The activities of the “St. Martin Caritas” County Charitable Foundation in Transcarpathia (Mukachevo, Ukraine)

Our institution was founded in 1999 in order to coordinate humanitarian aid and reconstruction after the Transcarpathian floods. Since then, we have established nearly 50 social and educational institutions in the territory of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Munkacs (free kitchens, family-type children's homes for orphans, rehabilitation centers, homes for the elderly, lyceums, dormitories, kindergartens, activities for the disabled, etc.) and we also contribute to their maintenance. Our activity map can be found on our website:

Our programs in 2022 were the next:

A general brief summary of our actions related to the war situation

  • The war in Ukraine has presented us with many new and unprecedented challenges. In ten months, we received nearly 300 humanitarian consignments, 70% of which were sent to Eastern Ukraine and 30% of which were distributed to refugees and people in need in Transcarpathia. We accommodated 1,250 refugees in 33 church buildings (dormitories, kindergartens, campsites, empty parishes, houses of worship), half of whom returned during the summer. Those who stayed have nowhere else to go. Yet some of them had to be asked to move to other places because it was essential to create the conditions for the resumption of education in the schools from September onwards after a long break. To do this, we had to renovate the run-down buildings (in total 22 buildings were/are being renovated - this included not only educational ones). As the air raids meant that the start of the school year in September was tied to the construction of shelters, for which the Ukrainian state had largely not allocated any resources, we also helped to build them in five of our educational institutions. The functioning of kindergartens and schools is vital for our homeland, without which a higher rate of emigration could start. Those who have left so far did so because of the panic, military mobilisation and economic difficulties at the beginning of the war. It is not uncommon to find children and adults with fathers, relatives or relatives at the front who find it very difficult to cope, especially those who have lost them. In the summer we set up a group of psychologists and we support another organisation that helps them regularly and organises programmes for them. As aid deliveries have been very low since the summer, we are looking for ways to continue to provide food, hygiene and warm clothing to refugees and local poor people in need. In recent weeks we have proposed the purchase of winter shoes for 1,400 people. As evacuations continue to be frequent in the east of the country, we have a number of projects with the dual aim of creating accommodation facilities and, in the longer term, the development of our institution. Most of these have already been implemented.
    The current situation is that in the last two months, infrastructure has been hit by bomb and rocket attacks in many places, and in Transcarpathia there have been power cuts in most of the settlements for 10-15-20 hours a day for many weeks (the situation was much less severe during the Christmas holidays but has since resumed), which in most cases means a lack of heat and water. We have been prepared all summer for no gas and to get on the electric as much as possible. Once everyone settled in that direction - no power. With the onset of winter and the cold weather, this is a particular problem for the majority of the population, but also for our institutions, who have not stopped in this situation but are doing their best to do their job and help those in need. It is also very important to help families with several children and elderly people - at least some of them - who are in difficulty. We are trying to provide inverters and batteries for the most needy places to ensure that there is continuous power for at least 5 hours after switching off. We are also trying to help with wood-burning stoves, firewood, battery-powered hand and table lamps. So far, we have supplied generators to nearly 30 institutions, but they are relatively expensive to run.

A slightly more detailed mention of some war-related programmes.

  • We have been working with various foreign organisations to help people in dire situations who have fled to us. In spring this year, we had a one-off programme as a first aid course, supported by ADRA. Within the framework of this project, we distributed more than 1,000 durable food packages throughout our county. Finally, we did not forget the World Children's Day. For them we distributed small "clever hands" packages. One of these packs contained: an interactive children's magazine with several pages, coloured paper, pencils, crayons, scissors, etc. This kept them busy.
  • Emergancy Appeal - one of our biggest programmes was made possible thanks to CARITAS - SPES. This program is still ongoing. Our mission- to help the refugees living in our different centres and in the different institutions of our county with their difficult daily lives. Thanks to this programme, we have been able to support the needy with ready-to-eat food boxes, cleaning products and detergents. We also encourage the provision of clothing and psychological support.
  • In the summer, we launched a programme called "Psychosocial support for refugees in Transcarpathia", which involved 7 of our centres. This programme was carried out in cooperation with CARITAS SPIS, Slovakia. We owe the idea and the financial support to them. The programme is run by a coordinator (who is also a psychologist), a psychologist and a military chaplain from Eastern Ukraine. In addition to group and private talks, various therapies, excursions and outdoor activities are organised. These include: equestrian therapy, harm therapy, dog therapy, bathing, excursions, exploring the more beautiful landscapes of Transcarpathia, etc.
  • Especially in the first weeks of the war, we received many donations of minibuses/cars in various forms to enable us to deliver and distribute aid.We did take advantage of these opportunities but there was also a need and the Bishopric, our county charity and several local charities received vehicles. On two occasions we even brokered cars to the military.
  • We were closely involved in getting the building of the former children's home in Serednje, which was vacant, leased for 5 years to the organisation "Ark of Peace", which was housing 26 refugee children who had moved here from Mariupol. We have renovated it and arranged for our local bakery to provide them with bread and rolls on a daily basis. We also help them in other ways. With the help of the Austrian Charity we have also renovated 6 other institutions where we have accommodated refugees.

