Community of mutual aid “Emmaus – Oselya” is a public organization whose mission is to help homeless people find their dignity in the community, and hence in society; helping the community to embrace each person and spread the ideas of the Emmaus Movement.
“Oselya” united people who felt responsible for the injustice of the modern world and realized their privileged position, as well as people who lost their will to life. Together, we help themselves, help each other and to those who need help.
The idea of the founding of the Community came from having a large number of addicted people who, after therapy, could not integrate into society because they had lost family and social connections. Several people from the initiative group have been trained in similar organizations in Poland and in 2001 they founded the NGO “Community of mutual aid “Oselya” with the support of the Emmaus International Movement, which brings together more than 350 communities of homeless people in almost forty countries.
The first public action organized by Oselya was Christmas Eve for poor and homeless people. The aim was to get the picture of the problem of homelessness, the needs of homeless people and their quantity, and to involve them to creation of Community. What we wanted most that day is to make these people not feel lonely. So, on Christmas 2003 together with Sheptytsky hospital we organized Christmas Eve in the yard of St. Yuriy cathedral. At first we thought to cook and distribute food. But would people feel the atmosphere of Christmas and family holiday only by having food? So we decided to have common dinner at one table and do the program with greetings and carols. There were 12 traditional dishes. We prepared 80 seats but 250 people came, and we made the fire outside so everyone could stay warm. The holiday was full of happiness, joy and tears. At the same time organizers were impressed by the problem that is usually invisible in everyday life, so we decided to make this project regular and organize also Easter breakfasts.
The first Easter breakfast was held the same year at the same place. The information was spread in mass media. Organizers expected 400 people, but there were much more. Still there was place for everybody. People came not only for food but for love, support and solidarity. There were homeless, addicted, disabled, elderly and lonely people. It was the first time in our city that poor people were not forgotten on such big holiday.
Soon the target group was determined. Oselya still works with these people – not only addicted but also disabled, homeless, unemployed, socially excluded. During these events workers and volunteers talked with homeless people and discovered that their main problem is helplessness and lack of opportunity to get out of a crisis situation on their own. It’s important to create conditions so these people could solve their problems and rehabilitate after crisis. The necessity of the community where lonely and homeless could live and work together, take care of each other like in real family was obvious.
“Oselya” is one of the first organizations in Ukraine that began to support homeless people in every way and in 2003 created a unique Community where homeless people live and work together, and help others who are in a difficult situation. June 12, 2003 is considered to be the day of the founding of the Community – that day, the first companion settled in a house. The house was purchased thanks to the financial support of European “Emmaus” communities. The community was created by the example of the “Emmaus” communities and became member of Emmaus International in 2010.
In our work we are guided by:
The Statute of the NGO “Community of mutual aid “Oselya”, adopted by the General Meeting of the Organization on November 27th, 2001, with changes and additions adopted on December 23, 2016; Manifesto of the Emmaus International Movement, adopted on May 24, 1969, during the First World Assembly in Berne, Switzerland; Values and Guiding Principles of the Emmaus International Movement, adopted at the 2016 World Assembly in Jezolo, Italy; and by the values described below.
Our main values are: respect for people, their dignity, and their environment; sharing in all of its dimensions – human, material, financial; openness which opens up to reciprocity; solidarity, shown in the community and the desire to live together, gives strength to combat loneliness and to resolve conflict; welcoming as a practice to offer an “unconditional welcome”; community as a way of life and way of social interaction.