Our Vendors 

Ukrainian vendors write back to StreetWise vendors

Thu, Apr 3, 2014

Volodymr Hilenk (left) and Andriy Birban

Volodymr Hilenk (left) and Andriy Birban

Best greetings for our friends in Chicago! We were very happy to receive a second letter from you. We understand that the situation with your shelters are pretty much similar with the shelter in Lviv (but we have only one in our city). To stay there a person needs to be checked for tuberculosis. The shelter is closed in the night so you have to stay inside till the morning. There is also security there.

Answering to you questions:

(1) There are black people who study in Lviv city. Most of them are studying to be doctors or engineers. We also have Russians, Jews, Poles and other ethnic groups, but most people who live in Lviv are Ukrainians.

(2) Street magazine Prosto neba gives us the chance to work. We don’t have many vendors in Lviv. And we don’t know if street magazine has helped anybody to find another job.

(3) The change that resulted from selling the street magazine is constant contact with other people and sharing with them what is important for me. I have many more friends and I have broadened my outlook. I have learned to listen to people and to hear them. I have become a little bit of a psychologist.

(4) Yes, we have a social worker in Oselya. Her name is Natalya. We also have a psychologist named Rostyslav who comes every Thursday. He conducts two-hour training and everybody can participate.

(5) Every Thursday we distribute food for homeless people downtown. We also have a Day center where homeless people can take showers, get new clothing, have lunch (the information with addresses are published in every issue of street magazine). We have AA meetings and addiction therapy in the community.

(6) We are not a religious organization. But if I have a chance to mention God, why not? The Bible provides us with knowledge, why wouldn’t one use it? For Christmas and Easter we organize a big feast for 300 homeless and poor people.

(7) The vendors earn money by selling the street magazine. This street magazine is the purpose of our organization for people who don’t live in the community. That’s the way we can support them. In the community we have different kinds of activities. Those people who live and work in community have pocket money, a place to stay and food provided.

(8) We don’t distinguish the work to “the one I like to do” and “the one I wouldn’t do.” Each kind of work is important if it’s necessary for the community. And every member of the community has to contribute his or her work for the common good. We do take into consideration the abilities of each person. The pocket money is equal for everybody.

(9) The families in Oselya live separated. Now we have one family in our community.

(10) It is very safe in our community because everybody shares the responsibility to make this place safe. In state shelters it may be different. People do not feel at home there and that’s why they don’t respect common safety.

(11) In the 1990’s, when the Iron Curtain had fallen, freedom of speech emerged as well as many religious organizations, both the old ones that had existed before the nineties and new ones. Many preachers and missionaries came to Ukraine.

So, that’s what you asked about. We hope that we were able to help you imagine what is situation like here. It’s not that bad despite the general situation in the country. We worry about future of Ukraine and people’s lives. But we hope for better and we hope that the world will support Ukraine.
It’s nice to stay in touch with you. How do you spend your leisure time when you don’t sell the magazine? What are your interests or hobbies? What books and music do you like? What do you dream about?

We are looking forward to hearing from you again! We wish you all the best. Maybe one day you will come to visit us in Ukraine!

Best wishes,
– Volodymyr, Zhenya & Andriy


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