In addition to the above, we continued with our usual programmes

  • Throughout the year, we continued the extraordinary crisis programme that we launched in the first months of 2015 in response to the sharp deterioration in the economic situation in Ukraine, which led to a visible increase in the number of people in need. Today this program is more actually more important than in previous years. In 2022, we helped a total of 6651 cases (about 1500 priority needy) in 67 municipalities, mainly with medicines (2 195 cases), winter fuel wood (431 cases), overheads (624 cases), food parcels (3205 cases), nappies for inpatients (186 cases) and other individual support (10 cases).
  • In 2022, we continued our kindergarten development programme, with 16 institutions receiving some form of support, including improvements, various investments, the creation of new kindergartens or the maintenance of kindergarten operations. The following municipalities have received support: Kindergarten in Mukachevo - we managed to settle the documents for the construction of the second wing and started the construction of the first floor of which is currently finished, in Vinogradovo we started and continued the renovation of the main building of the kindergarten (roof replacement, interior repairs, etc.) throughout the year, In Khust and Nevetlenfalju - construction of new kindergartens was completed (the last was opened, although with twice less children due to the war), Solotvino, Bustino, Velikij Bichkiv, Kobilecka Poljana - contribution to the maintenance of kindergartens, Rativtsi, Galoch - construction of playgrounds and maintenance of school buses in 6 places.
  • Helping addicts - in 2022, we will continue to organise 4 retreats for addicts in Hungarian
  • Prevention is also very important in addiction. This should already start at school, which is why we have launched a programme aimed at preventing the development of addiction. Within the framework of the programme, our staff will visit schools and give lectures to older children on addiction, its causes and fatal consequences. Unfortunately, as our former staff member who did this work very well moved to Hungary, we had to find a new person and she only started working in the last part of the year, which meant 6 school presentations. We hope to get this programme back on track next year.
  • Helping patients - the programme supports surgery for children and adults from poor families. In 2022, we were able to contribute directly from our head office to the cost of treatment or surgery for 46 sick children and adults.
  • We contributed to the administration of applications for our local social and educational institutions in Yasinja, Kobilecka Poljana, Velikij Bichkiv, Berehovo, Uzhhorod, Solotvino, children's homes in Velikij Bereznij and Perechin, and other institutions. Among other things, this has resulted in the maintenance of the four kindergartens in the Upper Tisa region and many other institutions and programmes (soup kitchens, school buses, rehabilitation centres, etc.).
  • A scholarship programme for talented but poor Catholic students from Transcarpathia studying in higher education institutions in Ukraine. Our call for applications has been published every six months for 15 years. In the spring of 2022, we provided scholarships to 28 students, and in the autumn to 23 students. Some of the students are repeating their studies as we try to help them through to the end of their studies. The number of students is lower than usual because of the war, but there was also less funding.
  • The candle workshop in Khust continues to operate. Although in the past the situation with the coronavirus and the Russian-Ukrainian war made the work of the candle workshop difficult, the wounded people are more sensitive and it was more difficult and less frequent to meet them. But fortunately, since the autumn, the small institution has got a new impetus and we are trying to bring them back to normal operating.
  • In Rativtsi, we have been involved in coordinating and assisting with the rehabilitation centre that has been built.
  • In the past year, we have provided small support to the Pro-life programme. In 2022, the programme continued to operate as in previous years: they organised pastoral care for women who had undergone abortions, appeared regularly on local TV, taught solar technology to childless couples, ran a telephone hotline, held spiritual talks with people in crisis, etc.
  • As founders, we dealt with the various difficulties arising from the activities of the St. Stephen's Lyceum in Mukachevo. At present, there are fewer - only 40 students. Among other things, we have been responsible for the students' travel concession scheme, the financial solution for the teaching of optional subjects, and we have also taken on founding tasks. We have succeeded in finding a new deputy director to replace the former one and the institution is now well on the road to development.
  • In 2022, we were also responsible for the finances, tenders and some level of coordination of the charitable work in the six gypsy camps (Beregujfalu, Homok, Koncovo, Galoch, Paushino, Viskovo). As in previous years, this year we continued our programmes for the residents of the Roma camps, aiming at the integration and assistance of the Roma communities. In 2022, the following programmes were implemented: excursions, camps, back-to-school programme, seed programme, firewood programme, day care in Paushino, Homok, Koncovo and Galoch, medical assistance (organising hospital admissions, giving injections in Roma homes, etc.), and the provision of medical assistance (organising hospital admissions, etc.). We continued the programme of feeding children in the soup kitchens in Homok, Koncovo, Paushino, Viskovo and Galoch.
  • We have helped to maintain our church colleges in Mukachevo and two in Uzhhorod. We also contributed to some extent to the maintenance of the two dormitories in Berehovo.
  • In 2022, we also contributed to the preparation of tenders for the maintenance and development of the "Second Home". The aim of the programme is to support street children and children in difficult circumstances.
  • We are also involved in a programme from Slovakia that will result in Slovak families providing financial support to children (mainly school children) in need in Transcarpathia.
  • In January 2022, we opened another family-type home in Velikij Bereznij, where we helped to renovate the building.
  • Since September, we have been involved in the renovation of a new children's home in Perechin. Sister Antonia has solved impossible situations (no water for years, no documentation for the house, no heating system) and has also quickly found foster parents (last search in Rativtsi took 2 years) who are planning to take in 6 children soon (refugees and local orphans).

We ask all good people, oganisations for continuing support of our work and thank you for all help so far! 


Ferenc Fehér


Mukachevo, 04.01.2023.