About hundred people gathered in a small square near Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi railway station. The local church community organized a free lunch and all the needy could have a snack and tea. In the queue you could see a wide variety of people, mostly not looking like typical homeless.
Free lunch at this place has become a kind of tradition in recent years. “Parasolka” (“Umbrella”), one of charities helping the needy and homeless, gave it three times a week before the war. Volunteers raised funds through social networks; some of them brought and cooked food.
Because of the war, many Ukrainians lost job and housing. They have to rely on humanitarian aid. Free lunches could help, but they were suspended for a while due to danger and wartime restrictions. Volunteers continued to distribute products to those in need in limited volumes. Now they renew free lunch tradition.
Kristina has been volunteered in “Parasolka” for a year. She lives near railway station so she can often visit and help homeless who live at the station. “We used to feed some two hundred needy at the station three times a week. Now some come to my house, I cook for them every day and feed 5-10 people in the yard. Sometimes homeless ask to wash their things, “says Kristina.
Kyiv, like the whole Eastern Europe with its continental climate, is not the best place for homeless, they may simply freeze to death on city streets in winter. In cold season a tent near the station serves as a feeding and warming drop-in centre. Homeless also receive medical care here and the other help.
“Theft cases are pretty usual at the railroad. Without documents you won’t be even allowed to hide in bomb shelter. We try to help those who ask to restore stolen documents and to buy a ticket back home,” says Kristina.
In this way volunteers helped Oleg and Sergey who came from Kramatorsk (war zone now) and were robbed. Now they live in a hostel and take part charitable work. They deliver products to old people and send humanitarian aid to Kharkov – the other activities of “Parasolka”.
“Our volunteers care for older people, clean their houses, wash dishes, etc. They also look after animals in abandoned flats – the owners send the keys to by mail,” says Kristina.
Its apartment, located near the train station, as well as the apartment of her neighbor, has turned into a “transit hub” for humanitarian aid. It comes mainly from western regions of the country where now live those people who participated in volunteer work in Kyiv before. The funds raised are used to buy food on the wholesale market.
All that is distributed at the requests of poor in Kyiv, and sent to Kharkov where humanitarian situation remains difficult due to ongoing fighting.
In Kharkov humanitarian aid is distributed by their colleagues.
“There are several such charitable organizations which now collect and distribute the aid in Kyiv and other cities of Ukraine, “says Christina. Since the beginning of the war, “Parasolka” has distributed in Kyiv, Kharkov and Kharkov region more than 5 tons of food.