October 1 marks UN’s International Day of Older Persons. It is obvious that for Caritas Ukraine, which focuses on the care for the elderly as one of its priority directions, this date is another opportunity to support older people, draw attention of the society to their problems and show the elderly people that they are not alone in this world – they are respected, supported and people are interested in their life experience.
On this day, Caritas staff tried to organize events which included not only gifts giving, but were aimed to highlight problems of elderly people, engage them in different activities, show that their experience, skills and support are necessary for younger generations, and to engage to the event all those who are not indifferent, especially the youth.
‘Home care’ project was introduced to journalists in Ternopil. Correspondents of local media together with the project staff headed by Caritas Director, Father Andriy Marchuk, visited Caritas wards who cannot move unaided. It was decided that this year nobody should be left unattended, so everybody received gifts. The elderly had plenty of time to talk with Caritas staff and journalists, and were blessed by Father Andriy.
Senior citizens are a source of folk wisdom and their practical life experience is an indissoluble bridge which unites generations. That is why events aimed at involvement of the youth to the discourse are extremely vital. To the call of Caritas Ivano-Frankivsk, students of Technical University of Oil and Gas, Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University, Precarpathian Law Institute held a charity initiative ‘Youth cares about elderly people’ aimed to raise funds and collect care products for older people who live in Ivano-Frankivsk geriatric home. Total donations of UAH 3,465.00 were used to purchase diapers which are extremely necessary for such people. ‘The initiative was aimed at drawing attention of students and community to ill lonely elderly people and demonstrate an example of social services rendered by students – volunteers to our fellow men in need’, Natalia Kozakevych, Director of Caritas Ivano-Frankivsk, says.
The initiative organized by Caritas Brody to mark International Day of Older Persons was equally interesting. Local pedagogical college hosted a unique exhibition ‘Like a gulp of fresh air’ which presented photos demonstrating nine real life histories of elderly people, participants of the project ‘Meeting place: Dialogue’. These are people whose fate contains the history of the 20th century. The exhibition left nobody indifferent. ‘A typical picture of an elderly person is a weak and wretched person in a kerchief or without it as it is way they are described in poems and songs. But this stereotype must be busted. This exhibition is exactly about people who despite their age and experienced changes are still open-minded and initiative, and stay on the track. They inspire to love the life and value every minute. They are absolutely amazing, and we thank them for this!’ a college student Mariia Bilyk shares her impressions.
On the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons more than 100 elderly people received help from Caritas Kyiv (meal kits, medicine, diapers for those who need them). ‘At present, we face quite tough times in Ukraine, and that is why we are very pleased that with assistance of benefactors we got the possibility to care about these elderly people as well. Meals and medicine became our manifestation of care and love and an important material support. They are very grateful. Personally, from my side and from the side of all these older persons I want to sincerely thank all those who joined the initiative’, Roman Syrotych, Director of Caritas Kyiv, sums up.
Caritas center for children invited its wards – children from families in difficulties with their grandmothers – to join the celebration. To celebrate the International Day of Older Persons, center staff organized for guests interesting contests, quizzes, creative activities which involved joint participation of grandparents and grandchildren to enhance relations between generations. ‘While preparing the event, we tried to pay due attention to talented and wise people – elderly ladies our grandmothers. They are often left forgotten, but quite often they are the force which facilitates psychological climate in the families. That is why we decided to present some happiness and celebration’, center staff says. This marvelous event was finished with tea, sweets and a film watching.
The celebration in Dnipro was also very exciting. It started with congratulations and blessings from CF Caritas Donetsk Director, Father Vasyl Panteliuk, followed by a staff choir performance, soulful songs and poems from children of Child space project, participants of the Seniors and senioritas club and a touching video from TV School club of a Single Center of Social Services. Kolomyia congratulated its wards too. Visitors of a social center for children prepared a small concert programme and a shared tea drinking for the wards of the Home care project and elderly participants of the University of the Third Age. Caritas Zaporizhzhia pleased older people with a speech of a rehabilitation therapist who shared her proprietary methodology and gave advice to elderly persons how to stay healthy for a long time. The performance of a bard Volodymyr Kozerovskyi with poems of Zaporizhzhia poets set to Ukrainian songs gave zest to the celebration. Despite the age all present were singing alone and even dancing!
The International Day of Older Persons was marked with different events. All of them proved that Caritas staff cares about problems of older people as this is also the possibility to draw attention of the society to situations faced by people at old age. Caritas cares about them every day regardless celebrations, but uses this occasion to attract more attention to needs of senior people, problems of population ageing and a need to find ways to improve the quality of life to elderly people.