XI all-Ukrainian initiative “Christmas candle” has finished successfully like never before. Organizers point out that this year there is an increase of candles distribution scope and funds raising for assistance to children and youth in crisis living circumstances. Moreover, it became possible to reach the higher level of society awareness on objectives and gist of the initiative.
Secretary General of Caritas Ukraine Anatoliy Kozak informs that new partners, notably, commercial ones got involved in the initiative; interest to the initiative from parishioners of the Ukrainian Greek and Catholic Church grew (note: it is the main place of distribution of specially made candles).
Within “Christmas candle” disabled youth who are clients of Caritas Ukraine in 4 specialized centers join the process of Christmas candles creation that are distributed through communities of the Ukrainian Greek and Catholic Church, corporate donors and private philanthropists. This year benefactors from Europe, USA and Canada took part in the initiative. All in all, nearly 150 thousand candles were distributed.
Each year with help «Christmas candle» charity initiative, Caritas social centers in 8 oblasts of Ukraine provide possibilities for thousands of children and youth in need to participate in summer camps, go for excursions, join training and amateur-talent groups, organize original holidays and receive targeted social assistance. As a result of work that was implemented a considerable number of youngsters took a new lease of life in society, and in the near future they will be able to become active Ukrainian citizens.
According to expert data, in current Ukrainian situation there are almost 100 thousands of orphans and youngsters left without parental care, nearly 60% of them – in residential care facilities. Approximately 90% of orphaned kids are social orphans, because at the moment of receiving this status they have/had their parents alive. Over 100 thousands of Ukrainian children are brought up in disadvantaged families. More than 60% of kids aged 2-14 years suffer from different dorms of violence. 30% of families with children in Ukraine live below the poverty line. Nearly 100 thousand children live and work on streets nowadays.
Every second homeless individual consumes alcohol and drugs, many children on streets earn a living by stealing, robbery and prostitution; great number of them is illiterate. There are tens of thousands youngsters who suffer from AIDS epidemic and this number is increasing; every year the quantity of HIV-infected women grows for 20-30%.
It is quite overwhelming to observe inactivity of governmental and field-oriented state institutions. The dialogue on reforming social services delivery sphere has being carried for many years, however, there no changes made on legislative and financial levels. Expenses of local budgets on social security and social benefits are not commensurate with state budget expenses on maintenance of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, law enforcement services, needs of President Administration, sanatory recreation of people’s deputies, air travel of high authorities etc.
Annually during the recent years Caritas Ukraine spends nearly 3,5-5 millions UAH on care programs for children and youth. Moreover, nearly 94-97% of the financial support is received from abroad, in the majority of cases from Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium. (here you can find our annual reports and financial review)
For more than 12 years Caritas Ukraine has been carrying out complex work on providing assistance for children and youth in crisis life circumstances. Great variety of activities are implemented, notably, outreach work with disadvantaged children and youth; rehabilitation and socialization of disabled youth; social and psychological aid to labor migrants children; targeted material assistance for children in complicated living conditions; and also financial support is rendered for medical treatment of children who are oncology patients.
Bohdana Koren-Lupynis, Coordinator of the initiative in Canada and the USA, retells: “The inaugural campaign, in 2012, was limited to Vancouver’s Lower Mainland parishes and was successful in raising over $2,500. Through media reports and word of mouth, interest in the Christmas Candle project grew and, this year the Eparchy expanded its reach to all of the Ukrainian Catholic Parishes in British Columbia; including Vancouver, New Westminster, Surrey, Richmond, Kelowna, Vernon, Kamloops, Penticton, Grindrod, Prince George and Vancouver Island.
Furthermore, with the cause of helping Ukrainian children transcending Provincial and International borders, the project drew the interest of the Ukrainian Catholic parish in Seattle, WA, USA as well as several parishes in the Canadian cities of Ottawa and Edmonton. The contribution by all the parishes and volunteers was enormous and played an integral role in this year’s success – we have multiplied achievements of the initiative and the amount of assistance to clients of Caritas Ukraine.”
“Christmas candle» charity initiative has been implemented for the last 11 years by Caritas Ukraine in order to involve, first of all, Ukrainians to assist in solving of social problems in the country (also all other willing to help and Ukrainian Diaspora). During the last years 130.000-150.000 people of good will participate in the initiative; it shows colossal support of Caritas Ukraine work. The initiative resulted in considerable contributions of Ukrainians to care of children-orphans, kids from disadvantaged and low-income families, disabled youth and labour migrants’ children.
This charitable initiative is an opportunity for everyone, even not a wealthy Ukrainian, to pay a sum lower than 10 UAH (note: price in different regions depends on distributor and its service), and contribute to care of needful children. We are grateful to all people of a good will who joined organization and implementation of “Christmas candle” initiative this year. Let you receive more than you give!” says Anatoliy Kozak, Secretary General of Caritas Ukraine.
You can watch a video clip about the initiative here.