She's got it 11:24 01 Mar 2023

Every senior deserves attention: charity fund taking care of nursing homes

Shelters for the elderly and people with disabilities are places with much despair. Due to the large number of residents, employees of such institutions do not always have time to pay them enough attention. That's when volunteers come to help.

"Yulyni Babusi" is a charitable foundation that takes care of such shelters. Volunteers bring goodies, clothes, and hygiene products to the elderly. But the most important thing is that they are fulfilling their dreams. Learn about the foundation's activities in Rubryka's piece.

What is the problem?

допомога літнім людям

The de-occupied regions of the Kyiv region and Zhytomyr regions are still recovering from the consequences of the occupation. "russian world" left behind looted houses, destroyed housing and infrastructure, and the crippled lives of tens of thousands of people. Pensioners, people with disabilities, residents of shelters for the elderly, and those who had a hard time even in peacetime suffered the most. Now, supporting them is vital.

What is the solution?

Yuliya Karpova, a Kyiv radio station Hit FM radio presenter, decided to direct all her strength and energy to helping elderly Ukrainians. Eight months ago, she founded the "Yulyni Babusi" charity fund. Thanks to the foundation's work, the volunteer and her associates helped hundreds of seniors in the de-occupied territories. Yulia Karpova believes that every elderly should have grandchildren, even if unrelated.

How does it work?
"Sometimes a tube of hand cream is all you need to be happy"

Юлині бабусі

In May 2022, when the morning show on Hit FM returned to work after the start of russia's full-scale war, a girl named Olya wrote on Yulia's Instagram page with a request to spread information about fundraising for the liberated village of Druzhnya. The volunteers were visiting the village to bring food. Yulia agreed, but on the condition that she would also take part in the purchases and the trip itself.

It was important for the radio presenter to make sure that the money collected with her support would go to the needs of specific people. From that moment, their joint trips to the villages of the Kyiv region mutilated by the russians began.

According to Yulia, the de-occupied territories needed everything, in the broadest sense of the word. Food, household chemicals, hygiene products, medicine, and other essentials were mainly transported to the village of Druzhnya. Andriyivka, in the Buchansky district, was one of the villages most affected by the occupiers in the Kyiv region, so they also needed construction materials to restore houses. The organization then continued with trips to Chervona Hirka, Hostomel, and Borodyanka.

"There was an incident during one of the trips that triggered me," says Yulia Karpova. "Besides hygiene products, we took face and hand creams with us. When the women who came for humanitarian aid saw this, their faces lit up with true happiness," the radio presenter shares.

It was spring, and garden work was in full swing. Some women's hands were damaged to the point of deep cracks. And one of them said: "You know, volunteers come to us with food, and for that, we are all very grateful, but we have already forgotten about these ordinary women's joys."

And until now, Yulia remembers these words. They showed that those torn by war often need a little care and attention to be happy, even if it is an ordinary tube of hand cream.

Establishment of the fund 

Юлині бабусі волонтери

The first trip to the de-occupied territories made a huge impression on Yulia:

"I returned home and digested it all for several days. What I saw just made me want to roar. I thought: today we collected the money and delivered the products, but what next? I understood that the help should be more extensive and support more people. And then I realized — there must be a fund."

The foundation consists of the people who have been there since the beginning. Olya Lisnichenko (the same girl who once wrote to Yulia on Instagram, now she is her right hand), Tanya Pozniak, and photographer Mykhailo Vakolyuk were the founders of the organization. The rest of the team joined later.

To reach as many people as possible, the founder of the "Yulyni Babusi" Foundation focused on helping shelters for the elderly. There are currently four of them under the patronage of the foundation — three in the Kyiv region and one in the Zhytomyr region.

гуманітарна допомога притулках

The fund registration made it possible to help more effectively. A charity fund is another level. It is a legal entity with transparent documentation and reporting. And all this accordingly gives more credibility to the activity. And if, for example, some companies want to join, but they can do it only officially, they have such an opportunity, Karpova explains.

