Employees of Caritas Germany Visited their Colleagues in Ivano-Frankivs’k to Help them Help Disabled Ukrainians


A delegation from the Caritas Fulda Eparchy in Germany visited the Ivano-Frankivs’k Caritas from 7-10 May. This was their third visit and it was designed to support and teach Ukrainians how to operate Centres of Recreation and Social Adaptation for Disabled Youth.

The Fulda delegation consisted of 5 individuals this year: Christian Sharfa, Public Affairs Coordinator; Kristine Klintsing, Director of Programs for Geriatric Homes; Bernda Vistrakha, Director of Professional Workshops; Holger Shvana, Director of Training Workshops for the Severely Disabled and Peter Zauer, Director of the Disabled Recreation Club.

During the first day of the visit employees of the Ukrainian Caritas met with the parents of disabled children and employees of the German Caritas. During this meeting, the Centre’s Coordinator detailed how the workshops for the disabled function, what methods are used to help disabled children adapt to mainstream society and what recreation and relaxation activities are organized for the clients.

The visitors from Germany were especially interested in the work volunteers do. Starting in August 2011, the Ivano-Frankivs’k Caritas implemented a special program to include and prepare volunteers to work with disabled youngsters. The result of this was that dozens of young people became active volunteers. Friends of young disabled people help them in the workshops and organize sporting events and excursions to the theatre or movies, etc.

The Germans detailed their colossal experience in socializing the disabled. Currently the Caritas Eparchy of Fulda has over 500 disabled clients who they help place as employees in professional workshops. The disabled in Germany work 5 days a week from 8am to 4pm. Thanks to individualized on the job training the disabled are placed in packaging and assembly jobs in joiner, metal or gardening areas.

These efforts are financed by the government of Germany which lobbies and protects the rights of the disabled to receive social adaptation assistance and employment.

Especially interesting and valuable for Ukrainians was Peter Zauer’s presentation. In June of this year the Club, which he leads, will celebrate its 30th anniversary. The club is run by parents and other family members of the disabled and includes 150 disabled individuals. They organize joint vacations and various cultural, art and sporting events. The parents of Caritas Ivano-Frankivs’k’s disabled clients supported the concept presented by Mr. Zauer and immediately created a Committee of Parents. The friendly support that these parents received from Caritas in Ivano-Frankivs’k and Fulda gave them confidence to take on such a large project which includes organizing recreational activities and lobbying the local government.

The German visitors also visited the Soup kitchen in the town of Halych which is jointly financed by the Ivano-Frankivs’k Caritas and the Halych Area Social Services Centre for the isolated elderly and disabled. The soup kitchen serves 30 hot lunches a day to single elderly individuals, the disabled and multi child families. The Fulda delegation also visited the Halych Area Social Services Centre residential centre in the town of Bil’shiv which houses 30 single elderly individuals.

The Germans were also interested in two other social projects being run by the local Caritas: Home Care for the Elderly in Ukraine and Network of Children’s Social Centres for the Children of Labour Migrants.

Together with medical workers and project coordinators, the visitors from Fulda visited Home Care clients and participated in sand painting, an art-therapy workshop for children of labour migrants. During these visits the visitors learned of the project’s accomplishments and learned about the psycho-social difficulties that children of labour migrants face. The foreign guests were very interested in problems associated with labour migration and interviewed 5 clients who have been separated from their parents for many years.

The German visitors went on an excursion to the enchanting city of Chernivtsi, with its architectural and historic monuments on 9 May.

At the end of the visit a round table was held by German and Ukrainian Caritas staff. During the round table they made conclusions about the work being done, discussed where they might cooperate in the future and agreed to send 2 staff members from the Centre for Recreation and Social Adaptation for the Disabled to the Fulda workshops.

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