On 5 January the longstanding project Mobile Work with Young People in Ukraine hosted a Christmas Eve Supper for children and young people in crisis at the Khmel’nyts’kyy regional Caritas.
Tens of young people and children from multi-child, single parent and disadvantaged families came to participate in the traditional Christmas Eve celebration. 13 year old Andriy noted: “It was extremely interesting. We heard a story about Christmas, played various games, heard traditional holiday poems and greetings recited for the Caritas staff and guests, and carolled—I think everyone will remember this night for a long time!”
Mobile Work with Young People project works with children in crisis families and those living in the streets. Caritas Ukraine has been working with this population for over 10 years. Today Caritas Ukraine serves over 500 neglected and homeless children and young people in Donetsk, Kyiv, Ternopil, L’viv and Khmel’nyts’kyy. The project helps clients meet their basic needs and creates the conditions for their spiritual, creative and psycho-social development. Clients can also obtain information, psychological and legal counselling.
“Earlier, around 1999-2001 it was extremely important to create centres in Ukraine that would offer basic services for street children. This was desperately needed but the state didn’t have the resources to organize it, so Caritas created a network of social centres and mobile units that served these children and young people.
Today we are doing even more: our centres are no longer limited to providing disadvantaged children the basics such as clothing, food, shower facilities and the possibility to spend the night in a warm, safe and dry place; we are now integrating these children into mainstream society by helping them obtain government issued documents, complete their education, find work, and by offering psychological counselling, encouraging them to realize their potential and to broaden their world-view. They are becoming active members of society who will contribute to the wellbeing of their communities and their country,” notes Zoryana Lukaven’ka, Coordinator of Projects for Children and Youths for Caritas Ukraine.
Presents were naturally distributed at the end of the Christmas Eve dinner in Khmel’nyts’kyy. Caritas staff gave these disadvantaged children a festive atmosphere, warmth, joy, toys and mementos. Fr. Ivan Dankevych, Director of Caritas Khmel’nyts’kyy, together with other members of the organization, is sincerely grateful to everyone who helped organize this celebration for disadvantaged children.
“We sincerely hope that future cooperative efforts will be equally successful,” say Caritas Khmel’nyts’kyy staff, because they want to promote philanthropy and encourage the community to care for those among them who are less fortunate.