"We feel loved"

A family facing disability and poverty in Ukraine 

Poverty and disability make life a constant struggle for the Gamza family, who live in a tiny village in western Ukraine.

When their son Vladyslav was just four years old, he developed severe cerebral palsy. He and his family live far away from any specialised medical facilities – in a region where many people live in poverty. 

“My son was a lively, joyful boy, the apple of my eye, our firstborn,” said his father, Vitaliy. “Suddenly at the age of four, he got brain inflammation and since then, he has been paralyzed, unable to see and talk.” 

Vladyslav, 13, is held tenderly in his grandmother’s lap. She looks after him every day, and they are so close that it is as though his pain is hers.  

She said, “His disease is so severe that he has little chance of improvement. The only relief for him is rehabilitation therapy, but in our desolate village with no hospital we cannot provide it. I give him massages.” 

Rural areas of Ukraine currently suffer from high levels of unemployment, widespread poverty, and poor infrastructure. The absence of stability and economic potential is common to most of the families here. Parents hope for a better future for their children; the situation in the country continues to worsen, and it leads to further frustration.   

Vitaliy said, “Many men and some women in my village abuse alcohol. They give up trying for a better life.”  

He has found a job in a city 400km away – but it means he must live away from his family. 

Many men and women in my village give up trying for a better life. “I wish I could work here, but there is total unemployment here. There are no roads, no manufacturing, no business.” 

Through our family sponsorship programme Mission Without Borders (MWB) is working with nearly 300 families in this region, providing them with practical, emotional and spiritual support and helping them to overcome poverty.  Vladyslav’s brothers and sisters receive school supplies and help with their education.
As well as monthly parcels of food and hygiene items, the Gamza family also received one of our Operation Christmas Love (OCL) parcels – and to receive such a gift in the midst of winter, when the cold weather makes life tougher than ever, was an incredible blessing.
“Christmas became more meaningful for us,” said Vitaliy. “Our holiday supper was made with food we received in the OCL parcel. It was very symbolic.  

“We feel loved – and it helps us to love each other more.”


£53 a month is how much carers of disabled children receive a month to support them. The vast majority of disabled children in Ukraine are placed in government institutions    

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