British Humanitarian Aid

Registered Charity - 1031547.      11, Devon Road, Canterbury, CT1 1RP     Tel. 01227 453434

Founder Director: Rev. Tony Budell.   Director: Philip Edmonds.   Accounts: Valerie Budell.


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A determined effort in the summer managed to get several of the rooms ready at the old people’s home we have been creating in Vaganichi. It is not completely ready for use, as I called a halt on the work so that we could make sure that plans for running the home were really secure. We also needed to make sure that all the work was done to a proper standard and the required certifications obtained. There is a tendency in Ukraine for people to do things “unofficially” by slipping a donation to local officials especially at village level. This is obviously completely unacceptable to us and we are currently negotiating for the church to run the finished home. The priest is sensible enough to want to make sure it is a viable proposition.

        During the latter part of 2015 I had become aware that Nadia (Piglet mother) form Vaganichi was starting to struggle after the loss of her husband. Her care for the family, the farm, the plans for the old people’s home, the charity and particularly planning for the future of all the children were all suffering. The cheese production was making money but had escalated out of control and she and the children were exhausted. Eventually, things got so bad that she needed extended periods of hospitalisation which we helped to finance. A serious conversation with her about the future led me to discover that she had no concrete plans for anything, preferring to chase her dreams with impractical spur of the moment decisions. The paper work legally required for the new charity had not been maintained and it took a great deal of help from Aratta to sort out the problems caused.  She appeared to have suffered a complete mental melt down and her insistence on doing things “the old way” was putting everything at risk. Her response, following suggestions that she needed to seek help, made it became quite clear that she is unable to work with others as she wants total control. We are continuing to monitor the situation and are trying to make sure that the children at least end up with a stable future (perhaps secure would be a better word than stable!). The Charity has been put on hold as we are not supplying further aid but will make sure that the local villages continue to receive help via other means.

During the summer we provided sports equipment for a holiday camp in Sedniv for children from several of the local orphanages, help for riverside camp near Mena for 70 parents and children from the Parents’ Voice Charity. We also helped with the successful Festival for Handicapped, held in Sribne in October, which was organised by Natasha from the “Strength in Unity” charity. The difference that these events make, and the joy it puts into the participants lives cannot be underestimated. Children from Snovsk Aratta (formerly Shchors!) joined those from Makosheno at the successful annual camp with the English students that was again organised by Benn Smith.  Chernihiv Aratta families also had an excellent time at “the blue lakes”.

Parents’ Voice has an exciting new project with which we are already involved. They have obtained from the Chernihiv Council an ex-utilities building which they are converting into a “day centre” for handicapped children, their parents and families. The independent charity, originally formed after an Aratta project, was to give a voice to those parents who were brave enough to defy society’s disapproval, and the lack of state support, and keep their handicapped children at home. Ukraine’s attitude towards the disabled lags far behind the more enlightened approaches in most European countries. The parents are in many cases made to feel guilt because their child is imperfect and society would seem to prefer that these children were “out of sight and out of mind” in an institution somewhere. The centre will have rooms and facilities for treatment, for socialisation, for rest and for recreation. The authorities are funding two members of staff for the centre so that disabled children will not need their parents in attendance all the time. This will give the parents some time for other children, and importantly for themselves. There is some renovation and redecoration needed and we are very grateful to Mike Ayres Designs in Suffolk for an extremely generous donation of tactile panels and soft play equipment. It is estimated that there are over 100 children in Chernihiv for whom there is currently no regular support of this type.

Philip G Edmonds

2.12.2015