In 2006, 85,000 people in Ukraine were estimated to be homeless. Officially, there are around 12,000 homeless people in Kyiv alone, but the numbers are believed to be much higher.
A grassroots organization called “Help the Homeless” tries to do exactly what its name suggests.
“We feed, at the end of a month we gather applications for medicine and in the beginning of a month we give out what we managed to procure. And when it gets cold we cooperate with a homeless shelter, trying to pay for people who need a shelter and can’t afford it,” says Borys Piddubnui, coorganizer of “Help the Homeless”.
Once a week the volunteers meet at the center of Kyiv and hand out the food. They offer a full hot meal to those who need a helping hand. This time they have cooked 40 liters of borshch.
“This initiative helps both physically and spiritually. You understand that people care about you. They’ve gathered here, without any religious or political affiliation,” says ex-military Volodymyr Sizov.
To keep things organized and running smoothly, volunteers issue numbered tickets beforehand. This way, everyone has a place in the queue.
“People who come here, they need more than this little meal on Saturday, and we can’t really help them by just giving them food, but I think it’s a start, something to begin with. And people see that there’s someone who cares,” says German volunteer Loise Aimee.
“Help the Homeless” is distinct in Kyiv in that it is neither religiously affiliated or an initiative of a wealthy donor. Instead, it was started by friends who saw a problem and wanted to provide a solution. On this day, the “Help the Homeless” initiative has already fed 170 people.