The following is a translation (abridged) of an article which
appeared in Ukrainian "Pravda," an internet newspaper. Maryna Krysa, the
president of Priyateli Ditey (Приятелі Дітей), our sister organization
in Ukraine, was interviewed for this article, and described some of the
work they do in Ukraine. (The translation was done by our current
president, Alexandra Kosogof of Chicago.)
The statistics the article gives are frightening, and emphasize
the importance of our work with orphans in Ukraine.
Priyateli Ditey is our sister organization in Ukraine, and
helps to administer our scholarship, medical and other programs. Details
of the scholarship program are given in the article.
200 Hryvni a
Gives a Child Good Fortune
by Oksana Kovalenko
child that leaves an orphanage commits suicide. Every 5th child ends up
in prison. The most agonizing day of their orphanage life is the day
they realize that they will soon graduate and have no place to go. It
sinks in that, now, they are responsible for themselves.
hard or difficult times, they now have no one to turn to and it is
almost next to impossible for them to attain a higher education, only
because they have no way of supporting themselves.
Yushchenko would like to see every orphan cared for until their 18th
birthday and to ensure that they have a future and some place to go,
once they graduate.
There are several
that are trying to do just that, one of which is “Priyateli Ditey”.
There are 152 orphans that are part of the scholarship program.
scholarship program, began in 1998 with 2 students. The following year
it grew to 10 students and with each passing year it continues to grow.
Ditey” seeks sponsors for each child. Every month the child receives a
stipend of 110 hryvni a month, (roughly $20), this enables the child to
concentrate on their studies. They know who their sponsors are, which is
either an individual or an organization. The majority of the sponsors
live outside of Ukraine. The sponsors also pay for clothes, shoes, text
books, medical needs and food. Which is a small amount to make a child
feel very fortunate.
The children write
to their sponsor and tell
them how they are doing. At the end of each semester, the child must
provide a copy of their grades to “Priyateli Ditey”.
students, are students that study all over Ukraine and keep in contact
on a monthly basis with “Priyateli Ditey”. They also meet several times a
year in Kyiv. At these meetings there are guest speakers that help the
children to understand their rights as orphans and the hold various work
shops. They also receive a full medical check up once a year as part of
their visit to Kyiv, which is provided free of charge at a local
president of “Priyateli Ditey”, states
that “We in a sense have become their parents that help them with their
needs and problems. We’ve already had some students who have married and
now we have grand-children!”
The most effective
“Priyateli Ditey” is their annual summer camp in the Carpathian
Mountains. The first camp was held in 1996 and hosted 110 children from 5
orphanages. It was clear after the first camp, that the children viewed
themselves differently and they realized they were not the only ones in
their predicament. It stimulated them and gave them an opportunity for
them to show their talents and to be viewed differently.
year, there are 500 children from 37 different orphanages. This year’s
camp invited back those children that were part of camp in 2000, where
the children buried time capsules that contained their wishes and
desires. A lot of the children who are attending have said that their
wishes have come true.
Every year the
organization hosts a fund
raiser to raise money for the camp. As always, two of their guests are
Victor Yushchenko and his wife, kateryna, who is a long time volunteer
of this organization. This year there were many distinguished guests:
diplomats, ministers, business people and musicians. Many are the same
people that have visited the camp in previous years.
even visited the very first summer camp. He hiked up Hoverla with the
children, sang songs with them and just spent time talking to them.
“Everything that the children told him, touched him deeply and he
understands the lives of these children” said Maryna Krysa.
camp is 2 weeks long. 10 to 15 children come from each orphanage. During
the school year, the children must demonstrate that they are the best –
at something. Each year the camp has a theme, in the past the themes
included: “Our Future is in Our Hands”, “Kozaks of the 21 Century” and
during the presidential election year it was “North, South, East, West –
Ukrainians Around the World”.
During camps there
workshops held. For example, children learn computer skills, how to sew
and arrange flowers. They learn Ukrainian traditions and folklore. They
also conduct anti-smoking, anti-alcohol workshops.
project is the medical project which focuses on helping those orphans
with special needs at the Tsyurupinsk orphanage. “We have helped with
surgeries and prosthetics” says Krysa.
It all began in
a relative of Krysa’s came from Canada and adopted a very sick young
girl. They started to collect clothing and sending packages to the
orphanages. “Help Us Help the Children” became a project of “Children of
Chernobyl Canadian Fund”.
In 1996, “Priyateli
Ditey” became an
official registered organization in Ukraine. At that time, the main
financing came from Canada and the United States.
Ditey” has only four paid staff members, all others are volunteers.
These individuals work so that the most agonizing day for these children
will not be graduation day.
“The children must
know that their
life does not end with graduation, they need to go on living. They must
understand that they do have a future. I believe that the children
should receive help from the government until age 21. The orphanages
should have preparatory classes for the older children, so that they are
better able to handle their future.
"When a child
this is a very critical age, an age where they can still be easily
manipulated and get lost in drugs, alcohol or criminal activity. Now is
the time to give them a helping hand. Today.”