May 30, 2022
By Janice Biehn
In the city of Lviv and five of its surrounding districts in Western Ukraine, the Dzherelo Centre has been offering rehabilitation and social daycare services to children and young people with severe disabilities since 1993. When the Russian invasion began in February 2022 forcing many Ukrainians to leave their homes, Lviv became a major hub for persons fleeing the fighting in other parts of Ukraine and staff from Dzherelo turned their focus to helping children and young people with disabilities from among the growing number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). More than 350 people with disabilities and their relatives or companions have found refuge at the Dzherelo Centre. They are from 11 regions of Ukraine, from more than 30 different towns.
The centre has a wheelchair and adaptive devices repair program, a transportation program with special vehicles adapted for people with disabilities, psychological support for parents and families, and training courses for governmental and non-governmental organizations from all over Ukraine. With the IDP population growing, the centre organized a round-the-clock Assistance Post for people with disabilities at the Lviv railway station, assisting people with disabilities with their registration in the city, and with settlement and psychological support. Six Dzherelo minibuses were on 24-hour duty for more than a month and a half, helping refugees with disabilities get around the city.
The sudden increase of people with disabilities in need of care has highlighted some key deficiencies in the centre’s infrastructure that PWRDF funds of $72,000 will help correct. Namely:
- two environmentaly-friendly electric boilers to replace the aging gas boiler which is inefficient and costly to run as the price of gas continues to rise and supply is limited;
- a voltage regulator to provide a stable electricity supply and help eliminate the risk of burnout during voltage fluctuations;
- a diesel generator as a back-up power supply
“We understand that this war will not be over soon,” writes Zoreslava Liulchak, Director of Dzherelo, “so all our activities in support of IDPs with disabilities will be relevant until the end of hostilities and the rebuilding of destroyed cities and towns. To organize programs for IDPs, to ensure viability for our wheelchair and adaptive devices workshop, to ensure conditions our guest rooms where we accommodate IDPs are comfortable, we need to be able to maintain a controlled stable temperature in our building. And today, more than half of Dzherelo’s building is used for various activities to support IDPs.”
An updated heating system will ensure the centre is kept at a safe and comfortable temperature, for children as well as for the employees. But the improvements will also allow Dzherelo use donated funds to provide programming for their local clients, instead of on repairs. “Because of the influx of IDPs (who are being supported by UNICEF) they’ve not been able to offer as much programming for the children and youth who live in Lviv, whom they were serving before the war,” says Patricia Maruschak, Director of Partnerships and Programs for PWRDF. “This is a common case of the host community stepping up to help IDP/refugees and then not getting support for their own needs. It happens in many IDP/refugee situations.”
How you can help
Please continue to keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers. To make a donation to Ukraine relief, click here or go to pwrdf.org/give-today and click on Ukraine Relief. You may also donate by phone at 416-822-9083 or leave a voicemail toll-free at 1-866-308-7973 and we will return your call, or mail your cheque to PWRDF, 80 Hayden, 3rd floor, Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 3G2.