Kostroma – Interview with Natalia V. and Maria F.

Our in-country staff are remarkable and talented individuals. Without them, transforming the lives of vulnerable and orphaned children would not be possible. The Children’s HopeChest model in Russia is different than our models in other countries, in that we operate primarily through our Ministry Centers in the Kostroma, Kirov, and Vladimir regions. Our Ministry Centers provide valuable resources such as Young Mothers Programs, mentorship, dental services, job skills training, and counseling services.


These services are offered to graduates of Russian orphanages. In Russia, orphans “graduate” from the orphanage at 16 years old, oftentimes with little to no resources to thrive outside the orphanage. Not only do orphaned youth have limited resources, but many people also have prejudices against orphans because they believe that they will turn to crime, drugs, or prostitution.


Fund Nadezhda is the Russian nonprofit organization that operates throughout the regions in Russia and is partnered with and financially supported by Children’s HopeChest and Orphan’s Tree. In partnership with Fund Nadezhda and other organizations, God’s work is able to fully operate and reach hundreds of individuals through transformational relationships.


This is due to the incredible staff who value each young adult and youth who walk through the door. The staff create an atmosphere of inclusion and show the youth that they are valuable and that their lives have great purpose. The Ministry Centers become a “home” where vulnerable youth can feel part of a community – a family.


This week we would like to introduce Natalia V., Young Mother and Young Family Programs Coordinator/Counselor, and Maria F., Mentor at the Tech Schools. We interviewed them about their work with the Ministry Centers and what their daily lives look like.




Name: Natalia V.

Title: Young Mother and Young Family Programs Coordinator/Counselor



Tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, where you live, and your family.

I live and work in Kostroma, and I have a grown-up son.


What is your role? What is a typical day like?

I am the Young Mother and Young Family Programs Coordinator/Counselor at the Kostroma Ministry Center.  My workday includes preparation and organization of different activities according to my work plan, providing overall timely social and psychological support to the program participants, holding one-on-one as well as group discussion with the program participants and helping them solve various issues.


What do you like about working for HopeChest?

Sincerity and openness.


Share a story about working with a particular child in the program.

One girl – an older orphan from Galich boarding school – the mom of three healthy children nowadays. Together with her husband they used to be participants of the Young Family Program. One year this young family faced a real tragedy – they had a baby girl who was born with a disability and died at the age of 3. The young parents were devastated–they started drinking.  But fortunately through God’s grace managed to get over their grief. A few years later they had a baby son and soon after a baby girl. At the time they were facing yet another difficulty–both parents couldn’t find work and the family struggled financially. Fortunately, the mom was able to work as an intern at the Ministry Center for some time – looking after the other program participants’ children while they were running errands, doing some shopping or seeing a doctor. She would also play with the kids, put them to bed for a nap or educate them. Thanks to this experience, later on this mom was able to get a job at a daycare center and worked as a caregiver there. A little over a year ago this family had a new baby boy. The family is doing well.


Name: Maria F.

Title: Mentor at Tech Schools



Tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, where you live, and your family.

I was born in Kazakhstan, which used to be part of the USSR . My dad was serving in the military and our family was stationed in Baikonur, Kazakhstan  for more than 25 years. When we moved to Kostroma, Russia I went to learn foreign languages in Kostroma State University.


How did you find out about HopeChest?

In my third year of school one of my professors introduced me to the Ministry Center where I got to interpret for a team of American volunteers for the first time.  It was eight years ago, since then I have been  interpreting for the American teams at the orphanages and Ministry Centers.


What is your role? What is a typical day like?

Five years ago I became a discipler at two orphanages in the Kostroma region. Altogether I have been discipling at four orphanages at different times and three years ago I came to work as a mentor for older orphans at the Ministry Center and tech schools. Twice a month I visit the orphanage and work on the projects with the kids there or engage them  into the Ministry Center activities and the rest of the time I get to work with orphanage graduates: once a month we go on a cultural outing to an art gallery, museum, the theater or concert hall, every week we cook a meal for everybody at the Ministry Center together, have a budgeting class and work on either a craft project for a volunteer visit or an art project.


What do you like to do in your free time, when you are not at work?

I enjoy art in my free time and there are a few kids who love painting and drawing in their free time as well.


Share a story about working with a particular child in the program.

Zhenya I., Vokhma graduate  is a gifted artist. He has always been involved into art classes and projects at his orphanage. When he moved to Kostroma after the graduation we found an art school for him to attend. He has been taking art classes since October and is currently working on his second oil painting and is actively involved in the Ministry Center art project for the orphanage for babies.  I am very proud of Zhenya and look forward to more of his artworks.


What have you learned since you started working with HopeChest?

I’ve learned to believe that it’s very important to give, which we do our best to teach the older orphans that we work with. And also, that sharing your time, care, and attention eventually leads to sharing Love, the biggest of God’s blessings.