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Ukraine – Over 400 Christmas packages from Czech donors were hand out in Ukraine a few days ago by employees of the Archdiocesan Charity Olomouc (ACHO). They went to the Charities in Ternopil and Kolomyja, to the social center with the children in need fund in Lopatyně, the children’s home in Bortnyky, and home to those children, who were ill and could not come for gifts. For example, they visited a fourteen-year-old girl with a brain atrophy cared for by her grandfather. Mom sees her only four times a year. She works as a nurse abroad to support her family and not lose her housing. Nothing else left…

Many families of gifted children live in poor conditions. The director of ACHO Václav Keprt looked at individual households during the years when Caritas in Ukraine helps. “You’ll come to a living room, for example, and go straight to the barn. One woman was heating the room again by having one gas stove hot plate. It was the only possible source of heating. When it is cooked, it is warm, but gas is expensive, so it is a problem. In the past I saw an iron pipe drilled through the rusty pan in the middle of the room and gas burned from it. This is directly dangerous to life,” says Václav Keprt.

More than ten years ago, he was at the birth of the Christmas Package project. For the first time he carried a few Christmas gifts in a personal car to a children’s home in Bortnyki. Since then, thanks to Czech donors, the number of packages has increased, with more than 400 delivered this year. In addition, gifts make children and other cities and villages happy.

For children who have at least one parent who cares for them, the package is primarily a material aid. It needs the necessary clothes and shoes. “Parents and grandparents tell me, that they can pay rent, gas, food – what is needed to live, for the money they save thanks to the packages,” says Vaclav Keprt, saying that, on the contrary, children from children’s homes are not so much on the other hand. They suffer from emotional distress and wonder that they are costing someone from abroad to buy something for them or something they need. “This year we were discussing this with older boys from the children’s home in Bortnyky. They asked why people do it for them. I replied that from the goodness of the heart, from the love of the people, some from the love of the Lord God. Although they do not meet children, they want to express their responsibility for the fate of man, wherever he may be. The boys then said that once they made their money and had their money, they would also help someone who needed it. That the help, the good deed, will go on…,” continues Václav Keprt.

ACHO announces Christmas Package every year. People of goodwill can choose from a list of children who want to please. They often send clothes, shoes, stationery, and toys like balls, dolls, and jigsaws. It is the same as in our country. They are happy about everything, boys most of sports equipment and technical stuff, girls in an orphanage immediately showed cosmetics, clothes and stuffed animals… Joy to children also makes beautiful messages that some donors in the package send.

THANK YOU to Czech donors for thinking about others and for their creativity in choosing gifts for Ukrainian children. It is about great help and joy at the same time.

Karolína Opatřilová, Archidiocese of Olomouc

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