Posts Tagged ‘charity’

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Happy New Year – And a moment to acknowledge you all!

December 31, 2015

Customary it is appears to have become to regurgitate “most read” or “favourite” posts throughout 2015 as the year inevitably draws to a close – this blog won’t.

Instead this last entry of 2015 will take the opportunity to wish a Happy New Year each and every one of the 130,000 readers who either mistakenly (in all probability), or deliberately (rather flatteringly) took their time – or indeed wasted their time – rummaging around in the meandering ruminations presented here, coping heroically with the grammatical errors and limited vocabulary that provide proof, if needed, that little time or effort is given to the daily offerings published.

Of the 130,000 readers that visited more than once, then it is humbling – or perhaps a rather sad reflection that there is such a limited commentary upon Ukraine (and Odessa) in the English language that you were forced to return through lack of alternatives.

Further thanks must go to the politicians, local, national, and foreign, that have sought out this blog for the off the record chats during 2015 when passing through Odessa.  Likewise, the same thanks goes to the diplomats both domestic and foreign who form an often under-acknowledged front line for Ukraine.  The erudite and informative conversations are always something of a joy – even when they simply can’t be repeated.

To the publishers and editors that have requested (paid) essays from this blog after reading it, then a humble thank you (as well as thousands of words) is all that can be offered.  The blog was never intended as a “teaser” to attract work.

For those journalists whom will request interviews and “for the record” comment in 2016, the same answer to that of 2015 (and years previous) will apply – The answer remains “No”.

To the think-tanks, GONGOs, NGOs and civil society people who sought an exchange of views during 2015, and to those that jetted your author around Europe to take part in round-tables and to sit on panels full of people far more enlightened and erudite, sincere gratitude is all that can be expressed.  There is no better outcome than to leave such events with new ideas, thoughts to ponder, or perhaps most importantly new and intellectually challenging friends.

It is also time for a confession to all those that pressed the “Donate” button on the blog Home Page during 2015 and sent their hard earned money not really knowing how that money would be spent.

A pittance ($24.95) from the far larger grand total received was spent on a banner/logo – self indulgence.

The rest was given to various charities/NGOs and/or impromptu acts of kindness for the needy as witnessed when wandering aimlessly around Odessa – (such as selecting a random pensioner and buying food for a week when witnessing them weighing and pricing a single potato to stretch their meager pension that little further).

However, for those having somewhat blindly pressed “donate” and sent money, then hopefully some integrity is projected by the blog to earn such trust, and thus you will understand the morality of the author in “further donating” your hard earned money to causes and people far more in need (and far more deserving), even if it was meant for the betterment of the blog.  For those that pressed “donate” with intent of buying the author a beer, and are therefore disappointed that no beer was bought – apologies, your forgiveness is sought, but be assured that many a prayer has been offered for you by many pensioners in many Orthodox churches in Odessa for your (redirected (and perhaps unintended)) kindness.

2016 will not see the princely sum of $24.95 spent on more blog aesthetics, so in all probability all “donations” will be “further donated” ad hoc to various needy causes/people – for 2016 will remain a hard year for many in Odessa and Ukraine.

When it comes to thanks, it would be entirely remiss not to thank those largely unknown soldiers on the eastern front doing their duty, and all those volunteers that work anonymously and tirelessly to support them – and support the other areas of Ukrainian life where the State is failing.

Such people are a constant and perhaps troubling reminder of just how underutilised our time or abilities – or both – actually are in comparison.

With that, a Happy New Year for 2016 is wished to all – and for those that will continue to face seemingly unending fecklessness when dealing with the Ukrainian establishment and institutions, some wise words from a wise man that will continue to stand the test of time, and that will hopefully restore your constitution before dragging the feckless kicking and screaming into doing what is necessary – “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own.” – Marcus Aurelius.

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Normal service (such as it is) will resume in 2016, with the same aim of giving you something about Ukraine to read during your coffee break.

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Buying an extra gift this Christmas – Odessa

November 27, 2015

It had been mulled as to write a few words about the “decommunisation laws” and the change of street names in Odessa – or not – as none have yet changed as of today.

But something has caught the eye of the blog that seems worthy of a little promotion (and yes there are always charitable and humanitarian causes worthy of raising) in a timely manner.

