Boom and bust in Ukraine
World Jewish Relief’s Programmes Officer, Kateryna Roshchyna, has experienced the strain the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is having on the economy and how your support is making a crucial impact.
It is not only those on the front line of the conflict who are suffering. The effects of the war have permeated through all of Ukraine. Everyone is affected. Fraught even before the conflict, Ukraine’s economy is now on the brink. The currency, the Hryvnia, has collapsed. Inflation and consumer prices have increased so now even basic necessities are unaffordable. The economy contracted by 12% in 2015 and is predicted to shrink further. Unemployment continues to rise while work opportunities are increasingly stifled by companies choosing to relocate to more stable neighbouring countries.
With fewer work opportunities available it is vital people have the necessary skills to be competitive in an increasingly depressed job market. Our Livelihood Programmes provide people with the relevant skills and knowledge to enter a variety of industries. From computer competency to business management, our training programmes help people to find work. With secure employment, our participants, many of whom are single parents, are able to triple their income – last year the average income increase amongst participants was 279%. Most importantly, this income allows people to support their families.
Whilst our livelihood programmes provide many families with a route out of poverty, for many older Jewish people who we support, they are simply too old or infirm to work and have no means of income aside from their pension, which averages just £50 per month in Ukraine. With spiralling costs of food, medication, rent and heating, older people often have to make the difficult decisions to prioritise their needs. Thanks to your support we provide vital medicine and food, so that they don’t need to make the choice between going hungry or without medicine.
Bringing people into work enables people to support themselves, their children and a significant proportion of our community’s older people. For older people who don’t have familial support, we provide a lifeline. Thanks to your support, we can aspire towards an end to Jewish poverty in the former Soviet Union within our lifetimes.
A single mother to two young boys, Elena’s life changed forever when her husband walked out of the family. Demoralised and alone with no support, Elena struggled to provide for her family the basic necessities – even pencils for school.
Elena enrolled on a sewing course on one of our Livelihood Programmes to pursue her dream of becoming a seamstress. She now designs clothes for religious men and women and works part-time as a sewing teacher in a Jewish school. Her creativity means that she has been asked by the community to decorate rooms for weddings and celebrations, which she loves doing. Not only can Elena now provide for her children, she can also give back to her community and teach her sons true Jewish values.