“I never thought I would become a beggar … I worked as a postman for 51 years. We had very small salary. Now, the pension is minimal. I’m lonely. The only daughter died, she had no children. My misery makes me to come here… I would never come if my pension was normal…”
73-year-old Halyna Dmytrivna is constraining her tears, her voice is shaking. She is in a big difficulty and has to eat in the social dining room, so it’s not the story people can tell with a joy.
What can you buy for 25 UAH? It is the cost of confidence of one person that she or he will not be hungry today. 25 UAH costs to feed one local needy or internally displaced person in a soup kitchen in Mariupol for free.
“You know, I have never been served so well. Everything is like in a restaurant. And it is so delicious. And they gave us a set of products for the New Year celebration: green beans, pancakes, sour cream, sausage, sweet roll… it was a real holiday, it cannot be expressed with words … You know, the most pleasant is attention and the fact that we are not forgotten”, – says retired Nina.
At the reception a bunch of caramels is left.
I asked administrator Larysa what is this,
“Our grateful client, he is 70-year-old …my admirer” – she laughs.
Besides Larysa, internally displaced Olena and single mother with a large family Iryna are working in the dining room and feed their families here.
Two boys run through the hall. Maksym is 6-year-old, he likes to be here, because everything is so “tasty” for him. Besides, he likes to help local workers – he brings rubbish to the dump.
“I am a single parent with a large family. In addition, my middle son has disabilities, – says Oleksandr, father of the little Maksym, – I have three of them: Max is the youngest; Dania is middle son, he celebrated 11 years just a few days ago; and the oldest son is 16-year-old. Their mother is deprived of her parental rights and lives separately.
In 2014, during the terrorists shelling of Sartana village, Oleksandr lost his mother. Grad (“hail”) hit into a funeral procession. Grandmother of his boys was present there and was killed. Thus, Oleksandr had to resign his work to look after Danylo – his middle son with the first group of disability.
“It looks like little money – 25 UAH, but there are four of us and to cook at least a vegetable soup is a significant cost for us. Here, children cannot eat everything – portions are rather big, so we can take home what is left and eat it for supper. For them it is enough. It is a big help for us.”
“At first, Maksym was little wild, but now he gets used to us”, – smiles administrator Larysa. “Max, are you my friend?” – she asked and gave him a candy. Max silently nods, smiles and takes the candy.
According to the project, subscription to the dining room receive elderly people with minimal pension, large families, single parents and disabled people. Still, 90 percent of visitors are elderly retired people.
To observe people who come to eat is not easy:
Here comes a strange man about 60-year-old dressed in a very old scuffed leather jacket and scary brown pants. He is unshaved, shaggy, his movements are sharp and his eyes are worried. He is constantly talking to himself, but he refuses to speak with me. His wife is disabled and bedridden. Sometimes she has attacks of epilepsy. Usually, he does not leave her home alone, but today there were no one to be with her while he runs here to take a meal. So he is in a big hurry. He took food in glass jars and left. When he was leaving I noticed that he had problems with his feet – they were very lame.
Today, soup kitchen feeds 130 people 6 days a week.
People come here not only for lunch, although often it is their only meal for the day – but also in search of support, care and, ultimately, hope that tomorrow things will get better.
From 1991, Soup Kitchen runs in Caritas Ivano-Frankivsk. Daily, 150 people get hot meals there. More than 10 years operates Soup Kitchen in Caritas Kolomyya-Chernivtsi Eparchy. Besides, wards of Caritas have the opportunity to receive hot lunch in Caritas Kyiv, Nadvirna, Ternopil, Khmelnytsky, and social center of Caritas Donetsk in Dnipro.