Today’s widows in Ukraine are having a hard time of things. The majority of them live alone in the most dismal conditions, without husband or children. Most are sick, fearful of the future, lonely and malnourished. They are the survivors of hard times — tragedies we can hardly imagine — suffered under the former Communist regime. They long for love, safety and community.
Now they can live out the remaining years of their lives in just such an environment. In 2008, after considerable prayer and research, we constructed two homes for the elderly, one Chervonoarmejsk and the other in Koreston. Each can accommodate approximately eight to 10 widows.
Our goal is to provide a warm, caring community where the basic needs of the elderly are met. Each widow is treated with dignity and respect and is assured of adequate food, clothing, shelter, medicine, hospice care and a Christian burial. For many of them, it’s a lifesaver. Nila, whose son moved to Russia after her husband died, said, “This now is my family.”
We also recognize the need for the widows to remain active and useful. Each widow is given the opportunity to continue to work in some area of interest. All are encouraged to share responsibility for cooking, cleaning and caring for each other.
“Real religion is to care for the orphans and widows in their distress.“ (James 1:27).
Though the programs in our two homes vary somewhat because of location and administration, each home provides opportunities for reading, exercising, listening to music, playing games, sharing in Bible studies, and enjoying each other’s company. In Pulyny, we have developed the following programs:
Once a week widows from the community join our resident widows in the community room for tea, friendship, conversation and cultural enrichment. A local pastor often comes to sing and lead the group in Bible studies.
Opportunities for spiritual nurture and growth are provided on a regular basis. These are led by Nadia Petryk, one of the widows, who has responsibility for the general well-being of the residents and the home. Our Widows House in Chervonoarmejsk Widows are given the opportunity to participate in a variety of work projects, including the preparation of meals, work in the kitchen garden, the cultivation of plants in the green house, and the beautification of the yard.
Though each widow pays approximately $135./month for her stay in the home, it is not enough to sustain the cost of providing the necessary care. To help subsidize the cost, we have developed a program where each widow can be adopted. For just $30/mo. or $360/year, you can adopt a widow of your choice. That’s only a dollar a day. But the joy of knowing you are caring for one of these dear old babushkas is more than you will ever know.