The 'key ceremony' officially handing 18 year old orphans the keys to their fully renovated apartments, meant the crowning glory for 12 employees from Powder Coatings in Orekhovo-Zuevo, near Moscow. During many evenings and weekends, the volunteers had been involved to help make this new phase in the lives of these poor students possible. The idea to help renovate old, neglected flats close to the Powder Coatings site was chosen as the problem of youngsters who have to leave the orphanage at the age of 18, is rather urgent in Russia. Some can return to the flats of their deceased parents, but as these have not been maintained over the many years that they were not occupied, the state is extremely poor. Also the flats provided by local support institutions generally are in neglected conditions and require renovation, major repairs and furnishing.
The youngsters are mostly students and even if they have a job, they lack the experience, skills and the financial means for the required renovation. "Very often a flat is totally unsuitable for living (no windows, no doors, no bathrooms)," explains Anna Vedenina, one of the volunteers involved. "We therefore decided that we can help with the necessary repairs, so that these young people can continue their studies and obtain a profession without feeling depressed because of poor living conditions." In close consultation with the local responsible housing organization, a plan of action was made and support from the Community Program granted to pay for the required professional support by an energy utilities company. Paint was provided by our colleagues from Decorative Paint in Balashikha, Moscow region and work could begin.
A team of 12 employees enthusiastically rolled up their sleeves to start cleaning up the place. "At the first stage of the renovation we were not quite sure about bringing this major job to a successful end result," explained Anna. "Personally, I became a bit nervous after we had removed the old wallpaper and floor covering. The flat looked like a disaster and not all our team members had any experience in renovation and repair. But we had enthusiasm and desire to do our best."
The motivated volunteers smoothened and painted the walls and ceilings, removed old doors and other wooden elements, unloaded the truck that delivered new building materials, etc. To make the flat look more homelike, Anna asked her colleagues to bring some unneeded useful domestic items like a set of dishes, bed linen, towels, pans or some furnishing elements. Everything should be in perfect condition and dishes, sheets and towels should be packed and unused. It turned out to be a great idea as some employees, who were not in a position to participate in the renovation, could assist in another way. The result was a new computer table as well as a computer, a set of dishes, various pans and a set of bed linen.
It was our Powder Coatings colleagues' first, but certainly not their last experience in making a contribution to their community. All involved were quite proud of their achievements and this was underlined by a huge and tasty Community Program cake presented by CEO Ton Büchner and ExCo member Marten Booisma during their visit to Russia early December. They complimented the volunteers involved and stressed the importance of their passionate commitment to offer these teenage orphans a suitable basis for a future perspective.