A group of Ukrainian entrepreneurs joined the Good Samaritan Pantry’s activity

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Last Saturday, on October 9, under the guidance of Sister Theodora, a group of Ukrainian entrepreneurs took part in food distribution in the Kensington district of Philadelphia

A charity project involving regular visits to the Kensington area, also known as the “heroin ghetto,” was launched at the Archeparchy of Philadelphia a year ago. Every week, under the guidance of Sister Theodora, director of the Good Samaritan Pantry, a food bank of the Archeparchy, volunteers prepare food kits for the poor and drug addicts. Every week, a group of people visits the Kensington area to distribute food and hygiene kits to the needy.

More than a dozen men and women from Ukraine who visited Philadelphia responded to Metropolitan Borys’s invitation to take part and visit the Kensington district. Impressions from the visit included emotions of fear, anger, compassion, and admiration for the sacrifice of volunteers.

Olha Bolyukh: “Personally, I associate Kensington with fear: fear of the hopelessness of the human soul that does not know where it is. It is not in the body; it is nowhere. Their heads are so intoxicated with drugs that they cannot understand where they are”.

Andriy Havryliv:  “I’ve never seen anything like this before. It is hard to imagine that people can fall that deep, but I am more interested in why this happens. We, people with a Soviet past, immediately think that such a rich country as the US could easily deal with the problem; but on the other hand, maybe it is democracy that manifests itself in such a way. I don’t know why such a state of people exists. That’s something on which I should reflect”.

Natalia Havryliv: “I was very much impressed by the kindness of the nuns and priests. At first, I was furious at those drug addicts – people who allow themselves to inject drugs on the street openly and without hiding. It was quite a shock for me, and what else was striking was that they were quite normal-looking people; one would never guess that they are drug addicts. Some come with kids and strollers. That was the scariest part to me…”

Yaroslav Kolodiy: “I saw how it looks when a person lowers itself to the level of total apathy. When their souls want to leave this world behind and to do so, they destroy their bodies. This happens as a result of the pain those people have experienced. They do not want to live in this world anymore. However, there is also another side. I was astonished how many people, those who were volunteering that day, were showing to the souls that had fallen that life goes on. That they are ready to help, ready to clean, bring food and medicine. It gives support to the people and shows that have a chance to go back and live, and enjoy the world in which God gives so many opportunities”.

Viktoriya Kolodiy: “I am amazed by the sacrifices of people that help drug addicts to survive. They spend time, their money, and attention not on their families or close ones, but help others. I started thinking that we in Ukraine also have this problem, but it exists behind closed doors. Here, in the US, it is on the surface, where we can see everything. What can we do in Ukraine? How to transfer that helping experience? How to prevent these things from happening? The majority of drug addicts that we have seen here were young people. They can live, have children, be creative and helpful. Something happened in their lives that brought them to such a dramatic stage.

Oksana Gudzovata: “I saw God’s people at the end of their earthly journey.”

Compiled by Kylyna Kurochka

Photo from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/magazine/kensington-heroin-opioid-philadelphia.html

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