Massive unemployment and inadequate social protection of the elderly, members of multi-child families, pensioners, the unemployed, the disabled, and orphans forces Caritas Ukraine to address the problems encountered by disadvantaged groups in our society. According to official statistics from Ukraine’s Bureau of Statistics, the average salary in our country is 200-250 Euro.
Research shows that most Ukrainians spend their salaries on groceries and paying utilities. With what is left, they buy clothing, appliances or computer accessories, and pay for vacations; home renovation is the last item that they allocated costs for. Additionally, over 4.6 million individuals, that is, 23% of the Ukrainian population, who are able to work, are unemployed. The average unemployment compensation is nearly 74 Euro.
The firsts Caritas organizations in Ukraine were established by the newly re-established Greek Catholic communities in 1992, after Ukraine gained independence. They focused on distributing humanitarian assistance. With time the changing needs of society forced Caritas to broaden its scope of work to include social work in Ukraine. They started programs to help children and young people, the seriously ill, isolated individuals, those infected with HIV, prisoners, those with limited opportunities and other disadvantaged groups of Ukrainians.
To this day, distributing humanitarian assistance remains an important part of Caritas Ukraine’s work. Items of daily use that are necessary for needy individuals find their way to regional Caritas organizations across Ukraine. They arrive from abroad or from private Ukrainian donors.
The most commonly distributed item is clothing, followed by bed linen, medical items, supplies to facilitate caring for the ill, wheelchairs and other items needed by seriously ill individuals, small appliances, children’s toys, and office supplies.
Humanitarian assistance is given out to those disadvantaged people who specifically request it, or at the request of government services or community organizations. Regional branches of Caritas Ukraine are fully accountable for the process of receiving and distributing this aid.
Volunteers work at distribution points accepting donations, sorting donated items, maintaining the inventory of the donated items, and distributing and documenting the humanitarian aid that is distributed.