My name is Gabriel Preece and I'm a British volunteer from London. I've been in Samara since February, and my project - working with children with disabilities - ends at the beginning of August.
Every day I visit one of four families connected with my hosting organisation, Parus Nadezhdy. My work with every family is very different due to both the large age range of the individuals and the differing natures of their disabilities. For example, with Maccar and Dimitri, energetic 5-year old twins with trouble walking, I play and do arts-and-crafts activities, while I help 25-year old Alexei to negotiate public transport in his wheelchair in order to get to a meeting of charity workers and administrators.
My project has given me many interesting opportunities, from developing my computer skills (Alexei has a degree in IT, and one of my jobs is to help realise his ideas on programs like Adobe Illustrator and Magix MusicMaker as his manual dexterity is impaired), to learning how to teach English as a foreign language (with 11-year old Parmen). It's also given me the chance to learn more about Russian culture. For example, I recently accompanied the Parus delegation to the 9th of May Victory parade, which was very interesting as it taught me about Russian attitudes to the Second World War and how they differ to those held by most British people.
All in all, my placement has so far been a very useful and enjoyable experience, giving me many transferable skills which I'm sure will be invaluable in the future, in addition to the Russian language practice which was perhaps the main reason I applied to do an EVS.