25 July 2017
While visiting CNEWA’s New York offices, Andrij Waskowycz, president of Caritas Ukraine, urged the people of the West to remember the suffering people of his homeland. (photo: Greg Kandra)
We were privileged to welcome a visitor from the East to our New York offices this afternoon: Andrij Waskowycz, president of Caritas Ukraine.
He shared with our staff some of the urgent and important work his organization is undertaking in his corner of the world — in particular, he said, dealing with what he called “the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II,” which has displaced millions throughout Ukraine and parts of Eastern Europe.
Mr. Wascowycz spoke, in particular, of three areas Caritas Ukraine is focused on: assisting the elderly; serving “street children” who have been all-but-abandoned by their families; and helping confront problems in migration and human trafficking.
The needs of the Ukrainian people have only grown since the “Maidan movement” uprisings of 2013, he explained, and the staff at Caritas Ukraine has also grown — from a couple hundred a decade ago to now over 1,000.
Beyond the basic humanitarian needs of the people, he said, Caritas must also try to create a future for them: bringing them jobs and what he called “a normal life.”
“We have to assist them with their whole life,” he said. “We have these highly traumatized people and we have to assist them now and also in 10 years. This is something we have to do, to redirect ourselves.”
Caritas Ukraine, he added, is the “church in action,” but it cannot work alone.
When asked what message he’d like to convey to the world, he put it bluntly:
“Don’t forget Ukraine.”
It is a forgotten war, he said, part of “an invisible crisis,” often overlooked. It doesn’t get a lot of media coverage, or dominate the headlines. But the crisis is real and it is far from over.
“People are suffering in Ukraine,” he said quietly. “Don’t forget them.”
To learn more, check out these stories from ONE:
Out From Underground
A Letter from Ukraine
Prayer and Protest