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This is the story of Sarah Settlelen, a British woman who founded ThePromise, a charity that helps disabled children in Russia to learn vital communication and social skills that they wouldn’t have otherwise received.

Sarah Settlelen trained as a Portage worker and, recalling an article she had read of the difficulties children face in Russia where disability comes with social stigma, she and a friend, Iona Sutherland, volunteered to work in an orphanage. The decision took her to Ryazan.

It was a life-changing experience. At Ryazan, she struck up a close attachment with many of the children, but developed a special bond with one little girl Natasha, suffering from cerebral palsy. They grew so close that Sarah and Peter have now adopted her.

Sarah spent 18 months raising £40,000 to establish a Portage training program and though the director of the children’s home was skeptical of its success, the six local Russian women trained by the charity have achieved such dramatic results that he was totally won over.

Word of the success at Ryazan spread and, thanks to ThePromise, Portage was introduced into the Orphanage 100 miles away at Yelatma where tremendous results have already been achieved. Now, other homes in Russia are interested.