more we communicated with children — Julia says — the better we realized that collective communication is not as effective as a personal contact.

In one of her visits Julia made friends with Andrew, an inmate of a Children’s Home, and was keeping in touch with him for a long time.

He approached me while the other boys were learning how to fence and started talking about his life. He told about his family, about his parents who forced him to beg, about how he and his sister ran away from home and were hiding. I was so affected by his story that I started visiting this boy and communicating with him. Unfortunately, I did not know much about the psychology of orphans, and perhaps sometimes behaved incorrectly.  At some point our relations were over.

“They don’t have parents who will prompt where to go, instead they have a lot of chronic diseases”.

When a project “Knitting Friendships” has appeared in Belarus Julia became one of its first mentors. She says there was no other way. At that moment she had been communicating for a year with a boy who afterwards became her charge within the project. Yury is a cheerful and sociable boy with a difficult character. He is thirteen, but the tutor says he looks like a boy of nine or ten.

— He is slightly behind in physical development, has many chronic diseases, and often goes to hospitals. These children have such a fate, that you begin to appreciate what you have. I can only imagine how hard it is for them to achieve something in life, to get ahead. They do not have parents who will help them, will prompt where to go, instead they have many chronic diseases that are difficult to drive off. Orphans have low self-esteem, they do not even think they can achieve something, and do not appreciate their lives at all.


Within “Knitting Friendships” mentors’ training is held in three steps. All-comers attend an information meeting where they learn about the project. This information helps them to make the decision whether to become a mentor or not. Next, participants are interviewed by a psychologist and have an obligatory three-day training. Julia says without this training it would be difficult to understand the psychology of orphans, to establish a strong and long-term relationship with a child.

— I thought that everything was quite simple. Then after having completed training at “Knitting Friendships” I understood what was going in orphans’ heads. It is hard to establish relations competently on your own. One may get information support within the project, to address a question to a coordinator or a psychologist. One may be advised on how to solve some problems or conflicts. It is great when there is someone to answer. As far as this is mentoring, it is essential to be a professional in relations, but not as emotional, as the child.

“I want Yura to be able to find something positive in his life”.

Julia and Yura see each other two hours a week, mostly on Saturdays. If she cannot come, she warns Yura, and the meeting is rescheduled. It is a must-be requirement for participation in the project — an opportunity to spend at least two hours a week with a child during a year. Constancy gives a sense of stability to the child, satisfies the basic need of safety.

Safety is one of the primary needs of a child. Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. A child cannot study if they have many fears. It is important to build confidential relations with a child so that he could confide with time. Orphans carry so many bygone and painful things inside them that they need someone to share it with.

During the meeting Julia and Yura talk a lot, share week’s news. The mentor tries to hear her charge out, as he has no one else to share his problems with. Julia comes up with various activities. In winter, for example, they go sledding.

— I want Yura to be able to find something positive in his life. He can always tell what bad things have happened to him during a week. However, I am trying to teach him to look for positive sides.

For some time the mentor had been trying to help the boy with studies, with reading, but it turned to be hard.

— Until you satisfy the basic need of the child in safety, acceptance, studying will be a real struggle for him.

“It is impossible to find someone who will listen to you in an orphanage. One teacher is not enough for all children”.

The mentor and the boy had difficult times in their relations. When Julia had to leave, the boy went into hysteric, cried and did not let her go. The coordinators of “Knitting Friendships” told that children were afraid of losing a new friend, mentors are often examined with the help of such actions.

— First I felt sorry for him, indulged him. But it is not right – pity is no help. I want him to become an individuality, form the character. Therefore, I set some requirements. If he starts to be hysterical, I leave and say I will be back when he is ready to talk in level tones.

Julia did her best to be patient and managed to win Yura’s confidence.

— I rejoice when he confides. At the latest meeting I told Yura about my family, showed photos. He told me about his parents who exposed him, about a family that takes him on holidays to Italy. He remembered his childhood, his first fears. We have never had such frank talks before. Everyone needs to be heard. It is impossible to find such person in an orphanage. One teacher is not enough for all children. When a child speaks his mind, he finds it easier to study, to communicate with peers.

The mentor and the boy have been keeping in touch for almost two years. According to the girl, it is important to treat mentoring as friendship, rather than formal relations. When Julia has some problems, she shares them with her charge. First, so that the child could understand that he is not the only one who has problems. Secondly, to get pieces of advice that sometimes surprise the mentor with the profundity of thought.

