A part of our heart

Four days in the Ukraine

by Jasmin Eigemann,  2014/11/05

For the third time already, the journalist Claudia Conrath, popular by the Bayern 3 “Frühaufdreher”, has visited for the humedica Christmas parcel campaign „Geschenk mit Herz” one of the countries to which the parcels are sent. After Moldavia in 2012 and Ethiopia last year, she has flown to the Ukraine now. Jasmin Eigemann, who is responsible for the public relations work of the „Geschenk mit Herz” campaign, has accompanied her. For four days they have visited projects of Children’s Mission Ukraine, a help organization which has closely cooperated with humedica for about 20 years.

“Our arrival has literally been rained off: Instead of the promised sunshine, zero degrees and sleet are welcoming us in Lemberg. And the ride from the airport to Lutsk, where we are going to visit the projects, takes five instead of the planned three hours because of the bad conditions on the streets.

Lutsk is the capital of the region Volyn in the extreme North-West of Ukraine. Photo: wikipedia

The Ukrainian motorways can be compared to German country roads, but contrary to the rest of the streets they don’t hold potholes.

Thus, we had enough time to watch the new surroundings. You can see very clearly that the Ukraine is, compared to Germany, still an agricultural country. Nearly every house disposes of a small field and chicken, ducks and geese stroll around on the street in front of the entry of the house.

We are driving through scenery which seems quite natural and see only few villages. Most of the houses are one-storey buildings, new and old ones are side by side without any order.

Despite the zero degrees, which are cold for us, many elderly women are sitting by the roadside, selling huge heaps of cabbage. All of them are wearing scarves fixed tightly around their heads, to protect them against the cold.

Our host, Lyudmila Lonyuk who is going to accompany us during our whole trip, gives us a very warm welcome. “We want to steal a part of your hearts, so that you will come back to Ukraine”, she tells us.

In the course of our stay here, we visit three families, one children’s day care center, a school, the only children’s hospital in the region Volyn, a crisis center and an accommodation for street children.

Our hosts’ pride obliges them to show themselves in the best light. That’s why the parents, children and responsibles of the facilities all dress and coif very well, like for a celebration. Positive achievements are put in the focus; however, distress and poverty are visible repeatedly. Especially in the context of the current crisis in the country.

A big problem, which results of this crisis, are soaring prices for food as well as for clothes. Especially the gas is scarce. This shortage even leads to the result that in Ukrainian homes there is warm water only on weekends. During weekdays you must take cold showers and this with temperatures around freezing point. Moreover, for the first time the government has determined that this year heating is allowed only from November 1st on.

During the four days we have met children with different backgrounds, listened to their stories and learned to know a little part of their lives. I want to tell you one of the stories:”

Christmas at the hospital

“On our second day we visit the only children’s hospital in the region Volyn, an area with one million inhabitants, after all. Here, the children who have to stay in hospital during Christmas time are being cheered up by Christmas parcels from Bavaria.

For nearly 20 years now humedica has supported the children’s hospital by providing a so-called relief assistance. Especially dressing material and furniture, such as hospital beds, for example are sent from Kaufbeuren into the East.

Unfortunately, this form of support is necessary, because the hospital doesn’t obtain any other support. Even if they receive one Euro per day and per patient from the Ukrainian government, this doesn’t even pay for the meals, left alone further medical care. The situation is worsened by the rising food prices, caused by the conflict in the east of the country.

Entering the hospital, I have a slightly depressing feeling and, at the same time, feel like taken back into the 1980s. In the entry hall there are wooden folding chairs like in the cinema, the floor in the whole building consists of worn wood, only replaced by simple concrete which has been thickly colored in green.

Not only outside, but also in the building it is very cold. Like all buildings in the Ukraine, the hospital has only windows with simple glazing. The cold enters the building through all cracks and seams.

The manager of the hospital, a small and apparently resolute woman is welcoming us at the entrance. After the translation, Lyudmila Lonyuk tells us, that we are visiting three wards today. The ward for cancer patients, the newborn nursery and the medical surgery unit. However, we previously ought to ask the children, if we are allowed to enter their rooms. That is quite obvious for us.

For hygienic reasons we get blue plastic overshoes, then we move on together. We have taken cuddly toys, little games, balloons and soap bubbles with us, to cheer up the children a bit.

Lyudmila greets every child cordially, presents us in Ukrainian and waits for their consent or denial. Nearly all the children are curious about this strange visit from Germany and want to know what Germans look like.

“Unfortunately not so different to Ukrainian people”, says ten-year old Lukas. His fate has especially stayed in my mind. With him, there is his brother, who is six years older. In his family, they are four brothers and sisters. They lost their parents last year. Fortunately, the children have found shelter at their grandma’s.

What’s more Lukas, who is the baby of the family, has come down with cancer. Each day, one of his brothers or sisters comes to visit him, most of the time his brother, who repeatedly is protectively putting his arm around him. Smiling courageously he is happy about the cuddly toy we have brought along.

“Some children don’t want to go back home at Christmas time”, tells us Lyudmila Lonyuk. “They know that every year, we distribute presents from Germany. At home they wouldn’t get any.”

Also the other wards leave an impression, but not as painful as the ward for cancer patients. We get to know many people. Amongst those there is Katja, who has been helped by CMU early because she is an orphan. Lyudmila greets her like a daughter.

Four months ago, she gave birth to her son. There were complications during the birth, his brain was damaged. That’s why she is still here at his bedside and is happy about the slightest improvement.

We leave the hospital, thankful for our privileged medical care in Germany and we hope that we could brighten these children’s day a bit with our presents.

Dear donators, please continue your support for humedica. Hold out your hands for the people in Lutsk and help us to make a better medical care for the children possible.

      humedica e.V.
      keyword: “aid supply Ukraine”
      IBAN DE35 7345 0000 0000 0047 47
      bank Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

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