Yuriy Kusen was making a nearly 740-mile journey from Zolochiv, Ukraine, to Germany. It was a familiar trek since his job often requires him to travel. But this time he wasn’t thinking about work. This time he thought about Nazar, a boy with autism.
Nazar’s mother had reached out to Kusen’s Knights of Columbus council for help. She couldn’t access the prescription medications her son needed.
They aren’t the only family in this situation. Due to ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, prescription drugs and other medical supplies are difficult to find. When they are found, they are far too expensive for families like Nazar’s.
“There are drugs that are not licensed in Ukraine,” Kusen said. “They simply do not exist. But they can be brought from abroad.”
Kusen, a member of Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky Council 16848, bought the necessary drugs in Germany and imported them for Nazar. Since then, the boy’s condition has improved.
“He makes contact with other children, and we can leave him alone,” said Lyubov Yosypivna, Nazar’s mother. “This became possible only after help from the Knights of Columbus. With the help of the Knights of Columbus, our lives have changed a lot. It has changed for the better, I say again that the child began to feel better.”
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The Knights from Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky Council 16848 have made a concerted effort to assist children with special needs. They work in association with the Church of Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky’s “Merciful Samaritan Foundation,” which cares for children with Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy.
“When we began to study the life of Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, his priority was orphans and those in need,” said Father Mykhailo Sukmanovskyi, a priest at the Church of Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky. “We've seen that people with special needs become orphans at an early stage, because in such families, parents tend to give up their children. Mostly men leave such families and the mother is left to raise the child herself. So it was very dear to our hearts that we could take on such activities.”
Yuriy Maletskyi, another Knight of Columbus who lives in Ukraine, sees the council’s efforts as a way to help children with special needs connect with others and combat loneliness.
“When we discussed with the Knights how to help families the main issue was that very often these children stay away from other children,” Maletskyi said. “They are not always perceived by society as equal members of this society.”
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