Since 1993 Kitezh has functioned as a non-government, non-profit home and school for orphaned Russian children in a community of foster families who live together on a large piece of land in a rural area 300km south of Moscow in Kaluga region near Baryatino.
KITEZH is a revolutionary eco-village community, providing a unique form of family-based care for homeless and orphaned children in Russia. Here they find a positive experience of family life which enables them to recover from the trauma of earlier years to become open, loving, valuable and contributing members of society. With the right kind of support, Kitezh is becoming a real and inspiring alternative model to the present state-run child-care institutions.
Despite harsh economic conditions, in 6 years this dedicated group has built a thriving eco-village community in Kaluga Region, 300km south of Moscow. On 90 hectares of land are 10 houses , a school, a church and an organic farm with livestock, poultry and extensive vegetable gardens. The Kitezh School is recognized by the State. In the summer months many Russian and foreign volunteers and students come to Kitezh to help with building, working in the gardens, on the farm and with the children. Kitezhans aim to live in harmony with nature, in an ecologically aware, natural life style. They are warm, open-hearted and believe that by serving others, they will serve themselves.
There are 20 permanent resident adults, who care for 30 children as foster parents and teachers. Their goal is to provide for 50 families with 200 children with the long-term intention to create 50 Kitezh villages elsewhere in Russia.
Main activities centre on the children's education, psychological and physical well-being. They are taught life-skills as well as academic subjects. All work with computers, with their local financial system, on the farm and on building projects. The school is officially recognised by the state up to Class 8 (16 years old).
Families who wish to live in Kitezh have a 6 month probationary period there, after which all members of the Partnership of Foster Families must agree by consensus that they can join. Only after that may they adopt children so ensuring security and stability.
Children are referred to Kitezh by the local authority, either from orphanages or temporary shelters. They then live with a family for 2-6 weeks. Each child has the right to choose to live there and to choose their own adoptive parents.
It is the responsibility of the Kitezh Management Council to find the funds for their basic needs, including food, clothing, etc. They should receive a basic monthly stipend equivalent to $40 US for each child and $20 US for each qualified teacher from the state - but actual payment is very erratic.
They produce much of their own food, and raise funds in cash and kind within a wide circle of supporters from Moscow and other parts of Russia, covering the balance of what is needed to sustain them - a shortfall of some $10,000 per year.
Each summer Kitezh hosts children from local orphanages. An advanced course for talented young scientists from all over the CIS is run at Kitezh by one of the Trustees, a professor from Moscow State University.
The lifestyle at Kitezh is simple. The families live in traditional wooden houses with no running water and outside toilets. They eat simply, mostly home-grown vegetables, dairy products, honey and wild mushrooms. The people are warm, open-hearted and about half speak English. Visitors are always welcome, for just a few days or several weeks or months. Allow a day for travelling between Moscow and Kitezh.
Foreign visitors from many countries have already visited Kitezh through Ecologia Trust and other international organizations. In 1996 a youth group from the Findhorn Foundation, Scotland spent 3 weeks at Kitezh and our children visited Scotland in 1997; every summer a group of young Germans come to work as volunteers at Kitezh, and several foreign student volunteers have spent one or two months teaching English to the children, building and working in the gardens. In the spring of 1999 Kitezh hosted 10 American students from Concordia University in Wisconsin.
We will meet first time visitors in Moscow and bring you by car to Kitezh, a 4 or 5 hour journey depending on road conditions. There is also a daily public bus from Moscow to Baryatino which takes 7-8 hours. We need to know well ahead of time when and where you will arrive and for how long you will stay.
For information on short or long-term visits to Kitezh, our Volunteer Program, School Leavers GAP Year and the 1998 Summer School for Foreign Students contact Ecologia Trust email@example.com in Scotland who will help you organise your travel and visa to visit Kitezh. Costs will be supplied on request.
A video of Kitezh, filmed in winter '97, in English is available from Ecologia Trust, cost $35. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ecologia Trust, a registered Scottish Charity SC023976, is a channel for donations earmarked for Kitezh. US Tax-deductible donations may be made through Hygeia Foundation, New York. For more information contact Ecologia Trust:
- Ecologia Trust
The Park, Forres
Moray IV36 3TZ Scotland
Liza Hollingshead: email@example.com
Last updated: May 2001
A print version of much of the information contained in this NIS Third Sector Organizations section can be found in the The Post-Soviet Handbook (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1999).