— Once I had difficulties with work and I was going to leave Minsk. And he said to me: “Julia, do you realize that to leave Minsk means to lose?”. I fell to thinking… — the girl smiles.

A mentor, according to Julia, should be faithful, responsible and patient, should love children and should be ready to endure insults.

— A mentor is primarily a friend. It is an adult who is not indifferent to a child, who is ready to listen, to give advice and to support. There is no need to teach, to impose one’s own views, this will only alienate the child. One should not expect gratitude.

Julia says that there are hard times, when she cannot see the result, when it seems that there is not enough time even for her own life. Then it is over. These relations help both to the child and to her.

— You start to understand that you should appreciate what you have, although you got used to it. You learn to make friends, to get to know people and to enjoy little things.

41 children are waiting for their mentors

The director of the organization “Knitting Friendships” Artyom Golovy has brought the idea of mentoring from Kiev. For several years there has been a similar project “One Hope”. Artyom became an orphan when he was 13. But he was lucky to meet a woman who supported him in the hour of need. At that time he understood how important a mentor could be in anyone’s life. Today Artem is raising an adopted boy and promotes mentoring for orphans in Minsk.

yulya_poluchaet_blagodarnost_ot_diretora_niti_druzhby_artema_goloviyaFriends from Kiev were happy to share their materials with interested friends from Belarus. On July 31, 2014 the Institution for social adaptation of orphans “Knitting Friendships” has been registered. Today there are 16 pairs of mentors and children within the project. Another 41 children are waiting for their mentors, among which there are 36 boys.

We visited Belarus Olympic Committee

On March 30 ,2016 we visited Belarus Olympic Committee with children from boarding schools and “Belagroprombank”. The excursion was great. We were shown a lot of interesting places, a museum with rewards of our Belarussian champions, we even were held in halls for press conferences and given the opportunity to sit in the chair of the leader of the Committee. But the most important thing was that boys had an opportunity to meet real winners, ordinary people who though sport showed the world that it’s possible not to give up and to win. Boys heard very important words for each of them “ Love sport and be a champion”. We wish to join in wishes and believe that one day we will see one of them with a reward in his hand, and with a happy smile that says “I have achieved the goal, I am the champion!” ..


“Knitting friendships” participated in program PRIDE

In August employees of “Knitting friendships” participated in program called “Training for candidate to become foster parents or adoptive parents. PRIDE model ”. This training was organized by representatives of International children’s Foundation in the republic of Belarus and it covered not only introduction to the program but also training for trainers.

doc8263084_416455046 Continue reading “Knitting friendships” participated in program PRIDE

Volunteers – who are they?

First of all let’s look at Wikipedia and see what does it says about volunteers. Volunteer – is a person who voluntarily doing useful actions for society.

0_88407_ded882b1_LIt’s a person who care about people helping them without any benefit (or gain). But the reward for that – is thanks and appreciation of people who received this help.

Besides that, volunteers gain useful knowledge, new acquaintances, communication with different people. But there is more to come. The main thing that volunteers receive is a feeling of the usefulness in society. Thanks to it volunteers work for the benefit of country absolutely for free.

volunteer2The reward isn’t the main motivation in this sphere. In other words, volunteer work isn’t paid as it can be understood in our society, when it is necessary to pay for any services in our world. And to count that someone will pay the person who doesn’t have knowledge and skills, to put it mildly, it is inappropriate. Thus volunteers can spend for the activity of six and more o’clock in a week.

Volunteers – not only altruists, they work for the sake of acquisition of experience, special skills and knowledge, establishment of personal contacts. Not everyone will want to become a volunteer with such conditions, isn’t it?


Most often volunteers can be seen in orphanages, in work with orphans, in nursing homes, or with people with limited abilities. Such volunteering sometimes turns into work. In many organizations people starts working as the volunteer, it is trained new skills and practices.

108592227It is very important to notice that the volunteer movements are based on the friendly relations and mutual aid! For this reason the person who became the volunteer becomes part of “a big good deed” about which with pride will be able to tell all people around.

To do good deeds and not to wait for something back, it is a big step! Only few people will agree with that, but the result worth it.


