Volunteers at Caritas—a priceless treasure


One of Caritas’ goals is to develop and implement programs that provide help and support for the most vulnerable members of society. This is done by assisting individuals in crisis situations, socially re-integrating individuals in crisis groups, and conducting educational activities. This is a huge amount of work which would be impossible without the dedicated volunteers, philanthropists and qualified employees from the social services sector.

“Caritas means charity in Latin, as in helping to address the needs a person is unable to address herself. Right now Caritas Kyiv is addressing not only immediate physiological needs (nutrition, hydration, clothing, and shelter) but also spiritual and psychological needs,” says Fr. Roman Syrotych, Director of Caritas Kyiv.

Caritas Kyiv was established in 199; since that time a large percentage of their efforts have been dedicated to helping disadvantaged children including the homeless, orphaned, ill, and disabled. One necessary condition for successfully integrating disadvantaged children into society is to develop their creative talents through organized creative activity.

Professor of Pedagogy, Howard Gardner (Harvard Graduate School of Education, and author of The Theory of Multiple Intelligences), identified 8 human abilities and believed that they develop independently: spatial, linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. The Ukrainian scholar Victor Klymenko is attempting to prove to that creativity can emerge at any age.

Schools focus on developing linguistic and mathematical skills; significantly less attention is devoted to musical and kinaesthetic talents (Physical Ed). It is naturally impossible to assume that Caritas’ workers can develop all the other talents that children possess. However, thanks to the work of volunteers, this is being done! Caritas Kyiv feels that their professional volunteers are a priceless treasure which allows the organization to address socialization and education issues, on a significantly larger scale than would be otherwise possible.

We learned about the details and magnitude of the work Caritas does with children and young people at the local Caritas during a visit to their social centre. The Design Group is one of the most popular and longest standing groups at Caritas Kyiv. A large number of volunteers are involved in this group. They hold workshops on: fabric painting, ceramics (plates, bottles, vases, tiles, glasses, etc), decoupage, clothes and accessory design, bead work, and quilting.

“Such activities develop the children’s motor skills and artistic-aesthetic taste. Recently Ol’ha Mayorovs’ka, a graduate of the Kyiv National University of Technology and Design and Natalya Datsenko, graduate of the Salvador Dali Artist Institute of Artistic Modelling and Design held workshops at our centre for our young clients. Workshops are held once or twice a week, depending on the class,” explains Halyna Korbelyak, Coordinator of the Mobile Work with Youth of Ukraine project in Kyiv.

The children were also very interested in a series of style classes led by Daryna Tretyak, who studied in Toronto Canada. Girls and boys identified their personal characteristics with Daryna’s help and learned which colours complimented their complexion. Girls learned what colours of make up to use, what their body type was and what clothing best compliments their body type. They created a new image for themselves; this is an art which requires a lot of fantasy, a sense of harmony and beauty.

Kinaesthetic ability, that is the ability to express themselves in motion, how to carry themselves, and fully experiencing sensations were developed in dance classes; Yuriy Snizhko led a hip-hop class. Dance, for those who like to dance, draws a large amount of children. Art classes are also popular among children. They particularly like watching movies and discussing them—this activity is lead by Tamara Dovhych. They connected with nature during weekend hiking trips and summer camps organized by one of the Centre’s social workers, Vyacheslav Fedchenko.

Interpersonal and intrapersonal skills are developed during individual and group psychological activities. Psychologist Ol’ha Lyashenko leads these activities; she is assisted by volunteer psychologist Ol’ha Zhyla, and Kyiv Institute of Business & Technology psychology students Anya Kovalenko, Victoria Rachyns’ka, Maryna Babych, Olena Dakhno, Kateryna Kravchenko, Maryna Obors’ka, and others.

Halyna Korbelyak noted: “including new volunteers is always very important! Surveys show that volunteers who come to work with our children are largely motivated by the desire to gain experience and to serve others. Professional volunteers want to serve others, they already have experience. Non-Professional volunteers want to gain experience, but their desire to serve is also strong. We want to thank all our volunteers for their selfless work and dedication to helping the children, that they have the desire to do this and that they act on it.”

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