human development, social justice and sustainable social systems
Living Lent in hard times at Caritas Ukraine
No one was prepared for what 2020 would bring. That the whole world would face this massive challenge of the COVID 19 pandemic. After the first week of shock when the quarantine started in Ukraine, Caritas and our church communities began to think about how to help the poor, the elderly, the homeless: the people who are the most vulnerable.
In this time of quarantine, people are rethinking their values, and finding new ways to support their relatives and neighbours in their communities. This is a positive side of this pandemic, and maybe there is some plan of God in this, for everyone to pay more attention to the people in need. Is it a coincidence that the peak of the pandemic and quarantine occurred during Lent? Maybe God wants to tell us something.
In the framework of the project, Caritas Ukraine ‘Activation of Social Ministry’, many active members of our communities are implementing social initiatives for the support of people during the pandemic. For example:
In different regions of Ukraine, in the parishes of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), parishioners conduct charity events for gathering food products to help the elderly, and people with disabilities.
In Vinnytsia and Harkiv region, the UGCC community has launched a charity event to distribute face masks. ‘In the face of deficiency, people come to the church for help. Therefore, in response to new challenges, our Greek Catholic community has acquired protective facemasks during quarantine. We distribute them to anyone who needs it’, says a local priest of the UGCC, Archpriest Mykhailo Budnik.
In Caritas Kolomiya, during the quarantine, the charity canteen for the homeless has not ceased its operations, moreover – they have adapted to the requirements and feed the people in safe way in line with hygiene requirements. Every day, from Monday to Friday, people get a hot lunch, but during this time of quarantine, receive the food in a container through the window to avoid direct contact and reduce the accumulation of people in the dining room. It is a great help for the homeless to visit the charity dining room, because even when things are normal, a hot lunch helped them to overcome hunger, not to mention now during this pandemic.
Lent is an opportunity for our prayer to be real. So today we help people who are at risk of contracting this new virus.
An active parishioner
In Kyiv the team of volunteers from the parish community ‘Vineyard’ of the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, created a social ministry for the elderly and the poor. The ministry, called “Sobor.Help” assists with the delivery of food products and medicine.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them
Matthew 18, 20
Volunteers of ‘Sobor.Help’, together with social workers of Caritas Kyiv, deliver products for the infirmed elderly, and people with disabilities, who have to stay at home all the time and need home care.
We make a maximum effort to ensure that those who are in difficulty now have access to basic food items and can feel support and encouragement.
Priest Roman Sirotich, Director of Caritas Kyiv
Also, in this period of Lent and Easter it is important to give vulnerable people the evangelisation message of hope and love. Volunteers support them via phone conversations because some of them live alone and feel afraid during this period of uncertainty.
This time of facing this pandemic gives us a chance to show the Christian faith in action through mercy.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luka 6, 36
This crisis period opens new opportunities and strengthens our faith.