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City news, 19.10.2004 12:56

Family Shelter to Open Soon

women's_shelter The St Petersburg Times

By Simone Kozuharov

Staff Writer

A new women's shelter will open January in the Fruzensky district after a $30,000 grant from the Dutch government and a $26,000 contribution from district funds, officials say.

Marina Levina, president of local charity Parent's Bridge, said the shelter - a 100-square-meter, four-room apartment - will accommodate up to four mothers and their young children.

"The center will allow the mothers and babies to live in conditions similar to those of an apartment," she said.

Yelena Zgurskaya, head of the district's social welfare department, said the facility will also be used for daycare several hours a day for up to 10 children up to the age of two. The women said more than 8 percent of families living in the Frunzenzky district are headed by single mothers and most have young children.

"In 2003, there were 2.1 as many divorces as there were marriages," Levina said. Last year, about 200 Fruzensky district children were registered as rejected by their parents, up nearly 11 percent on the previous year, Levina said.

Lyubov Sazonova, a St. Petersburg spokeswoman for the Dutch foreign ministry's MATRA program, said the project is partially funded by the program.

MATRA was started in 1994 to benefit the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. It will fund any individual project up to a value of $863,000.

The Frunzensky district project began in September and has funding through January 2007 with a total budget of about $150,000, Sazonova said.

Since 1998, the percentage of infants out of all children in city orphanages has climbed from 23 percent to 48 percent, although the total number of children entering city orphanages has dropped by 11 percent, Levina said.

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