Many elderly people in the former Soviet Union live without hope. Surviving on subsistence level pensions, many cannot afford proper food and medical care. Daily survival is a challenge and many times family members are unable or unwilling to help. Too often these seniors have relatives who exploit them. Many seniors have been stolen from, adbused and even put out on the street by their own children or grandchildren who have then stolen their apartment.
Thousands of seniors live in these desperate conditions in just the city of Kiev alone.
Mercy Ministry – Kiev, Ukraine
The Mercy Ministry (ministry to seniors) was born in the city of Kiev, in December of 1998, by Dr Irina Vlasenko. After seeing the immense needs of the elderly in her city, Dr Irina organized a team of mercy workers from her home church, Christian Hope Church, to visit the homes of the elderly and shut-ins in the city. Many seniors lives were changed forever by the Christian fellowship and personal touch of the home care workers.
Today, Christian Hope Church has adopted these needy seniors as a part of their regular home cell groups. Each senior is visited regularly by a regional pastor and church members in their area. This personal contact is vitally important to these lonely men and women.
Senior’s Respite Centre – Gogolev, Ukraine
Dr Irina has expanded seniors outreach ministry by opening a special seniors respite centre, called ‘Light for the Lonely’, in a small town about 20 minutes away from Kiev. This centre, in Gogolev, Ukraine, ministers to seniors by bringing them out of the city for a two week stay at the respite centre. While there, the seniors have all their medical, nutritional, and spiritual needs met. Often living a lonely existence in the city, these seniors develop strong friendships with other guests at the centre. This Christian fellowship is one of the highlights of their stay. Most of the seniors leave having accepted Jesus into their lives.
Food for the Hungry Campaign – Ukraine
Every Spring, MPI runs a special campaign called “Food for the Hungry.” This campaign is focused on one of the most basic human needs – the need to eat. The cost of food in Ukraine continues to rise, and can even be higher than food prices in North America. In contrast to this, wages are severely deflated and many are unemployed. Even doctors, lawyers and other professionals struggle to put nutritional food on the table. There are single parent and low income families who cannot remember the last time they ate meat of any kind.
During this campaign, MPI strives to collect the needed funds to operate a “food bank” year round, providing staple and nutritious food for as many people as possible. By stocking, managing and operating this food bank in Kiev, MPI can reach out to families with many children, those who are unemployed and the elderly with enough food to keep them fed.