Social initiatives – How to reduce orphan numbers in Ukraine (and other things)?

February 2, 2012

Ukraine is well known to those in the western world for many things.  Beautiful women, gas disputes, stoically holding up so many nations in so many international league tables by under performing, and sadly Ukraine, like so many former Communist nations, is also known for orphans.

Now it is popular to believe that this is due to the death of parents but that is just not so.

Ukraine currently has 96.000 orphans and is adding approximately 10,000 each year.  Predominantly this figure is reached not by death of parents but by the State arbitrarily removing parental rights.  That is not to say there are necessary reasons for the State to intervene in certain circumstances, there is and always will be times when the State must carry out its duty to protect the vulnerable.

However, what is patently clear from the remarks of Sergey Tigipko in the above link, is that there is insufficient State assistance in keeping families together in the first place, and secondly a woeful lack of State encouragement when it comes to fostering or adoption within Ukraine.

Now it is quite right and proper for this issue to be raised but the question of financing both the State support and support for prospective foster/adoptive parents will undoubtedly prove to be difficult to provide during a time when revenues are low.  (See yesterday’s post)

It is of course, not the only area in Ukrainian society that is underfunded and under resourced.  Choose any category of vulnerable people, disabled, battered women, mentally ill etc. and a similarly overstretched public purse presents the major barrier to effective remedies by government alone.

Generally Ukrainians are very friendly people and theirs hearts, for the most part, are certainly in the right place, but you have to wonder where the voluntary sector of Ukrainian society is.

For sure it will exist but there is no overt presence.  There are no community action awareness broadcasts on television to rouse those who would rally to a cause donating either time or money.  Radio is just the same in its lack of promotion of such issues.

The only community awareness  programme that really comes to mind is that for the use of contraception to prevent the spread of HIV.  That is regularly broadcast on most television channels but is also, in a large part, due to international funding from the UN, EU and some domestic revenue by Ukrainian government.  It is of course as worthy a cause as any other and overtly promoting prevention rather than cure is absolutely the right thing to do and far cheaper in the long term.

You may argue that contraception is a personal responsibility when it comes to the prevention of contracting or spreading sexual diseases and you will have a point.  The abdicating of personal responsibility to the State is an issue that runs throughout society not only in Ukraine.  You may wonder why so many $ millions are spend reminding educated Ukrainian people of their personal responsibilities  over such obvious issues as sexually transmitted diseases and risk reduction through use of condoms, when a child should not be responsible for raising itself or a disabled individual be held responsible for ramps into shops, transportation that accommodates wheelchairs etc.

I cannot answer those questions and I do not hold the purse strings to aid when it comes to international or national funds or causes.

What I can say is that there is a quite noticeable lack of promotion when it comes to causes, a noticeable lack of promotion of these issues and any local organisations that are involved with such causes within local government to encourage local people to get involved however they can.  There isn’t even a list of such organisations on the Odessa City website when to be quite honest, I could create such a web page and link in under 10 minutes given the content.

So, whilst worrying about how to finance and promote the plight of orphans, maybe Mr Tigipko would do well to start with the basics and collate a list of causes, relevant NGOs and voluntary institutions applicable to each region and instruct all city and town councils in Ukraine to promote them through all avenues available to them?  A volunteer is far better than 10 pressed men as the saying goes, but where do people volunteer?  Surely that is a starting point and surely a completely obvious one!

Come along Mr Tigipko, of all the completely useless politicians across all parties in Ukraine, I didn’t have you in that category.  In fact until Strong Ukraine assimilated borg-like into the PoR, there was hope that Strong Ukraine and Front for Change would eventually replace the recycled Soviet corrupt and self-serving remnants of the political hangover that is Bloc Tymoshenko and Party of Regions.  For certain both Arseney Yatseniuk and yourself seem to be the only options to the existing exceptionally poor choice between Yanukovych and Tymoshenko (who are equally unpalatable as each other).  Surely you are capable of compiling a list regionally and forcing the regions to promote them.  Society may surprise you and help lift the burden from the State without throwing huge amounts of money at the problem until Ukraine is in a position to throw huge amounts of money at the problem.

As for me?  Well I am about to email HM Embassy in Kyiv as well as Odessa City Hall and find out if they have any such list for Odessa and if so, as if by magic, a suitable permanent web page to this blog will appear on receipt of any such information!


  1. […] on 2nd February I pondered social initiatives in Ukraine in response to a statement by Sergey […]

  2. […] on 2nd February I pondered social initiatives in Ukraine in response to a statement by Sergey […]

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