Mother’s Day became an official holiday in Ukraine in 2000. It is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. This international holiday was first established by the United States Congress on 8 May, 1914. After the First World War Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Czechoslovakia began observing Mother’s Day.
The happiness and beauty of motherhood have been expounded by artists and poets. It is not an accident that women should be so well respected in Ukraine. We can assess the degree of a society’s culture and prosperity by evaluating how they treat their women. Happy children are reared in a happy family, under the supervision of a happy mother.
Children of Labour Migrants, who attend Caritas’ One Hundred Talents studio in Brody (L’viv region), started to prepare for Mother’s Day far in advance. On the day before Mother’s Day, the lively happy group went into the forest with bouquets of flowers. Due to varying circumstances, many children can’t greet their mothers in person on this day because they live far from one another. These children nonetheless rejoiced at the opportunity to bring joy to other mothers and grandmothers on this special day.
The flower bouquets, handmade cards and warm wishes, which all the mothers and grandmothers received at the end of the Divine Liturgy, brought a happy and warm atmosphere to the day.
Official statistics on Ukrainian labour migrants waver between 2 to 5 million; unofficially their estimated numbers range from 7-8 million. Ukrainian labour migration has become a common occurrence which everyone knows about and discusses without giving the issue much thought. 65-70% of migrants, especially from Western Ukraine are women—mothers and grandmothers.
This fact reinforces the negative consequences of migration: family ties weaken, the demographic situation deteriorates and gender roles in the family and society change. Children disproportionately suffer when their parents migrate for work: they take separation badly and lack the necessary attention and concern that only a parent can provide.
The problem of so called “long distance families” may not have a direct negative impact on Ukrainian society today, but it will in future generations when these children grow up and start having families of their own. It is for this reason that Caritas, in western regions of Ukraine, has taken on the responsibility of caring for over 500 children of labour migrants.
All those present at the Mother’s Day celebration in Brody listened to young poets from One Hundred Talents studio recite their original poems. One Hundred Talents is part of Caritas Ukraine’s Psycho-Social Support for Children of Labour Migrants project. Marta Bazar’s poem My mother is the Sweetest won first place during the celebration’s literary competition.
“Mother’s who work abroad have many more problems than mothers who see their children on a daily basis. For this reason we are honouring them today, to give them moral support, to strengthen their faith in their children and to express thanks for their selflessness,” said Fr. Yaroslav, Director of Caritas Brody.
Tears of joy and a word of thanks from the mothers were evidence of the importance of recognizing this beautiful spring holiday.
At the Brody Caritas they emphasize that it is important not to judge those parents who have left their children to work abroad, but to find different ways of supporting the migrants and their children, to encourage their well rounded development and self-realization.