At the start of 2020, many plans were made to aid the Deaf in Ukraine. Oleg partnered with DeafBridge to provide coats and winter clothes to the Deaf community. Plans were made for Deaf Schools in 5 cities to host the coat drive where Deaf students, families, and members of the Deaf community could come and receive the winter items they needed. This would also be a time to promote the summer camps for the Deaf and recruit new families to attend.
Then COVID-19 brought these well-laid plans to a halt. Schools closed. Gatherings were prohibited, and the summer camps were canceled.
Similar to what we have experienced in America, many lost their jobs. But unlike America, there was no government subsidy, no stimulus package, and no food banks. Many of the Deaf in Ukraine already live very hard and impoverished lives, and their situation now has become much worse. Oleg asked what he could do to help. That’s when an unexpected door opened. Recognizing the dire circumstances of the Deaf, a government agency contacted Oleg and gave him a list that included the names and addresses of the Deaf throughout the Kyiv region. They granted Oleg and his team special permission to go and call upon these Deaf individuals and families. Oleg asked if DeafBridge would talk with donors about repurposing some of the finds from the coat drive to now be used for food, masks, gloves, etc. We contacted our donors, and the response was highly supportive of this new direction.
Oleg and his team purchased flour, pasta, oil, and many other food staples in addition to the masks and gloves. As the packages were delivered, the Deaf were overwhelmed with gratitude! One lady shared that she was unsuccessfully trying to gain government assistance. She didn’t know what she or her parents would do. Then Oleg arrived with the food package. She couldn’t believe it! She said the government wouldn’t help her, but this Deaf team did! Older Deaf people had been isolated from fellowship and were thrilled to chat with fellow Deaf people. More than 70 Deaf families in the Kyiv region alone were helped. The response to the act of love the Deaf witnessed through this unexpected opportunity was more than Oleg had expected to see with the former plans of the coat drive.
Watch the video below as Oleg shares his thanks that the donors of DeafBridge embraced this opportunity that allowed him to meet and reach out to so many in need! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5NcuajBg9o