CNEWA Canada

Caritas Ukraine President Visits CNEWA

Tetiana Stawnychy, president of Caritas Ukraine, visited CNEWA headquarters in New York on 17 November to discuss Caritas Ukraine’s priorities and the needs within the country amid the ongoing war.

A national umbrella organization with a number of offices set up in local Greek Catholic communities, Caritas Ukraine has reached 2,995,000 unique beneficiaries, totaling more than 4,992,000 services, since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022. Still, more than 17.6 million Ukrainians need humanitarian assistance, 3.67 million of whom are internally displaced people.

Ms. Stawnychy highlighted two focal points of the organization, with Caritas’s response varying by regional needs. On the front line and along the borders, the primary focus is on the provision of basic necessities, such as food, water, hygiene and shelter. In liberated or de-occupied areas, much of the infrastructure has been destroyed, so the response focuses on stabilization, with psychosocial support and social integration as examples. For the rest of the country, primarily in the west, a high number of the displaced need humanitarian assistance, and there is a strain on medical, education and social service systems.

An ongoing priority of Caritas Ukraine is responding to the needs of children, she said, particularly regarding psychosocial support and education. The war has damaged or destroyed more than 3,200 educational facilities, and many schools closed for online learning, leaving 5.3 million children without access to education.

Ms. Stawnychy expressed concern for children of all ages, pre-school through secondary school, whose lives have been fundamentally altered, first by COVID-19 and now by the war. Many young children have not been learning how to read or write, she said.

She said once the war is over, schools should not focus on getting children “back on track” in their education, but on creating “new tracks” and using teaching methodologies that will address the trauma and the learning experiences the children lived through during the war.

Ms. Stawnychy spoke of the healing that occurs for Caritas Ukraine staff, volunteers and beneficiaries, despite the challenges and tragedy facing Ukraine, in what she referred to as “the spirituality of encounter.” Caritas does not just deliver boxes of food or other aid, she explained, but fosters human connections and relationships.

The resulting environment is one that respects the dignity of beneficiaries and makes a profound impact on their lives. Many displaced people assisted by Caritas decide to volunteer with the organization; according to Ms. Stawnychy, 40 percent of volunteers and approximately 400 staff members are officially registered as internally displaced persons.

CNEWA’s has continued to support Caritas Ukraine’s humanitarian relief through the war, including food packages, psychosocial support and housing for the displaced. Your donation can support the dedicated work of Caritas Ukraine.

Olivia Poust is assistant editor of ONE.

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