The Orthodox shelter for people who face difficult life situations in Moscow and the Moscow region. Inter-regional public organization “Dom trudoluybiya Noy” (“Noah house of diligence”).
“Remember that a human is the most great and beloved being of God, but this great creation when falling in sin becomes a helpless creation which yields to thousand of weaknesses; so love him, esteem him but at the same time bear his weaknesses, passions, deeds. Love sincerely – sinful sinful – as for yourself (Matthew 19.19). Bear the weaknesses of the sinful and so stand for the law of Christ (Rim. 15.1., Gal. 6.2) Great these words are: think about them deeply. They mean the same as the Lord’s prayer: we forgive our debtors” (Saint John of Kronstadt “My life in Christ”). We preface our short narration about the Inter-regional public organization of social adaptation for homeless people “Dom trudoluybiya Noy” by the words of St. John of Kronstadt because in our activities we are guided by his experience and hard won principles based on the Gospel.
Since 2011 in Moscow and the Moscow region there are six shelters for the homeless and people who face crisis life situations. “Dom trudoluybiya Noy” is the place where people in trouble can stay and work. More than 130 years ago John of Kronstadt (Ioann Ilyich Sergiev, who was consecrating a saint by the Church council of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1990) created the first Russian “House of diligence” together with his people, and urged the society to help together those whom now we call the homeless and beggars. In 1872 in the “Kronstadt newsletter” newspaper father John published two appeals, urging people to think about why there were so many beggars in Kronstadt and what the possible ways to solve that problem were. Among the reasons he admitted: “poverty from birth, poverty because of orphanhood, different emergency cases - fire, theft, poverty of the elderly and sick who were unable to work, poverty because of disabilities, small age, loss of place where to live, laziness, alcohol addiction, and in most cases because of no job and conditions when one could start to work: good clothes, footwear, food, tools or devices”.
In the 21th century in Russia we can add to this poverty and homelessness reasons list a few global factors: collapse of family values as the basic institute of the society and enormous spontaneous migration because of cataclysms of the 20th century and dissolution of the USSR. The appeal for mercy and attention for people in trouble is quite traditional for the Church. But father John thought that alms were not enough for the effective help for the poor and needy. It was necessary to create organizations and structures which would first of all work for rehabilitation purposes. The name of the organization which is new to the Russian state is symbolic – it has the word “diligence” in its name. The idea of the House of Diligence and its Charter proves that father John was aware of the European experience of the so-called workhouses. The aim of Houses of Diligence is not just feed and dress but give a chance to the fallen and lost people to stop dependant existence. Father John wanted to make people not to ask for but earn money, become independent and lead a normal life: he strongly believed in discipline and social success which hard work could give. His cherished dream was to give nor alms but a chance when a beggar could earn money… So the well-known house of diligence appeared in Kronstadt and then the houses with the same name began to appear all over Russia… Piety and hard work were the last will of the great priest of Russia… Father John called the Russians not for lazy but active piety and noble freedom. His personal belief was in hard work directed by the will of God. “Let our people accept the same belief – and we will save our soils”,- the essay write M. Menshikov wrote in his article dedicated to the death of father John. Of course, “Noah house of diligence” is not a copy of the House of Diligence founded by father John. We live in another world. But the principles of straight way of life, hard work and prayer (as one is able) are the basis of “Noah”.
Let us say a few words about the schedule:
1. Each shelter has its head who in turn has his assistants.
2. People who stay in the House of Diligence receive wages for their work.
3. Part of their salary goes to cover the general needs of the “Noah house of diligence”.
4. Meals are served for everybody together.
5. Rooms are for two and up to twenty persons in one.
6. People who stay there are obliged to keep with the schedule.
7. Drunk persons are forbidden to enter the shelter (we have obligatory alcohol test).
8. There is a penalty system for rough discipline infringements (alcoholic intoxication, unreasonable refuse to work etc.) there including exclusion from the shelter; Also we have a reward system for those who have steady desire to be a success and return to a normal working life.
9. The so-called “civil marriages” are not welcomed. On the contrary, official marriages are supported by the administration.
10. The shelters admit people regardless their religion.
11. The disabled, elderly people and women (including women with children) work in the shelter and its territory.
12. Medical care is provided.
13. In case of one month stay in the shelter without any penalties we help to re-issue documents, give access to legal and complex social support.
14. Shelters are visited by orthodox catechists, experts in alcohol and drugs addictions, orthodox priests.
Unfortunately the same as for the House of Diligence founded by father John of Kronstadt the “Noah house of diligence” is not able to exist on a self-financing basis. The House of Diligence of Kronstadt was supported majorly by father John, its expenses made about 40 thousands of roubles annually and father John covered the deficit himself though he was the main donor (up to 90% of donations). For the twenty years of history of the House of Diligence he donated more than 700 thousands of roubles. It was the enormous sum of money considering that it was the beginning of the 20th century.
The “Noah house of diligence” also needs donors and friends. We will be grateful not only for financial donations but also for food, personal-care products, dishes, construction suppliers and other in-kind aid (including second-hand cars). Our most important need is jobs for our people who stay in the shelters. We would greatly appreciate your offers. We are ready to cooperate both with organizations and individuals. We have gained the blessing to direct the homeless people to the “Noah house of diligence” form the head of Synod department of the Russian Orthodox Church on charity and social service bishop Panteleymon (Shatov) and Chairman of the Commission on Church social activity of the Diocesan council of Moscow priest Michail Potokin. Our Board of guardians includes the two priests: the beneficiary of Kosma and Damian Church in Shubino father Aleksandr Borisov; beneficiary of Kseniya Peterburzhskaya Church in Medvezhyi Ozera father Sergey Kovalchuk.