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From Being Helpful to Being Strong

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Every third citizen of Ukraine practically belongs to the age group 50+.

A lot of people feel lonely and forgotten once they have retired. Back then they used to have their colleagues, problems to settle, interest in the morrow. Today, pensioners predominantly stay at home, often because of lack of money. The mission of the Ukrainian Association of Retired Persons, which has recently established one of its regional branches in Rivne, is to deal with this sort of situations. One can spend his time in retirement usefully and interesting now.

Tamara Tkach, editor-in-chief of the web page of the Ukrainian Association of Retired Persons and the Deputy Director of the Rivne regional branch speaks about organisation's activities.

It is a well-known fact that no one in our country takes a great interest in seniors, says Ms Tkach. That is why the Ukrainian civic organization "Ukrainian Association of Retired Persons" was established in the year 2000. Among its members there are pensioners, people of pre-retirement age and sympathizers.  Among the founders of the organization there are academicians and teachers, physicians and workers, lawyers and engineers. This is an organisation that asserts rights and interests of its members and all the citizens of Ukraine, and helps them to create favourable conditions for a healthy and decent life. Christian values, European choice and social protection are the main guidelines that constitute UARP's activities. The principle of individual and community mutual aid at the level of personal contacts forms the basis of its activities; people combine efforts to improve the quality of their lives.

We were surprised to learn on 1th of October last year - on the International Day of Older Persons - that there were no dedicated activities in Rivne organised to celebrate that day, and exactly on that day we presented our web page at the regional library. People, who visited the presentation, kept asking whether we would meet in the future. We organised some gatherings at weekends in October, where people got a chance to tell about their lives and hobbies.  So, Rivne Regional Branch of the UARP was set up, and has been successfully functioning for four months now.

A New Stage in Life

We come up with a new programme of events for every month. It may include interesting meetings, master-classes, discussions, artistic events, recitals, visits to museums and theatres, etc. For example, in February we plan to go to the theatre, to organise a meeting and a concert with Afghan war veterans, and to conduct a lesson of literacy. In each case, we consider people's opinion and organize events, which are interesting for them. We have already arranged meetings with a priest, cardiologist, technologist and dietician, with an employee of the Chief Department of the Pension Fund of Ukraine in Rivne region. We have been to the theatre twice, and also visited the Museum of Amber. At the library we met with Pavlo Petrosyuk (wood carving), Anatoly Haiduk (products of rush) and Valeriy Voytovych (an expert painter), who had their exhibitions organised here. Today we have come to participate in a recital called "Tatyana's Day", and this is already the 12th event in a row.

The workers of the Rivne Regional Universal Scientific Library assist us in conducting events in every possible way, especially Galyna Spodenyuk, Angela Khamedyuk and Tatiana Ryzha, as a lot of our events take place at the regional library. Here we held a New Year's party with a concert and organized a tea party on the New Year's Eve.

In general, there are about 8 thousand members of the UARP in Rivne region. 12 special programmes are currently available for them, as well as for other members of the association all over Ukraine, about which you can find out more by visiting our web page at: www.uarp.org. Our major programmes are: the Programme of Financial Support, Information and Cultural Programmes, Ethno-Eco 50+, which is based on revival of folk crafts, in particular, of hand weaving. There is an organisation called "Research and Revival Centre of Volyn" based in Radyvyliv, which also implements these programmes over there. There are some new programmes to be implemented in April; that is the Programme of Legal Aid and the Programme of Discounts on Goods and Services.

Every meeting in Rivne includes a lot of pleasant words, hugs and merry twinkles in people's eye. People welcome them with enthusiasm. We used to encourage pensioners by calling and reminding them about meetings, but now they show their own interest and initiative.

"An interesting atmosphere, new people, useful information"

That is a feedback that members of the Rivne regional branch of the UARP left about organisation's work. A conversation with them took place after the recital "Tatyana's Day" on 25 January.

These old songs I heard today made me feel overcome with nostalgia for early youth, said pensioner Fedor Overchuk . I like visiting such artistic events; I have also been twice to the theatre. In summer I like travelling around Europe as a tourist, I am also interested in cycle racing. That is why I speak in support of creating an infrastructure for bicycle racing.

Why we stay at home, wonders Maryna Shved. This is a new stage in our pensioner's life, as well as interesting socializing.

By the way, some pensioners come from Antopol, Zdolbuniv,Klevan,Kostopol, Reshutsk and other places.

As for me it is a nice change in life and interesting socializing with other people, besides you can learn something useful, says Yaroslav Krysyuk from Antopol. People gladly come with their friends, acquaintances and we even have some married couples here.

It is the third time I have come here, but I find it very interesting to talk to people and to meet with them, just letting my soul relax, so to say, said Yevgen Avramchuk. You see, someone still needs us.

The man's opinion is supported by his wife, Mariya Avramchuk,

We saw the play "Old-fashioned comedy" at the theatre. We liked it very much, for that performance was also about the elderly and their relationships. We came, relaxed and remembered our youth.

People of pre-retirement age, who are interested in participating in events and meetings, also join the gatherings.

One can always find an interesting atmosphere, new people, useful information here, reports  Olga Radyvanyuk from Rivne. There are meetings, excursions, visits to the theatre arranged for us. I would not ever go to the theatre if not this association.

Such organizations as the UARP are really needed and required,  pensioners say. These people have life experience, they feel their importance and that they are needed. So people are already waiting impatiently for the next meeting and new interesting events. By the way, these people - being pensioners - are responded to friendly advances, and offered tickets at reasonable prices when visiting theatres, museums and exhibitions.

Ms Tkach drew our attention to the web page of the UARP - www.uarp.org - which can be read in four languages: Ukrainian, Russian, English and German, as it is frequented by foreigners. By the way the work of the Association itself is based on positive international experience.

At first, the motto of the Ukrainian Association of Retired Persons was "Help yourself! ", but was later changed to "Together we are strong! ", because to improve pensioners' lives is possible only with joint efforts of all seniors. Therefore,  pensioners are invited to spent an interesting and useful time together.

For more information call Tamara Tkach on (097) 645-38-13.

Nadiya Berehova


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