It works simply: the fund receives a request from the shelter and calculates how much money is necessary to fulfill it. The team announces a fundraiser for a particular trip on social media, and at the same time, volunteers try to organize collaborations with companies. Then "Yulyni Babusi" team brings everything necessary to the shelters. The work of a radio presenter helps Yulia a lot. She often talks about trips live. The stories of the fund always get feedback from the listeners of the morning show. People call and offer their help.

The charity fund brings food, household chemicals, warm clothes, and bed linen. With the help of the fund, water was supplied to the home for the elderly in the village of Prybirsk. There, 30 residents of the shelter lived almost without water. Workers carried water in buckets to wash the elderly. Now the shelter in Prybirsk has a water supply and even a washer-dryer, for which the volunteers were helped to raise funds by social media users.

благодійний фонд Юлині бабусі

A story that Karpova is particularly proud of is a holiday for the residents of the shelter in Prybirsk on the eve of St. Nicholas Day. The idea that the elderly need a celebration haunted the volunteer for almost a month. This small shelter needs a lot of help because it houses people who cannot care for themselves.

Karpova agreed with the musicians and singer Victor Pavlik and announced the holiday fundraiser. People gave a lot of gifts to the elderly — warm things, home suits, robes, a lot of sweets and pastries. A real furor took place when Viktor Pavlik arrived and entered the assembly hall, where the shelter's residents had already gathered. People could not believe their favorite singer was standing before them.

Everyone sang songs together, laughed, cried, and applauded each other. Later, one of the heads of the institution called Yulia and told the residents couldn't stop discussing the holiday and forgot about their poor health. Now Yulia wants to organize similar concerts in every shelter, even without any reason — gather musicians and artists and distract the seniors from their daily and often unhappy routine.

літні люди

Volunteers visit each of their shelters monthly. The residents always wait for them, as they would wait for their grandchildren. A mandatory rule for all visits is to talk at least a little, hug, listen to stories from their youth again, and bring treats and sweets. And also — to fulfill some cherished dreams.

The dreams of shelter residents

"Our most important achievement is the trust of the seniors," says Karpova. Sometimes they share their deepest dreams, and this is always very touching.

допомога людям з інвалідністю

Valentina Hryhorivna from the boarding shelter in Hornostaipil' in the Kyiv region asked for a bra, hair dye, and a women's handbag. The woman needed to go to the hospital and wanted to look beautiful.

"Who are we not to prepare Valentyna for a doctor's appointment? Our lady smiled happily the next time we arrived, so everything worked out for us," Yulia rejoiced with the woman.

Dmytrovych also lives in Hornostaipil'. He is blind and a big tea fan. The man asked Yulia to bring him black large-leaf tea so that he could taste it and feel its structure tactilely. Yulia spoke about Dmytrovych on the radio. People responded to this story and handed Dmytrovych a massive bag of various teas so that the man could enjoy new flavors almost every day.

волонтерство у притулках

Dmytrovych really likes to sing romances for the shelter visitors. During one of these impromptu performances, another shelter resident approached Dmytrovych and said: "Well, if I had something to play with, we could make a good duet!". Karpova also mentioned this incident on air. And again, the person responded and gave the shelter resident a guitar. Now Dmytrovych and his romances have an accompaniment.

The fund also takes care of Valentina from the shelter in Prybirsk. Everyone affectionately calls her Valyusha there. She is a craftswoman and makes rugs from old clothes available to order. Immediately after the acquaintance, Valentyna called the volunteers to her room to show the products. She asked for oranges and old blouses so that she would have something to make new rugs with.

Юлині бабусі

Valyusha showed genuine trust the next time she asked the volunteers to hand over candy not only to her but also to her daughter, who has cerebral palsy and lives in another shelter.