In Odessa, a scheme has been launched All-Ukrainian Action Group to buy an extra gift this year and/or to act as Santa Claus and/or the Snow Maiden, for children suffering from the effects of the war, economic, and family difficulties – or in some cases a combination therefore.  We are thus talking of orphans, IDPs, children of ATO families with absent parents, low-income families etc.

According to organizers, the most coveted gifts for children are:

  • crayons, paints, markers,
  • colouring, books, games,
  • soaps, toothpaste, shampoos,
  • soft toys, jewelry and accessories, casket,
  • clothes (warm clothes, hats, scarves, mittens, sweaters)

Volunteers of the charity fund “Good Samaritans” will repack all gifts brought into colorful and bright packaging.   During the evening of the Orthodox Christmas 6 and 7 January 2016, all gifts will be handed to children.   The last date for donations being 25th December 2015 to allow for sorting, wrapping and distribution across the oblast.

Last year the people of Odessa gathered 2,500 gifts across the 27 points collection points. This year, there appears to be more collections points than in 2014.

Gift collection points, addresses, telephone numbers and a website are displayed above.

Worthy of a mention as almost 25% of the readers of this blog have Ukrainian IPs and have a month to search their soul – So take the hint!

Back to policy, politics, fecklessness and the usual subject matter tomorrow.

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NGOs and charities in Ukraine – How to verify they are genuine

March 6, 2012

Back on 2nd February I pondered social initiatives in Ukraine in response to a statement by Sergey Tigipko.

In the final paragraph of that entry I wrote “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!”

You will have noted no permanent web page has appeared on the blog relating to this matter.  That is about to change.

Yesterday I received a reply from Deputy Head of Mission HM Embassy Kyiv with some rather valuable links to sources listing NGOs and charities registered in Ukraine and a way to search to see if those you are donating to are indeed registered in Ukraine.

Needless to say registration is important.  Whilst some unregistered NGOs and charities may not be a scam (and others may well be so), issues arise when trying to import charitable donations tax free when you discover the charity is not registered.  Also there could well be issues when donating to a NGO that is not registered in Ukraine, working without government knowledge, and subsequently you find yourself banned from entry into Ukraine for unwittingly sponsoring a nefarious organisation.

My sincere advice is to know as much as possible about the NGO or charity your are supporting rather than simply looking at the stated cause.

Anyway, HM Embassy has forwarded this link relating to the registered entities in Ukraine and also this link which allows you to search for registered entities by name.

Therefore you good readers have no excuse for donating to unregistered charities or NGOs any longer and can be assured of their legal existence in Ukraine, thus mitigating any unpleasant surprises in the future.

A small round of applause for Deputy Head of Mission at HM Embassy Kyiv who has not been in Ukraine very long, is no doubt on a very steep learning curve at present, and yet still found the time to read this blog and respond to my email.

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Social projects contests – Odessa City

February 22, 2012

Well, over at the Odessa City website there is a competition for social projects for the city.

Great!

Well actually, not that great.

You would think that as the City is holding the competition, the winners who have the most viable scheme would have their scheme implemented by the City.  What an ultimate outcome for anybody putting in the time and considerable effort to come up with effective strategies to deal with some of the City’s biggest social problems, and given the enormous amount of negative PR the Odessa Mayor has had, what a perfect opportunity to go some way to turning that around

You would of course be quite wrong.

The social policies the people of Odessa are invited to look at are all indeed very worthy:

The contest started on February 6, 2012, and the deadline for applying is set on March 6, 2012.  Prize money comes from the City budget.

– social protection of invalids and their social and psychological rehabilitation;
– fighting homelessness, kids neglect and homelessness;
– AIDS, HIV-infection and drug addiction prevention in Odessa;
– assisting employment and active longevity of the elderly people;
– social servicing of the gravely ill (at home and in hospitals);
– assisting the development populations self-organization in Odessa;
– solving youths social problems;
– creating the necessary conditions for preservation the national originality and ethnic identity of Odessa’s national and cultural communities;
– assisting the activity of veterans social associations and social protection of their members;
– increasing the importance and social status of invalids social associations in the society, protection of rights and fundamental liberties of their members;
– ecological problems of social direction.

