Solba: Nikolo-Solbinsky Girl Orphanage
Photographer: Sergei Chirikov
The Nikolo-Solbinsky Convent opened the orphanage for girls in 2007. The nunnery is situated deep in forests of the Yaroslavl region, far from even small towns and villages, some 180 km north from Moscow. The orphanage began when an elderly faithful woman left three orphans, whom she took in from Krasnodar region in southern Russia, in the care of the nuns. Thereupon more and more children were brought to the nunnery. Some of the children were orphans; others lived in families of drug addicts and alcoholics or had imprisoned parents. Some lived with relatives deprived of parental rights. In some cases they came from families with several children so the parents could not feed and clothe them.
Four years later, thanks to the support of sponsors, the convent built a house with bedrooms, a dinning room, a sports hall and a school for the foster children. In the school, thirty girls receive a standard as well as a religious education including music, painting and handiwork lessons. The music education includes piano lessons, chorus and church singing and solfeggio. The children’s chorus gives concerts on every holiday not only in the convent, but also travels to perform in Yaroslavl, Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities. Every Saturday and Sunday the orphans sing during church service. For the summer holidays, the nunnery built up a travel program for the foster children. It includes excursions to St. Petersburg, Oka river cruises, two weeks at a Black Sea resort, journeys to the remote northern Solovki Monastery on the White Sea Islands, rafting in Karelia and excursions to the Holy Land.
The children do not like to speak about their past. Some of them are sick and nervous when they come to the orphanage, and do not know what its like to celebrate birthdays or New Year. The Nikolo-Solbinsky Convent helps the children confront their personal problems and prepare them for their life to come.