Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion our organization launched new branches of work related to providing support to the vulnerable groups, namely humanitarian aid program aimed at elderly women and free childcare services for internally displaced persons.
Elderly women’s support program and neighborliness program
Elderly women belong to vulnerable populations, and in wartime they become even more vulnerable. Prices of food and medicines are skyrocketing, while pensions of many elderly women don’t come close to covering their basic needs.Store shelves are not always filled with goods that are familiar and affordable for elderly women, and it may be hard for them to get to the hypermarket due to health reasons. That is why within our project young volunteers provide elderly women with humanitarian aid and emotional support. It is equally important to develop neighborly relations and strengthen the community on different levels — from youth to elderly people. That is why our program is built to help volunteers connect with elderly women that live in the neighborhood. Volunteers may take care of the elderly women they already know or get to know them thanks to the program. Sometimes it is more than grocery delivery. This is also emotional support, friendly chat, and help with household chores.
Free childcare services
We also offer free babysitting services for women that had to flee their cities. It helps to ease the burden on mothers and allows them to work, engage in volunteering, deal with paperwork and other pressing matters or have some rest. Our nanny is a qualified volunteer, 28 year-old Ivanka who herself had fled the East of Ukraine. She received pedagogical education (Industrial-Pedagogical Professional College, Taras Shevchenko National University of Luhansk). Ivanka takes kids for a walk, facilitates their leisure activities in friendly urban spaces, creates art together with children and helps them to study. “Feminist workshop” has a space with everything necessary for work with children: bathroom, toilet, kitchen, office, and play area.
Third month since launching new branches of work: how do we work
Elderly women’s support program
Since the establishment of the program we got to know many elderly women. Their life stories may be different but their needs are similar — food, medicines, attention, emotional support. Some of them are left all alone and receive no support, others live with their relatives but still need help. Some have elderly husbands with health conditions or disabled kids, while others are the sole wage-earners that bring up their grandchildren.
Elderly women who received help from volunteers
Our small volunteer team had visited 28 elderly women from different neighborhoods. Some women were visited multiple times. Among these women there were internally displaced persons from Eastern regions of the country. At times volunteer help went beyond our expectations – sometimes things got harder than we imagined. However, our efforts have also brought inspirational results: we got one woman a workspace at the sewing workshop and helped her with her first order. Volunteers helped another woman when she was facing her illness alone, as relatives couldn’t get to her in time.
Our professional volunteer nanny Ivanka had helped families of internally displaced persons that asked for our help individually, and had spent time with their kids. On June 1 we opened the shelter for internally displaced women and children. For now there are 7 kids in the shelter. Ivanka facilitates their leisure and learning activities. Organizing interesting activities for kids always belonged to her priorities, and she uses this approach when working with the shelter residents.
Our volunteer spends time with children living in the FM shelter
That’s how children went to the eco-center located on Kubanska, 12. Our nanny wanted to keep the event interesting for children of different ages, and visiting the eco-center was fascinating even for moms. Mira, resident of our shelter for the activists, helped Ivanka. Yan, Ivanka’s friend who works at the eco-center, gave children a tour. This event was both cheerful and interesting. Children got to know more about animals and plants that they saw at the eco-center, and spent good time in the fresh air.
In addition to events for kids held in friendly spaces, Ivanka visits the shelter several times a week and spends time with children. Together they play games, make art, and study. We have a special area in the shelter stocked with everything necessary for work with children – games, everything for art and learning.
Our volunteer team is composed of great and motivated women. Together we brainstorm on the ways to develop the program further. We hold coordination meetings two to four times a month to share our emotions, discuss our communications with elderly women, conceptualize possible improvements, and plan next visits. Our volunteers contribute greatly to the program, and it inspires us to keep working.
Some of the volunteers of the elderly women's support program
Similarly to activism, volunteering may be invigorating or exhausting. This is why it’s important to take a rest and control the level of involvement, both physical and emotional. We also aspire to create the atmosphere of unity both at the work meetings and during leisure activities. Saturday, on June 4 we got together at the pottery workshop led by the volunteer Nadya Sobko, and we are already arranging the next meeting where we will glaze our works.
Text: Feminist Workshop's managers Anastasiia-Liubov and Ivanka Tranlation: Kira Leonova