Community Service and Volunteerism in Ukraine: Supporting Children with Special Needs

Ambassador Pyatt meets with Nadia NGO representatives
Ambassador Pyatt meets with Nadiya NGO representatives

Posted by: Lisa Steinhauer, U.S. Peace Corps Community Development Volunteer (Drohobych, L’vivska Oblast)

Читати українською

The United States is associated with many positive emotions at Nadiya, an NGO focusing on children and youth with special needs located in Drohobych, L’vivska Oblast.  The organization, in operation since 1991, has received various sources of support from U.S. grants as well humanitarian assistance over the years.  In June 2012, the NGO’s relationship with the United States was strengthened further when I arrived as the organization’s first U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer.

Ambassador Pyatt meets with Nadia NGO representatives
Ambassador Pyatt meets with Nadiya NGO representatives

Peace Corps has given both Nadiya and me an exciting opportunity to work together on local community development projects while participating in a cultural exchange program.  Since arriving in Drohobych, I have been overwhelmed with the hospitality and openness of my organization and community.  People consistently take the time to genuinely listen to and understand what I have to say, even with my broken Ukrainian.  They have accepted me into their lives, up to the point that it is not uncommon for me to hear myself referred to as “наша Ліза” (our Lisa).  They even go as far as declaring our organization an extension of the United States on U.S. Holidays as a way for us to celebrate American culture together.

Ambassador Pyatt with Nadia NGO representatives
Ambassador Pyatt with Nadiya NGO representatives

Needless to say, when Nadiya found out that the new U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt would be coming for a visit, the mood was jovial.  Around 20 of Nadiya’s youth with special needs, volunteers, and parents anxiously waited for Ambassador Pyatt outside the building on that Monday morning.  We had practiced saying “Welcome to Nadiya” in English several times before his arrival and it was a proud moment when everyone welcomed the Ambassador in unison.

Ambassador Pyatt graciously listened to information about our projects over the past year, made possible through U.S. support, and congratulated us on our successes.  He then enjoyed a brief tour of our facility and a cup of tea with our youth and volunteers.  Everyone was really encouraged to hear so many positive remarks from the Ambassador. People cannot stop talking about his visit to Nadiya.

From all of us in Drohobych, we would like to say thank you, Ambassador Pyatt, for taking the time to see us at Nadiya!  I am sure this day will be remembered for years to come.

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