On 28-29 May Caritas Ukraine offered journalists of regional and nationwide media outlets a press-tour to regional Caritas branches. Caritas employees noted that seven members of the press were very interested in the work being done by the branches. The two day tour included visits to Caritas branches in the cities of L’viv, Ivano-Frankivs’k and Kolomyya.
On the first day of the tour journalists visited Caritas Ukraine’s National Headquarters where they spoke with the National Coordinators of current social projects and to learn how an international charitable organization can operate in Ukraine, what pressing issues international NGOs face, about Ukrainian laws about Caritas’ target audience.
After visiting the National Headquarters a group travelled to visit the Ivano-Frankivs’k offices and see how this branch works with its variety of clients (the disabled, children of labour migrants, children and adolescents from crisis families and disadvantaged individuals), how the informational-consulting centre for the ill functions and to see what is being done to prevent and help victims of human trafficking.
The main goal of the press-tour was to familiarize members of the Ukrainian press with the Home Care project and its clients. The Home Care project improves the quality of life for lonely elderly individuals, the frail, terminally ill, and those who as a result of disease progression or injury require services at home such as: help with hygiene, resolving legal issues, organizing recreation as well as receiving medical services, housekeeping services, and psychological counselling.
Particularly impressive was the individual approach and professional preparation of Caritas’ employees. All Home Care employees obtain specialized training which includes theory and practice on how to care for the elderly and those confined to bed. Trainings are led by both Ukrainian and foreign professionals and includes specialized informational print outs.
This project, which aims to improve the health status and quality of life of the elderly has been functioning for over 10 years and has served more than 2,000 individuals. In recent years the project functioned in 13 Ukrainian cities: L’viv (at the Caritas L’viv UGCC and at the Sheptytsky Hospital), Sosnivka, Brody, Zhovkva, Ternopil, Boryslav, Ivano-Frankivs’k, Kyiv, Striy, Khmelnytskyy, Kolomyya, Odesa and Donets’k.
Currently, because of limitations in funding, the geographical area and scale of the project has shrunk to 8 cities and serves 500-600 individuals. The project has been funded by various sponsors from Germany, France, Austria, etc. From January 2012 the Memory, Responsibility, Future Foundation and Caritas Germany have funded this project.
The second day of the press-tour was spent in Kolomyya where journalists familiarized themselves with Home Care’s main projects, the soup kitchen, the humanitarian aid distribution point and the community laundry facilities. Additionally, they visited Home Care clients with the project coordinator. They also visited the unique and recently opened animal farm in Kolomyya. At the animal farm they hold rehabilitation sessions with mentally and physically challenged children and organize recreational activities for disadvantaged children and orphans while renewing ancient shepherding traditions. This unique project was initiated by the local Caritas and is supported by local philanthropists, officials and foreigners.
After the press-tour the journalists became more interested in publicizing Caritas’s work. “Currently, every fourth individual in Ukraine is 65 years of age or older. What are their lives like, what obstacles do they encounter on a regular basis and how can they resolve them?
How do non-governmental organizations help them and what support do they obtain from state social services, and from the government overall? Why is 95% of Caritas’ funding obtained from abroad (their annual budget has run nearly 1 million Euro for the past several years), while not receiving support from the state in which they function despite providing services that should be provided by the state?
Obviously, the press is spending a lot of time on politics and the economy but why do they ignore the really interesting and pressing issues that every Ukrainian thinks about? Caritas has shed a lot of light on this issue for journalists who will now be able to cover this topic and encourage public discussion on the changes being made to it” stated Oksana, one of the participants of the press-tour.