22 boys in the Romaniv Boys Orphanage are not able to fend for themselves and are therefore dependant on special care and affection. Photo: humedica
To create moments of happiness
humedica team supports home for handicapped people in the Ukraine
The borders of the Ukraine and Germany are only about 1.000 km apart and nonetheless both European states have very different realities. While we enjoy peace and happiness, the majority of the Ukrainians suffer from poverty, some of them also from the armed conflicts in the Eastern part of their country.
To assist people, who are defenceless against this situation, humedica supports several local partner organisations by providing aid supplies and sending out volunteer medical teams at regular intervals. One of them now visited the orphanage „Romaniv Boys Orphanage“, where approximately 80 handicapped boys and men live under difficult conditions. Team members Matthias Gerloff and Andrea Kranen-Sutter report, what the medical unit of humedica could to do to help on site.
Help in the right place
„Our operation site was the small town Romaniv, about 150 km in the West of Kiew, where the orphanage with the corresponding name is situated. Together with the also present aid organisation Wide Awake and its head Jed Johnson – son of the married couple Dave and Cindy Johnson, who managed for many years humedica Kosovo - we had set ourselves the target to improve sustainably the living conditions of the boys in the course of our operation and to pitch in everywhere, where intervention was necessary.
We quickly realised that our help was in the right place in the Romaniv Boys Orphanage. Especially the 22 inhabitants of the isolation ward, who are not able to run and fend for themselves to some extend like the others, are living under conditions, which are difficult to conceive for us. Due to the lack of nappies most of them lie in their excrements for hours. In order to reduce the necessary change of bed sheets and clothes as much as possible, obviously only a small amount of beverages is distributed. Apart from nutrition and weekly showers, they are not cared for in hardly any other respect so that most of them are depressed and traumatized.
The other 64 home inhabitants, who do not live in the isolation ward, sleep in twelve-bed rooms and spend their days in a fenced out-door area guarded by several supervisors. Teachers instruct the fittest of them on practical topics in the mornings. A ray of hope is the workshop for domestic tasks presently in the planning state.
To guarantee the provision of the in total 88 boys and young men, about 30 volunteers visit the orphanage three times a week with varying members. They take them out of their beds and fetch them from the out-door area, play and sing with them and distribute bananas, which always evoke happy excitement among the constantly hungry boys. These visits bring colour the grey and boring world of the inhabitants and moments worth living for, they give them back a great part of their human dignity. This commitment is especially impressive if you take into account that also the helpers themselves often suffer from the difficult circumstances in the Ukraine.
At precisely this point the work of our team set in. We taught the volunteer helpers professional care of the boys and pointed out ways to relate to the children and to recognise more easily the needs of the disabled boys. The children visibly enjoyed the attention and the gentle care. Like nine-year-old Danja, whom the caretakers often tied to his wheelchair because of his restlessness and his shouting and who now clearly relished the long strolls and tussles with us.
We were also very moved by the fate of Slavik, who lives in his very own world. Slavik, a normally talented, lovable small boy, lives in the home because he is deaf and blind. Especially his situation called for the establishment of a real connection between him and his caretakers. They often forgot that he could not hear, because most of the time he was so well-behaved, adapted and restrained. But in fact he is not very different from a normal little boy: Slavik wants to have fun, to learn and to cuddle, but unfortunately he does not often have the opportunity to do so.
Besides our volunteer training we offered a consultation hour for the permanent employees of the orphanage to offer them the opportunity to clear up open questions. Day by day it became more obvious, what a curse alcohol was for most of them. When for example their husband drank and beat them up or they were single mothers and took up drinking because of the overload. These strains often mirrored in their harsh approach to their work, which we did try to sensitise.
A poster for everybody
We succeeded in triggering one more project in our time at the Romaniv Boys Orphange. The campaign „A poster for everybody“ will provide every inhabitant with an individual and colourful poster to place above his bed and on which, in addition to many pictures, he can mark his birthday and the things he likes and which can help to relate to him. Together with our medical diagnoses these posters are meant to allow for a constructive exchange about each of the inhabitants and to make it easier for future volunteers to get to know the boys better.
Despite the many negative side effects it was a great experience to see the awesome commitment of the many volunteers and especially of Wide Awake head Jed, who pursue at all times the vision of a better future for “their boys”. The memory of the boys´ affection and gratitude, their laughter and brotherly love, will doubtless stay with us for a very long time.
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