Sadly, rather than the City implementing any winning social project, in actual fact, for the winners there is a prize fund of UAH 850,000 ($106,250) of which a maximum of UAH 75,000 ($9375) will go to any individual winning project.  One can only question, with such major social projects as these, just how much difference the paltry maximum prize of  $9375 will make to any of the projects.

Of course I appreciate such projects are always happy to receive funds from where ever they may come from.  I also acknowledge that some effort has gone in to this announcement and to try and invigorate the community in the social development of the city.  All quite right, all very civic minded and all should be actively welcomed – and I do welcome it in so far as it goes.

The issue, such as I have one, relates to the awards relative to the extremely hard work required to put together a sensible project that can be effectively implemented with a maximum known revenue stream of a singular payment of $9375.

Now I have several ideas that could, with some effort, be submitted by the deadline.  In fact I have had ideas adopted by the City via the old Mayor.  What I do not have time for is running such projects, at least for the next 12 months, due to other commitments.

What I will no doubt end up doing,   during what I hope will be a slower period for me this summer, is submitting them via a neighbour who happens to be a politician and allowing him to take the political brownie points outside the scope of this City sponsored competition.

Anyway enough of my muttering, all you civic minded readers, there is the competition, what can you do to improve the society you live in?

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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!

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It’s for charity mate! Ukrainian charity

December 13, 2011

Well amongst the many messages I get that I don’t publish in the comments section but reply to, amongst the myriad of questions and fairly frequently, I am asked about charities and NGOs and making a difference in Ukraine.

Now I have written fairly often about NGOs, some may feel quite negatively, others who live amongst the policy making tier  of society have stated quite realistically.  (To see all I have written on NGOs, simply put NGO in the search facility of the blog to save me linking numerous previous posts.)

I have written far less about charities and charity work in Ukraine.

Now my good lady has a particular soft spot for a specific disability charity in Odessa, a daily reader has the same soft underbelly for a particular orphanage, but I am not writing to promote them directly.  When it comes to charities, the vast majority of people have their “compassion button” more easily pressed by certain issues than others.  A good thing for the great spectrum of charitable interests that exist.

It is however, not as easy as you may think to find details of particular charities in Ukraine.  Particularly if you are trying to insure they are registered charitable actors with the State.  (It is in fact not that difficult to register a charity in Ukraine but that does not mean it is always done despite all the best intentions.  There is also the issue of whether a charity is really a charity and not a con scheme should there be no registration.)

Anyway, out there in the twitter-sphere, where I debate the Ukrainian world in 140 characters or less with some very clever people, yesterday amongst some very learned and influential followers Caritas Ukraine has began to lurk.

Now I am not about to glorify anything remotely connected to the Holy See or Catholicism over and above any other charity in Ukraine, or recommend it as being more worthy of your time and interest than the disability charity my good lady supports or the orphanage a daily reader supports.  As I have already said, some charities press the “compassion button” more easily than others.  What can be said is that Caritas Ukraine is far more national in its coverage than many and also more diverse in its areas of interest.

I would also add that Caritas has not asked for any promotion from me.  I deliberately keep this particular blog free from advertising, commercial interest.  The shameless whoring of myself to the pay per click, banners, pay per purchase etc income models on the Internet happen elsewhere.

Anyway, Caritas is an option to look at prior to writing to me about worthy charities in Odessa or Ukraine……particularly when feeling generous at Christmas:

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Britian at its non-political best in Ukraine

June 26, 2011

It’s Sunday, and the summer sun has been temporarily replaced by rain, a not so glorious Odessa day and your author is going to get a few hours of rain, or maybe sun, as the day goes on.

I’m actually off out with the ball and chain on an exploratory shopping expedition in preparation for her birthday next month which means any rain or sun that will touch these tired old bones will be caught during fleeting moments in the streets of Odessa between shops.

Still, as I contemplate the costs associated with this event and the large dent it will inevitably but in the bank balance, here is a link to HM Ambassador to Ukraine, His Excellency Leigh Turner’s blog amply displaying UK charity involvement in Ukraine without any of those nasty HM Government political and diplomatic dilemmas and interventions.

(I must admit, Leigh looks to have caught the sun himself since I was last with him. Surely that didn’t happen on his recent holiday back in the UK. One can only suppose it has been sunny in Kyiv as well.)

Now I’m off shopping with the trouser-wearer. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…….. (Psalm 23:4

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