During the time when Ukraine was under the domination of the USSR, many people were displaced to forced labour camps in Sniatyn. In this small town of 10,000 inhabitants marked by the Second World War and the bloody progroms live in addition to ethnic Ukrainians, Russians, Belorussians, descendants of Poles and Jews as well as Armenians and Gypsies.
Threats of economic recession and payment default are not sparing Snyatin, where it is now very difficult to find work due to the bankruptcy of companies and the closure of factories. Workers are forced to find work far away from their families, with some even deciding to migrate to Poland at best. Many children are thus left in the care of aunts or grandparents, and the elderly suffer from loneliness and lack of support from their relatives.
The Daughters of Charity run a kindergarten for children from 3 to 6 years of age which they care for daily. The public daycare center is overcrowded (390 children for 240 places), and many children stay at home because of the lack of space.
The sisters who live their mission voluntarily at the service of these little ones try to give priority to the children of the most deprived families and whose both parents work without anyone to entrust them to. They try to ensure that adults are not forced to go abroad to earn a living: a direct path to broken families.
The Sniatyn sisters provide the children with a hot meal for lunch and a snack in the afternoon. They are also committed to ensuring the fullest possible development of the children. In addition to catechism, English and geography classes, singing and dance workshops are organized for them. The chance to have access to an outdoor playground also allows them to exercise even if it is not perfectly adapted to safety standards.
Unfortunately, the lack of space prevents the sisters from taking in more children as they would like. The waiting list is getting longer with 80 families hoping for a place for their child when they can only accept 14 per year.
In addition to this attention to the children, the sisters have also set up reunion programs to sensitize parents about their children's education. They realized how much these information and exchange sessions enabled many parents to anchor their educational mode around integral education.
Sr. Maria explains, "The paradox of today's world is that there is enormous access to all information, yet many errors result from a lack of knowledge. Values are no longer clear, which leads parents to make mistakes without realizing it. Freedom, love and many other values are misunderstood. Parents want to raise a free child and at the same time give them the right to everything."
A referent psychologist ensures that serene parent-child interactions are valued, as well as a priest who intervenes regularly to address issues of family relationships and make recommendations to structure the development of their children.
The sisters are very happy with the great interest that parents take in these meetings and see the lasting fruits of these changes in practice.
For Sister Maria, one of the best examples is that of the Bojczuk family:
"Orphaned since childhood, the father was only brought up in a foster home. The mother also grew up in a boarding school, as her own parents were unable to care for her and suffered from mental illness. Their 2 daughters arrived at the daycare very often neglected. Little by little as the parents' meetings went on we saw the changes take place. The pyjamas became a clean outfit every day, the dad started shaving, playing sports, etc. Today, when I look at this family, I am very proud of them. This order, this cleanliness that we are looking for in our kindergarten, they also decided to live them at home in their family cocoon. If the father did not see the need to feed his children healthily before, today he tries to keep them warm and not starve them anymore. Girls are making amazing progress."
At the monthly parents' meetings, the children are in the garden due to lack of space. But this playground is getting old and is not safe. The ground is made of earth which makes it slippery and dangerous, especially in winter.
The Daughters of Charity need to gain space to ensure safety during these times dedicated to the children and their parents. With the renovation of the courtyard and the installation of a non-slip floor, the sisters will feel more able to welcome new children safely during their parents' formation sessions.
Thanks to your help, the refurbishment of our playground allows us to serenely welcome these children and asist their parents.
A big THANK YOU for your support !
"In the art of climbing, the important thing is not to not fall, but to not stay on the ground." Pope Francis
I am Sister Maria Luptowicz, Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent in the province of Krakow.
I am currently serving in Ukraine in Sniatyn. My first ministry in the congregation was in Odessa, where I served the poor homeless and together with the community we supported drug addicts in the rehabilitation centre. Two years ago I joined the community in Sniatyn. Our community has 3 sisters. Sister Servant is responsible for the rehabilitation centre for handicapped children, which is in our house. We also have a Sister cook. I am currently in charge of the Blessed Sister Marta Wiecka's club room. I first of all take care of the children, but I also try in various ways to reach out to the parents so that Christian values become the foundation of their family.
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