Lugansk (Luhansk), January 5, 2015
With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and on the invitation of Metropolitan Metrophanes of Lugansk and Alchevsk, staff members of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Ministry visited the Lugansk Diocese, reports Diaconia.ru. There is a disastrous situation with food supply in the region; people have not received any benefits, pensions or salaries for more than half a year. By agreement with the diocese, the Synodal Department’s staff purchased and presented 1,500 selections of foodstuffs for pensioners, families with handicapped children, and other people in need in three localities which were receiving virtually no humanitarian aid.
“People are filled with despair, they were receiving our aid literally with tears. Shops in the towns are open but local residents say they have no means to buy the most necessary things,” related Alexei Shashkov from the Synodal Department.
On December 27 the Synodal Department’s staff left for Lugansk. Beforehand, in Rostov-on-the Don foodstuffs in the sum of 567,523 rubles had been purchased. Workers of the Synodal Department for Charity of the Rostov-on-Don Diocese took part in the purchase and delivery of the aid. On December 28 and 29, the food was packaged for 1,500 selections. Each selection included packages of rice, pasta, flour, tinned (canned) meat and fish, green peas, sunflower oil, condensed milk, tea.
On December 29, staff of the Synodal Department for Charity distributed around 200 selections of foodstuffs at the St. Vladimir’s Church in Alchevsk. This city is one of the largest industrial centers of the Lugansk region with population of over 100,000 residents. The aid was received by the church parishioners as well as about 70 families with handicapped children who are in the care of the local church center for disabled children.
On the same day about 300 selections of food were presented for residents of the small city of Perevalsk – the administrative center of the district with the same name; it is situated 45 kilometres (28 miles) from Lugansk and has a population of 26,000 people. Those in need receive food every day on the territory of the Church of St. John of Kronstadt in Perevalsk: 200-250 people are given aid daily. “Our aid was in such high demand that our selections were considerably insufficient for all the people who came. So we made lists for 140 persons who were in want of selections and delivered the missing amount on the following day,” Shashkov said.
On December 30 a humanitarian shipment (over 700 portions) was sent to the Church of Sts. Faith, Hope, Charity and their mother Sophia in Alchevsk. A dining-room for people in difficult life situations is arranged at the church. According to the rector, 300-350 people receive food every day. 120 selections were given to Priest Gennady Polunin from the Church of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of the Kiev Caves in Yashchikovo village of the Perevalsk district for passing to the most needy village residents and parishioners.
“I noticed that 90% of those who received aid in Perevalsk and Alchevsk on December 30 were people of retirement age, many of them in their seventies,” A. Shashkov noted. “Many of them explained that social benefits: pensions, allowances to single mothers and mothers with many children as well as disability pensions had not been paid since April 2014, they were in a grave financial situation.”
The Synodal Department for Church Charity is planning to continue delivering humanitarian aid to the needy in dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC MP).