Community of mutual aid "Emaus-Oselya"


History

The history

The idea to create Community comes from the big quantity of addicted people who couldn’t integrate into society after addiction treatment as they lost their family and social contacts. Several people from Lviv participated in the Polish workshops and in 2001 founded NGO “Community of mutual aid “Oselya”. The activity was supported by International Emmaus Movement which unites 400 communities in 36 countries.

The first public action organized by Oselya was Christmas Eve with poor and homeless people. The aim was to get some picture of the problem of homelessness, the needs of homeless people and their quantity, and to involve them to createation of Community. What we wanted most is to make these people feel not lonely on such day. So, on Christmas 2003 together with Sheptytsky hospital we organized Christmas Eve on the territory of St. George church. It was planned at first to cook and distribute food. But would people feel the atmosphere of Christmas and family holiday only by having food? So it was decided to have common supper at one table and do the program with greetings and carols. There were traditionally 12 dishes as in every family. We prepared 80 places 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 organized 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. These people couldn’t adapt to new social order and felt socially excluded. During these events workers and volunteers talked with homeless and discovered that their main problem is inability to cope with crisis. 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.