Winter camp at Belsky Ustye


A New Year fairy-tale: a wondrous atmosphere reigned over the Belsky Ustye orphanage over the winter holidays.

This is all thanks to 18 remarkable volunteers who travelled to a little hamlet in the Pskov region, to students who had been awaiting them and preparing a New Year surprise for them since summer.

The orphanage welcomed their guests with a bright show called “The Snow Queen” and afterwards, they danced round the tree, got acquainted and played lots of games. The programme was rich and interesting, one game followed another and early-morning warm-ups set the mood for the whole day.

For four and a half days the students took park in the Winter Olympics (with relay races), a tug of war and a sightseeing tour of all the main sights. There was also a display of slide films, an “under the sea” neon disco, design activities, Christmas carols, a concert, gifts and lots of new emotions and happy faces.

One day, the students were asked how classes with volunteers were going and they replied: “What classes? We have competitions, then events, then a disco – there’s no time for classes!”

Thank you to the coolest volunteers for the bright paint and fairy-tale mood during the winter holiday; thank you for making sure silence never comes to the orphanage because “there’s no time” 🙂

Thank you to Polina Bikonya for the breathtaking photos of the celebrations and the volunteers’ portraits.


This year myself and Marisha Nunuparova set off on an unusual adventure. In the evening on 1st January we went, as volunteer-counsellors, to the Pskov region to an institution for students with special needs. We completely cleared our minds of any prejudices and stereotypes.


The masterclass programme that we prepared was so entertaining. Each student was given a template and had to make a “tower”. We came prepared for this activity with various materials: coloured tape, coloured card, corrugated cardboard, wooden skewers, cotton-wool pads, raindrops for the Christmas tree. From these, students could choose how to make their tower. Each student chose their favourite material and design. Despite the fact that many of them found it difficult to hold the material in their hands, they managed to make whatever they wanted with our help. They really enjoyed ripping the corrugated card, cutting and sticking the paper: they did everything with such enthusiasm. The “paper architecture” game really captivated them. Thanks to the students’ imagination the game turned out really well. Making a tower from pieces of cardboard and then being able to wrap it in tape, make roofs, doors and windows appear: the variety of projects was amazing. Each student was so happy with their creation.

At the end of the week, after working with all of the groups, we put all of the models together, making a street out of them. The result surpassed all of our expectations. I think we were more delighted than the students!

Before the trip we weren’t expecting such a positive result but working with such open, sincere students changed everything. We left with the best impressions.

Daria Zaitseva