The Zhytomyr boarding house for seniors became the biggest challenge for "Yulyni Babusi." This shelter is large, with 210 people living in it. Yulia met Oleksandr there and asked him what gift he would like. The answer amazed Yulia — it turned out that the man had been dreaming of ordinary khachapuri for many years.

"I almost fell apart from this request," recalls Yulia, "he really wanted spicy khachapuri. I searched for and brought him the spiciest version of this pastry I could find from Kyiv. It seems like a small thing, but I saw a child's delight in the eyes of an adult. The last time he tasted khachapuri was 15 years ago, and, holding it in his hands again, he kept repeating: 'I thought such miracles only happened on TV, but it happened to me too.' Now it has become a good tradition — if we go to Zhytomyr, we bring him a khachapuri," Karpova shares.

Юлині бабусі, фонд

In the shelter in Hornostaipil,' there was another vivid example of mistrust, which gradually dissipated. Serhii, a resident of the shelter, moves around in a wheelchair.

"When we arrived at the shelter for the first time, he did not even approach us but simply watched us from a distance. During our second visit, while unloading the products, he came closer but did not make much contact. For the third time, Serhii dared to speak and asked to bring him discs with movies because he really liked watching movies and cartoons. And this moment when a person finally shows trust is priceless," says the fund's head.

Even more helpful solutions!
How to become a grandchild for the elderly

притулки для маломобільних людей

It is very easy to support the activities of Kyiv volunteers. It is enough to write about your desire to join the fund's page on Facebook or Instagram.

You can support the team with donations. The fund has a permanent fundraiser, as the trips occur regularly several times a month. Warm clothes, bed linen, and towels are always relevant for the elderly. The fund especially needs diapers for adults of any size and sweets, especially some soft ones — chocolates, croissants, cookies, and jams. Household chemicals are always in need.

Another option for help is to go with Karpova and her friends to the shelter. According to the volunteers, the seniors love attention, and they want to communicate, contact, and tell someone their stories so much that joining and going to talk with them is a huge help.

"If you help with money — it's great. If you can send something' it would be perfect. Sharing and reposting the information about the fundraiser is also a huge help. As practice shows, even if a person can't help, even if they don't have the opportunity, it's okay. It's not okay if you don't care. If a person simply made a repost, it's also helpful," says Karpova.

"Yulyni Babusi" fund plans to take care of even more shelters. The foundation dreams that everyone with a disability has someone they can count on so that every senior has grandchildren. Yulia considers caring for all lonely people to be her most important task.

"Perhaps I will need 800 years for this, we'll see," Yulia laughs, "but I really want these people not to live out their lives in shelters but to live their most interesting and lively old age." When we leave from another trip, we are often very sad about what we have seen and heard. But the understanding that we were able to make these people's lives even a little bit better is very supportive. And this is a beautiful, magical pendulum for the next trip," says Karpova.

There are shelters for the elderly not only in the Kyiv region. If you also want to care for single seniors, or become their favorite grandson or granddaughter, write to the "Yulyni Babusi" fund. The foundation team will be happy to share their experience with you.

Experience of others 

Older people face similar problems and challenges worldwide, most notably isolation. The absence of loved ones and other people in life, lack of employment, and even lack of hobbies affect older people's mental and physical condition, not only in Ukraine. Different countries find different solutions for this, and sharing experience means providing new opportunities and tools that other communities can implement in other places, considering local specifics.

For example, in Japan, there is a government-introduced model designed to improve the quality of life of older people. Similarly to Ukraine, in Japan, a significant part of the population is elderly. In addition, more often than not, it is institutions that take care of seniors, not their families. For Ukraine, this is also relevant often, older people are left alone and don't have relatives who would help them cope with the challenges of their age. Some of the lessons learned by the Japanese could be adopted by Ukraine and Ukrainian initiatives that help older people.

In addition, the problem of loneliness among older people has become evident worldwide with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the crisis emerged, so did new solutions — for example, a group of retirees in Illinois, U.S., used digital technology to feel more connected, meet new people, and get new experiences. See the link for how it works.


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