The Initiative “Pope for Ukraine” is running at full speed. Projects have been examined, aid is being distributed and the projects are being implemented now. The Technical Committee of the Initiatives is visiting settlements along the demarcation, attending meetings with people and organizations. We are summarizing results of the first stage and monitoring monitors newly arose needs.
CREDO has interviewed Olena Kulygina on the Initiative’s first stage – its first results, figures, needs and the situation in general.
– The first stage of the Initiative “Pope for Ukraine” comes to an end. What exactly does this mean and what is the next step?
– This means that all organizations which have been allocated the funds, are operating, aid is being granted, and the Committee verifies if it is true, if the people are satisfied, if all requirements are met and whether the aid reaches the poorest. Also, people always turn individually on a hot line and it means thousands of calls – and the need to check if the information is true, it really is a certain need, and how they are urgent. At the same time the needs of people who were not covered by the Initiative in the first stage. Categories of people and the needs of the first stage of the Initiative are already known: there are results how many organizations have been involved, how much money has been spent on medicines, fuel briquettes, cast-iron stoves and other needs. Now it is spring, so there are other problems, other needs: all this is now being examined so that we could get prepared for the second phase and essentially define how exactly it should be. The Committee analyzes the situation, provides comprehensive reports on the results and the Vatican will decide on new projects that will be implemented during the second stage of the Initiative.
– What was the most money spent on?
– During the first stage every second person was provided with medicines. The funds have been distributed and credited to the accounts of organizations and organizations are allocating them as intended. But the point is that the priorities were medicines and hygiene items (also diapers for children and adults). That is, the focus was on children, mothers and seriously ill people – because there is a special need to preserve their human dignity by providing the most essential things in their situation. A lot of people in the gray zone are struggling with severe consequences of war: heart attacks, strokes, diabetes. The war undermined health of many people, so in the winter the medicines and medical care became top priority.
Many funds were intended for food. People were spending all their money on utility bills, as well as home heating, so almost nothing was left on food. Previously, people had had their chickens, pigs, some farming the villages, but now there is none of the above and also nothing to buy. Here the main contenders for aid from the Pope are families with children, large families, or women who are bringing up several children. Therefore, food packages were also a priority. Now, when spring is coming and partially the situation with food has improved because of vegetables, priorities will be reviewed and the funds redirected to other needs.
– Has the Initiative allocated the funds to such powerful charities like Caritas Ukraine, or the said CRS? Have they submitted projects for consideration?
– Caritas generally implements many different projects, as this organization has a branched structure in Ukraine. One of the first involved was Caritas Zaporizhia, and they were the first to help implement the projects; then Caritas Kreminna, Caritas Mariupol, Caritas Dnipropetrovsk. Also, Caritas Ukraine joined the projects on food products and treatment. CRS has two projects: fuel briquettes and facades of houses in the gray zone, and the second project is a playground for an orphanage. There are many projects implemented by the parishes, especially those who work with immigrants or along the demarcation line. They are well aware of the actual needs of people, as they felt the effects of war by themselves to a certain extent.
Protestant organizations, parishes, churches have come in, and many of them are proud of the privilege to become coworkers of Pope Francis through the Initiative. They are happy and proud to collaborate with the Catholic Church.
– So, the final figure of the official amount of aid received by Ukraine as a result of the Initiative Pope for Ukraine” is already known.
– Yes, overall, it amounts to 11 million euros raised by Catholics of Europe, and 5 more million added by the Pope from his personal funds. A total of 16 million euro of aid for victims of the war in Ukraine.
– Thank you for the interview. May God be with you!
Photos by Olena Kulygina