is a city of contrasts. Many young people in Odessa
have mobile phones and chic European clothing. Odessa
also has many ongoing construction projects. Many
of the people in the restaurants look affluent. BMWs
and Mercedes are common sites. You may be mistaken
that Odessa is a thriving European city.
a person looks a little deeper, this image is slightly
tarnished, you cannot help but notice the incredible
number of homeless people. Elderly and the disabled
beg for food, drug addicts and alcoholics are passed
out on the street, large numbers of people hunt through
trash cans, and dirty street children sleep in the
is that official unemployment hovers just over 1%,
but the International Labor Organization has placed
this figure as high as 34% when including workers
on unpaid/involuntary leave and unreported separations.
A significant part of the Ukrainian labor force has
migrated to the shadow economy, taking up service
jobs such as taxi drivers, waiters, and traders -
anything to ensure economic survival. Wages remain
very low by Western standards. In Odessa the average
salary is only USD 29-37 per month, or less that
$500 a year. Pensions for the elderly are around $15
estimated to be over 5,000 homeless children in Odessa
alone. These children are often fleeing physical and
sexual abuse at home. Many become drug addicts and
There is no easy way to help the needy of Odessa.
For the past two years I have worked in the non-profit
community, in several nonprofit organizations in Odessa.
The level of corruption and theft is phenomenal.
last year I met a gentleman who had come to Odessa
on business. He saw the poverty and wanted to help.
he gave a retirement home some money and it was
he then physically gave these elderly pensioners
money. Later he found out the staff forcefully stole
it from each and every pensioner.
he purchased heaters for the pensioners. They were
all stolen and sold.
is not uncommon, a religious group had humanitarian
aid containers held up in customs and then pillaged.
This group never received the containers. Another
volunteer gave the money from a grant, over $2,000
to an orphanage director and the director later denied
that she ever received it.
corruption in no way lessons the need of the people
that require this aid the most. It is simply wise
to be aware of the epidemic problems that exist in
want to help
In two years of working with several non-profits,
and being in contact with dozens more, there is only
one charity that I can guarantee will use any aid
Salvation Army representative in Odessa
Tel: 67-93-10 (home)
Kostya's English translator
Tel: 65-33-04 (home)
Kosmonavtov 68 (Космонавтов) #2
runs a children's center in the Malinovsky
district for neighborhood poor children. These children
are some of the poorest in Odessa. The US coast guard
and US embassy rebuilt this children's center with
Kostya. He is incredibly dedicated to this project,
most of his apartment furniture is in the center.
In the summer of 2002 he took the children to a summer
Beggars in front of Preobrazhenskaya
70 (Преображенская) by Galen
which I cannot guarantee the honesty simply for lack
of knowing the organization well:
(not to be confused with the Svetly Dom on Dobrovolskaya)
Bazarnaya 2/1 (Базарная)
Dom is a famous children's orphanage ran by Father
Alexander, a Catholic Priest. His orphanage was the
sole beneficiary of a celebrity night on the Ukrainian
version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire".
Macdonald's Restaurant remodeled the orphanage lunchroom.
The United Sates Navy and US embassy remodeled the
kitchen and bathrooms. Although their is a really
spirit of love in this orphanage towards the kids,
unsubstantiated rumors (sometimes the non-profit world
in Odessa can be very backbiting and envious) and
questionable accounting practices make me unable to
recommend this charity fully.
The losers of capitalism
for the Rehabilitation of Invalid Children
Pushkinskaya 51 (Пушкинская)
(Corner of Bazarnaya (Базарная))
Located at the Golden Angel monument on Pushkinskaya
No personal experience with this organization. Has
a good reputation.
it is Kostya Schwab's children center (above), never
give cash. Purchase items to give the needy at a
- Do a
"needs assessment", make sure what you
want to give is what the charity really needs.
promise unless you are ABSOLUTELY certain
you WILL deliver. Ukrainians views on verbal agreements,
no mater how causal, are much more binding than
most western cultures.
Blind woman singing for money