Living Hope

Click here to view the Living Hope website

The streets of Vladivostok, Russia, are home to countless numbers of children. In 1998, one woman set out to change this. Rachael Hughes efforts' began what is now known as Living Hope, a charitable organisation that helps give the street children of Vladivostok, the life they deserve.

Through Living Hope, children are fed, clothed, encouraged, educated and given the ability to see their potential. Facilities and funds are scarce. Yet Living Hope's Day Centre, mobile soup kitchen and holiday camps are making a huge difference. Thanks to the efforts of Rachael Hughes and her dedicated team in Vladivostok, hope now exists where once there was none...

What is Living Hope?

Living Hope

The catalyst for Living Hope was a child pickpocket and a single meal. In 1997, whilst on her way to take up a post teaching English in Russia, New Zealander Rachael Hughes felt a hand reach for her purse and turned to confront the person. Instead she looked down at the face of a homeless child.

She had witnessed countless scared, hungry children begging on the streets of Vladivostok, so was moved to buy this child a meal. Seeing the way he devoured the food with an expression of shame made such an impression on Rachael that the next day she returned to the streets handing out fruit and sandwiches. Within a month she was feeding thirty children up to 3 times a week.

As knowledge of her work grew, more and more caring individuals came on board. People volunteered their time, money, food and facilities. And for the first time, many children knew they would receive regular food, clothing and love.

In 1999, the Vladivostok Homeless Children's Rehabilitation Society, Living Hope, was registered as a charitable organisation. Being officially recognised was the first step in making a real difference. With a Board of Administration, five full-time Russian staff as well as local and overseas volunteers, Living Hope continues to meet an ever-increasing number of children in need of a new beginning.

How many kids live on the street of Vladivostok?

Living Hope

It's impossible to put an accurate figure on the number of homeless kids in Vladivostok as circumstances have changed dramatically over the years, but at one stage there were over 800 documented cases. The kids range in age from 8 through to 18 years of age. Sometimes there are younger kids on the streets trying to survive. Living Hope has worked with kids as young as 4.

Why do the kids live on the streets of Vladivostok?

Children live on the streets for a number of reasons. These may include loss of parents, neglect or abuse by caregivers, along with lack of food and a safe place to sleep. Some children also choose to live on the streets to be with friends or peers. Often parents who cannot take the strain of supporting their families frequently end up fighting. They may turn to drinking, drug-taking, or other vices until the family structure eventually falls apart. This strain all too frequently causes parents to vent their frustration or anger on their children through physical or emotional abuse. Faced with deprivation, neglect and sometimes brutality in their homes these children view the streets as a better alternative.


Living Hope

What does Living Hope do for the kids?

Living Hope provides all sorts of essential daily items to the kids:

- soup kitchen

- shelter during the day

- schooling and literacy lessons

- showers and clean clothes

- help with getting back into school

- emergency aid if the kids get sick

- a compassionate ear and unconditional love for all of the children

Living Hope also provides counselling to the children and holds two plus camps per year that children can attend. The camps aim to show children what life off the street can be like and tries to get them back into becoming contributing members of society.

Living Hope has many projects in place to rehabilitate neglected children. These initiatives are changing lives. Instead of a life of begging, stealing and prostitution, children are fed, clothed and educated - even given the chance to attend a summer camp. They no longer have to fend for themselves.

Mobile soup kitchen

Living Hope

Soup, bread and tea is loaded into a van and distributed five days a week from a location in the city. This is a vital connection point. It provides the first contact with new children and meets their most urgent needs.

But more than this, it establishes trust and opens the lines of communication. Living Hope can then invite the children to attend the day centre, help with medical or dental needs and offer clothing. Children can also be encouraged to attend school, give up drugs, find work or return to their home if the situation allows.

Day centre

The Living Hope day centre has become a haven for many children. Thanks to a donation from an American family, Living Hope acquired a small apartment which became the first home of the centre. Now in new premises, around 30 children attend three times a week for basic lessons in writing, math, language and computer skills, crafts and sports. They also receive a hot shower, new clothes and lunch at each visit. A trained psychologist works alongside the kids and their families to help rebuild family relationships. Parents are also helped to change and better recognise their roles and the needs of children.

The role played by Living Hope is similar to the one a parent would occupy - that of providing support and love. Periodically the children will be given a chance to participate in activities they don't usually experience, like going to the cinema, circus and ice-skating.

Holiday camps

Living Hope's desire is for more than day-to-day survival for these children. It's for a life like any other Russian child. Every year, Living Hope runs two camps in May and September where children have regular meal and bed times and sleep in a safe environment.

Most children struggle at first to the sudden change routine and required discipline. Yet, they soon adapt and flourish in an environment where they can play sport, and enjoy activities like learning how to ride a bike, canoeing and sailing. A small amount of physical work is encouraged so they learn the discipline and purpose of a job. The children are also taught more about God and what it means to have a relationship with him.

Much is achieved through these camps. Many children make decisions to return home, go back to school or give up drugs. And, Living hope is committed to helping children follow through on these decisions once they return from camp.

Wish List - a 24-hour Youth Centre

Living Hope

Living Hope is providing basic care and a friendly, safe environment for the homeless kids of Vladivostok. But there is a lot more that we would like to offer in order to make a measurable and sustainable difference to their lives. At the moment, all our efforts are focused on one major initiative to help these children begin their adult lives with both confidence and an education:

A 24-hour Youth Centre to provide children with an alternative to hanging out on the streets. The centre will also incorporate a night shelter where kids can spend the night in a warm, dry and safe environment. At the Youth Centre, children could receive immediate medical and physical care, as well as discover a place where they can rediscover the joy inherent in childhood. The Living Hope Youth Centre will be a place where the children can grow emotionally, mentally and physically as well as spiritually. Here, they will be given the opportunity to finish their schooling as well as take part in optional music, woodwork, computer and sport classes. The centre would also provide counselling on sexual health and drug issues.

To realise this, we need raise sufficient funds to purchase a property in Vladivostok and equip it properly with everything from beds, bedding and towels to a kitchen, classroom furniture and computers.

Other important information

Living Hope

Does Living Hope receive any support from the Russian Government?

Living Hope works closely with the government and although they do not provide funding they endorse their work and are now helping to build a shelter.

How is Living Hope set up?

Living Hope is a registered charity in Vladivostok Russia, with a local Russian Trustee board that oversees operations in Vladivostok. Rachael Hughes is founder and CEO with Anya Zaguzova Director of Operations in Vladivostok Russia.

Living Hope is also a registered Charitable Trust in New Zealand and is set up via a Deed of Trust. It has a board of Trustees overseeing the governing of the charitable trust.


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