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IDPs in Zaporizhia region receive aid from Pope Francis

Olga VereshchakaFrom the very beginning of the project as part of the Initiative “Pope for Ukraine”, from 1 January to 28 February 2017, the medical office of Caritas-Spes-Zaporizhia received nearly 800 people from among the IDPs.

A medical office of Caritas-Spes, where the internally displaced persons from Donetsk and Lugansk regions can get advice and direct assistance in the form of medical drugs and hygiene items, is operating in Zaporizhia at the Catholic Church of God the Merciful Father. The medical office aims to improve the quality of life of these people and serve them by simple acts of charity.

Thanks to the funding within the Initiative “Pope for Ukraine” during the two coldest winter months about 800 persons from among the IDPs who are now living in Zaporizhia and localities of Zaporizhia region received the necessary medical care, medicines, baby and adult diapers, baby food, and comprehensive advice of doctors and social workers.

Olga Vereshchaka, a cardiologist of the city cardiac intensive care team has been working for more than 20 years in the ambulance, and now leads the medical office of Caritas-Spes Zaporizhia. The doctor told about her work as part of the Initiative, as well as the people with whom their team worked for two months last winter.

“First, the people got acquainted with the social worker, who recorded their data and helped collect the documents and complete the questionnaire. Then the patients were referred to a doctor. I inspect a patient and help pick up the necessary medicines according to the diagnosis.

It is not always the medical advice that the patients seek. Most of them just want to talk to a doctor. Often there were cases when people just needed to talk and hear words of support and hope. In a way the medical office compensates the lack of communication for people who have suffered traumatic experiences of war and were forced to leave their homes, and some of them have witnessed tragedies during the combat action, when they saw injury and death with their own eyes,” Ms Olga told.


According to the doctors, in the recent period it was mostly the people with cardiovascular diseases, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, diabetes, diseases of the central nervous system, as well as families with disabled children who turned for assistance.

The IDPS who have chronic illnesses or lost relatives in the war needed psychological assistance the most. Therefore, the experts involved in the work of the medical office were treating not only bodies but also the souls of people coming to them.

The medical office received a huge number of patients in Zaporizhia. But IDPs from the combat zone living in rural areas and the areas remote from the regional center of Zaporizhia region required special attention within the Initiative “Pope for Ukraine.” In particular, those residing in Prymorsk, Pologiv, Melitopil, Gulyaypole, Tokmak, Novomykolaiv regions. The aid is provided in close cooperation with local volunteers and initiative groups of IDPs who have been working here since the beginning of the war and the surge of migration.