Providing food assistance, health care, and economic empowerment to marginalized people in Moscow
Describe the need affecting community
Through Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy’s significant population of African students, immigrants, and refugees attending our church, we recognized the many facets of discrimination non-Russian people face in employment, housing, education, medical care, and everyday life. In response, we began a Task Force against Racism, a Medical Advice Center, a drop-in safe space with community programming, and food assistance programs for refugees and Russian-African interracial families. Our newest social ministry, the Seeds of Hope Urban Farm, began in 2014, to provide meaningful jobs with equitable wages for African immigrants and refugees. In addition to economic empowerment for otherwise underemployed people, Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy provides locally grown organic produce and volunteer opportunities to the broader community. Today, poverty and injustice persist in Moscow in ways not seen in Europe’s other capital cities. In the last twenty years, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened. The struggles of marginalized people have increased since the Russian economic crisis began in mid-2014. Since that time, the ruble has lost over 50% of its value against the dollar, and the prices of food, medicine, and other daily expenses have increased dramatically. Corruption remains a serious issue and some forms, like police demanding bribes from undocumented minorities, target Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy’s immigrant and refugee clients. Frequent racially motivated harassment and attacks, xenophobic policies, and the current economic downturn make daily life profoundly difficult for our community. In addition, many people from all walks of life – expats, immigrants, and Russians – feel an acute lack of interpersonal connection and social support in Moscow.
How will this Advance project help to address the need?
With programs funded by The Advance, Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy will support vulnerable people in Moscow, including immigrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East, poor Russian families, and struggling Russian elderly people. MPC’s food assistance programs will provide regular take-home food parcels for 140 low-income Russian children and their parents, 120 elderly Russians, 25 refugee families, 30 Russian/African interracial families, and 30 new mothers. The Medical Advice Center will provide free medical consultations and subsidized treatment, including crisis care, for those who are unable to access health care elsewhere in Moscow. The Seeds of Hope Farm will provide transferable work skills, and nutritious produce for African immigrants and refugees. The Task Force against Racism will document racially motivated harassment and violence while counseling victims. Russian language classes in Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy’s parish center will allow asylum seekers and immigrants to quickly build some language competency when they arrive in Moscow. The Homeward Bound Repatriation Fund will purchase flights home for stranded immigrants and victims of human trafficking. The MPC Parish Center provides a space for MPC’s social ministries and a drop-in safe haven for vulnerable immigrants and refugees. Finally, MPC will provide much-needed intercultural exchange, and spiritual support through enhancement of community life in the church.
Describe the primary goal of the project
MPC aims to improve the lives of marginalized immigrants, refugees, elderly people, and low-income families in Moscow by providing material, social, and spiritual support.
Describe the change you would like to see in the community as a result of this Advance project
As a result of MPC’s programs, we hope that vulnerable people in Moscow will be better supported, and better able to take care of themselves. In the long term, we hope that the activities of the Task Force against Racism will foster cross-cultural understanding and prevent some of the discriminatory hardship that immigrants and refugees face.