Forgotten Victims Series
Our first article in the Forgotten Victims series is from Natalia Chuykova, the president of With Heart to Good Deeds Foundation. This organization, based in Kyiv, provides medical care for children with special needs living in institutions and supports wounded Ukrainian soldiers.
Natalia Chuykova, With Heart to Good Deeds
There are 24 regions in Ukraine. There is one orphanage for children with special needs in every region. Children who live there are suffering from severe physical and mental disorders.
Back in September 2014, our team went to the orphanage for children with special needs in the small town of Novohrad-Volynsky, Zhytomyr Region, for the first time. The purpose of our visit was to check the situation there. We heard a lot about poverty in the orphanages in Ukraine which are funded by the government (all of them actually depend on the state funds), but we were shocked to see the real situation there.
The very first thing we saw there was a small rickety house. Later on we found out that it’s a home for babies (from 0 to 3 years old). The windows in this house are so old and in such a bad condition they cannot keep a home warm in the winter. Moreover, there are about 30 kids in this house and there is not enough space for all of them, so some babies are forced to sleep on a terrace in the strollers all the time.
The second thing we saw was a road in a terrible condition. There are many kids who are able to move around on the wheelchairs only. This road makes it impossible. Then we went to the second, a newer house, located near by the old one. The rooms are also tiny there. It’s a home for kids from 3 to 7 years old. Because of the lack of space, children with HIV are living in the same room with children with autism. The beds are located so close to each other an adult can barely move there.
There are about 50 seriously ill children living there. Their parents do not financially support them so all of them totally depend on the state funds. The Ukrainian government allocates 4.09 UAH, which is less then US 20 cents, to each kid for medical care per day. For example, Ukrainian made aspirin cost 42 UAH which is $2. The government has no money to provide special pharmaceutical support.
These children are not taken to the hospitals as often as they need it. The reason is the same, the government has no chance to pay for it, and even though medical care is still free in Ukraine, in reality you have to pay money to get any medical care. I would like to give one example. In January 2015, a 2- year old girl, Masha, was brought to the orphanage for children with special needs in Novohrad-Volynsky. She lived with a mom who was an alcoholic. Masha was hungry for days and was not taken care of by her parents at all. When she arrived to the Orphanage she was extremely scared. The first thing for the doctors was to check her health condition. She didn’t speak. Instead of taking her to the hospital for health exams and tests, the doctor on duty who works in Orphanage just started calling her by her name. Masha was in terribly bad condition and, of course, did not react to it. The doctor wrote that she is deaf in her medical history. When in April we took Masha to the Medical Center «Dr. ENT» in Kyiv, the results showed she is not deaf but she needs an urgent surgery.
Why did With Heart To Good Deeds Foundation decide to provide medical care to orphans? If children who live in the orphanages for children with special needs in Ukraine don’t get a proper medical care by the time they turn 7-8 years old, they will be transferred to the Nursing homes. These institutions are struggling from the poverty even worse then orphanages. People who live there usually die by the age of 30. However, with a proper medical care and necessary pharmaceutical support many of these kids can be cured and when they turn 7 years old they will be healthy enough to go to the boarding school where they will get a high school diploma and a chance to succeed in life.
To learn more about the With Heart to Good Deeds Foundation, please go to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WithHeartToGoodDeedsFoundation. Send direct inquiries to President Natalia Chuykova at firstname.lastname@example.org.