Wedding gift to children

It is a true story of a girl named Irina. Recently she made an act that is worth to imitate.


Everything began from the preparations to one of the most important days of Irina’s life – her wedding. Pre-wedding worries, vanity, dresses, invitations, festive tables, drinks, decorations, etc. But the main and pleasant thing of all of that – gifts. That’s a special moment when guests give you not only their whishes but also something valuable.

Irina was preparing very thoroughly. But she had one condition to her guests: to give her toys instead of flowers. It was a very unusual wish. Girl decided to gift all these toys in orphanage.

After some time she called “Knitting Friendships” and asked to gift all those toys to children. Such charity happens not every day and we were very surprised. But with a great pleasure we made this dream come true and bring all the toys to “Children’s SOS Village” in Borovlyany. All those toys were spread between needy families and between families who can’t afford to buy their children such gifts.

All those big bags with toys made us rejoice because there are still kind-hearted people who can do big acts and it’s worthy of respect.
We are thankful to Irina from all our team and all the families who received those wonderful toys.

История о наставничестве Яны и Кати: решение, которое меняет жизнь.

Это история дружбы Яны и Кати. Яна была наставницей Кати несколько лет, потому что Катя осталась без родительской опеки.

Катя слева, Яна справа.

История началась 4 года назад, когда девушки впервые встретились в детском летнем лагере. Желание Яны стать другом Кати появилось во время их знакомства. Яна знала, насколько важно для ребенка или подростка иметь рядом человека, который мог слышать, сочувствовать его эмоциям, давать советы, поощрять и вдохновлять. Желание видеть друг друга и общаться оказалось взаимным. Вскоре Яна посетила конференцию наставников в Киеве, где была подчеркнута важность и эффективность общения с ребенком «рука об руку».

«Мой жизненный опыт, – говорит Яна, – подтвердил, что самыми ценными вещами, которыми люди могут делиться друг с другом, являются склонность, забота, участие в жизни друг друга, принятие, одобрение, любовь. Каждый человек нуждается в этом, особенно дети-сироты ».


Первое знакомство, встречи, привязанность, дружба – это пожизненный процесс. Яна делится своим опытом о том, как Катя стала частью ее жизни:

«После первой встречи Катя показалась мне мудрой и острой за ее годы. Это действительно так. У нее сложная судьба. Она стала сиротой, будучи маленьким ребенком. В детстве она жила в приемном доме, но в молодые годы снова попала в интернат. Тем не менее, она была доброжелательной, активной, внешне направленной; Она писала стихи и рассказы, поражающие своим сильным чувством. Она все та же. Надеюсь, она напишет книгу и поделится своей историей.

Мы знакомы друг с другом уже 4 года. Катя очень изменилась за этот период. Во-первых, она выросла. Теперь она не подросток, а 19-летняя девушка. Закончила школу, вышла из сиротского дома, поступила в медицинский колледж, стала жить самостоятельно. На каждом этапе она должна была сделать ответственный выбор. Конечно, помогая определиться с действиями в любой ситуации, мы хотели, чтобы она училась не бояться принимать серьезные решения. Мы хотели, чтобы Катя заставила себя сделать шаг в индивидуальную жизнь, понимая, что рядом с ней близки . И ей это удалось. За это время Катя стала не только частью моей жизни, но и частью жизни моих родственников.


Теперь наступил новый жизненный этап, в котором появилось много новых неотложных проблем: образ жизни, бюджетирование, учеба, управление временем. Конечно, появляются новые мысли об отношениях, семье, дружбе. Я очень рада, что она рассказывает мне о своих успехах и неудачах, мыслях и опыте, и я рада, что она стала такой отзывчивой, доброжелательной и целеустремленной ».

Яна сказала, что она все больше понимает, как «человек нуждается в человеке», общаясь с Катей. Очень важно поделиться тем, что у вас есть, особенно вниманием, сочувствием,  жизненным опытом. История дружбы Яны и Кати показывает, насколько искренним и благодарным может быть человек, несмотря на обстоятельства.
Сегодня история их отношений переходит в тесную дружбу и продолжает развиваться. Когда-то, приняв решение войти в жизнь ребенка-сироты и сделать его частью своей жизни, может изменить всю жизнь.

Наставничество – это решение, которое меняет жизнь. Это нелегко сделать, но вы получаете больше, чем можете себе представить.