Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
Home of Hope, a hostel for socially vulnerable girls in Lviv, Ukraine, is a product of dreams and volunteer efforts of the faithful from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton. Over ten years ago, the parishioners of the eparchy started helping vulnerable girls who found themselves in dramatic realities of the post-soviet Ukraine. The hostel is run by the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it especially difficult for the hostel to operate as the residents had to stay together under lockdown for a long time. Some of the girls got infected with COVID and had to self-isolate at the Home of Hope as they did not have anywhere else to go.
The years 2020-2021 have been the most challenging for Home of Hope also in terms of additional expenses for food, medication and utilities. The government subsidies for utilities payments for the hostel amount to CAD 45 – CAD 120 per quarter. At the same time, the total cost of utilities for the third quarter of 2021 was CAD 3,435.
Home of Hope has been supported by the Eparchy of Edmonton, the Rotary Club of Burnaby, the Lubov Foundation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate based in Winnipeg and in other cities, as well as by donors from Ukraine. In 2021, the Eparchy of Edmonton donated more than CAD 10,000 to the Canadian office of CNEWA towards the Home of Hope project.
Since its opening, 69 girls graduated from Home of Hope where they lived from 2 to 5 years. Currently, there are 23 girls at the hostel.
Home of Hope accepts girls who come from most difficult circumstances: orphans, those who have suffered from various types of violence and, in particular, those who come from the warzone in eastern Ukraine. Many girls come to the hostel with behavioral and mental issues, most of them initially lack social and household skills, and have a hard time trusting others. The Sisters strive to build trusting relationships with the girls and help them overcome their traumas. There have been numerous examples where the girls have become more open and responsible, have built positive relationships with the others and made good progress in their studies. Many have become devoted Christians.
Most of the graduates are now employed and live in rental rooms or apartments in Ukraine, some girls have emigrated. Some girls got married, have children and are good wives and mothers, in spite of their difficult personal experiences in their families. Some of the graduates’ weddings took place in Home of Hope.
A majority of the graduates keep in touch with the Sisters, congratulate them on their birthdays, visit the hostel on holidays, sometimes with their husbands and children. Sometimes, the graduates turn to the Sisters for advice or share their life experiences with them.
Some of the girls though do not keep in touch with the Sisters. Sister Yeronima Vovchak notes that those girls had difficulties accepting assistance in relieving their childhood trauma while at Home of Hope. On a positive note, Sister Yeronima, the director of Home of Hope, notes, these girls did learn certain skills at Home of Hope and she hopes that they will someday open up to positive changes.
Anyone who would like to donate towards this project is welcome to visit cnewa.ca or call CNEWA at 1-866-322-4441.