The ten-month “Comprehensive educational and consulting assistance program for internally displaced persons and ATO veterans”, implemented at Caritas Lviv, finished in Lviv. The project encompassed more than a hundred of participants: IDPs, ATO veterans and members of their families. Under the project, more than 120 events were carried out. The educational process covered three areas: finance and economy, law and psychology. The lessons were held three times per week in a form of seminars, trainings and individual consultations. The project was implemented with support of the Democracy Promotion Fund of the US Embassy in Ukraine.
Project results were summed up on July 5, 2017 during a round table “Adaptation problems of IDPs and ATO veterans: at the crossroads of challenges and new perspectives”. At the end of the round table, the project coordinator, Vasyl Zelenko, the Ph.D. in Economics, gave certificates and memorable gifts to the most active participants. He mentioned that 60% of those who asked for help were IDPs. ‘People applied for legal assistance. Business trainings and consultations were also rather popular’, he says.
At participants’ request, the development program “Together to the stars” for parents and children under 10 years old was implemented as a part of the psychology course. Trainings for personal development of teenagers “Lift to the future” were also delivered, its participants received certificates in June.
Father Andriy Seneiko, Director of Caritas Lviv, admits that with the breakout of the war in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 many families were forced leave their homes and beloved ones and move to other safe places. Lviv is one of them. ‘Due to these force-majeure events, Caritas rendered them material assistance by providing them with food, clothes, footwear, medical care, settled utilities payments to ensure comfortable conditions for their temporary stay in Lviv. We all thought that the conflict will finish soon’ he says. This assistance was rendered over two years.
‘As the war still goes on, and we do not see any signs for its termination, last year we decided to give the IDPs possibility to earn money. We also wanted to help ATO veterans and their families’, says Father Andriy. The project was targeted at comprehensive provision of educational program for development of skills and knowledge in law, economics, finance and psychology. ‘At first, we were not sure whether this would be interesting for people as they got used to material support. Under the project, they had to earn money using gained knowledge and skills. We worried about any possible disputes or arguments between IDPs and participants of military operations. The beginning was challenging, but step by step they saw it was quite possible to cope with the situation with the assistance of good trainers and consultants’, he adds.
As Father Andriy says, this was proved during the round table, followed by words of appreciation. The participants received not only useful skills, but also family atmosphere, support and became more self-confident. This project appeared to be rather important and desired, and there is a need to continue it. Such projects help overcome tension and crisis.
According to the Project Coordinator, Vasyl Zelenka, the participants have considerably strengthened their social position, are able to stand up for their opinion and implement their ideas with obtained knowledge and qualifications from training sessions and private consultations on legal, financial, economic matters and psychological development. Consultations and trainings also have made participants more confident even despite the challenges of social and economic situation. The participants united, created a group in social networks, and some of them even became friends. After the program end, some participants started their own business, some continued professional studies, others plan to set up a non-governmental organization to assist IDPs and ATO participants. The most active project participants, the coordinator and some trainers are going to become the core of the organization. Some participants expressed their intension to start up their own social projects.
Project legal specialists Stepan Kuziv and Yuriy Kovnyi admit that property relations, return of lost property, in particular real property, were the issues of major concern. Psychologist Svitlana Nezabytovska tells that she helped people let go of their past, accept what they have and live with new skills and knowledge.
Acknowledgements of users were of a particular value for Caritas Lviv. Olha Kuts, a wife of ATO veteran shares here impressions, ‘My parents, who are IDPs from Donetsk, found new friends here. I participated in a training program and received useful information’. Nataliia Nikolaieva from a family of ATO veteran adds, ‘The decision to change my job and the area of activity were the most important and vital for me. Now, I spare more time for my hobby, improve my knowledge about healing practices. To be honest, if not your seminars, I would have delayed it for ages’. The Peichev family expressed their gratitude for the selected specialists who delivered trainings, ’They taught us practical skills to establish our own business and draw up projects to receive grants’.