The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Eyes on Eastern Europe: Mudita
By Verdell Wright on June 1, 2023
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, more than 62,000 people have died, nearly 60,000 have been injured, and roughly 14 million have been displaced. UUSC immediately mobilized its resources in support of those who were impacted by the invasion, culminating in 10 partnerships with organizations in Eastern Europe. All of these organizations are committed to helping communities facing compounding forms of oppression during this conflict—meaning we focus our resources on communities who are already facing severe oppression even before the invasion (people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc.). This series will highlight those partners and the work they do.
When times become challenging, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses are often ignored. Their needs are overlooked even in the midst of extensive advocacy efforts. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine only made this problem worse. One can imagine that the stress and danger of war would only exacerbate this unfortunate reality. As the people from these communities fled danger, they had the added stress of wondering how their specific needs would be met. Since people with disabilities and chronic illnesses frequently experience greater difficulty in migrating even in peaceful times, Ukrainian refugees were not assured safety regardless of where they ended up.
Thankfully, Mudita is working to change the status quo. Mudita focuses on psychological and psychosocial support. Founded in 2019, the organization has implemented projects and programs to aid people with disabilities, who are vulnerable in the Polish social and health care systems. There are often few financial and material resources offered for support, social and institutional isolation takes its toll, and often, the daily struggles these communities encounter go overlooked.
Mudita also provides support for their families and career aspirations. The organization recognizes how key it is to support entire communities—families, caregivers, etc.—to make a lasting change. By providing support to caregivers, Mudita is strengthening entire networks and families.
Mudita was able to expand its services to people with disabilities fleeing Russian aggression. Here are a few of the programs dedicated to helping these communities:
- Bilingual Helpline: This helpline assists those looking for accessible housing, such as wheelchair-accessible homes and services for people with autism.
- Warsaw and Kraków Reception Points: These welcome stations are for those just arriving in Poland from Ukraine who need temporary shelter that fits their specific needs.
- Psychological Support: Mudita recognizes that these communities need mental health support for the trauma they are enduring as they maintain and navigate other forms of support.
Mudita’s long-term goal is to see people with disabilities and their families feel safe and secure, without worrying about how they will meet their material needs. They want to see caregivers have lives where they can relax, reduce their stress while caring for their loved ones. UUSC also wants to see this world, one where disability is not a barrier to equity.
Interested in supporting the work of Mudita and organizations like it? Donate to our Emergency Response Fund!
Image Credit: Mudita