In Russia, we maintain the Project Hope Fund that is used for emergency medical, dental, and pharmaceutical needs, mainly of the elderly. Those helped by the fund have no other resources to cover these health care costs. And most need only small amounts to pull through their emergencies.
Here’s how our fund works. Any elderly pensioner or other needy individual can present a note from the doctor, dentist, or pharmacist to one of our priests or to the Vladivostok parish bookkeeper. The note should show the needed procedure or medications, and the cost. We can easily verify the note and the financial situation of the bearer. (In addition to personally knowing the most destitute people in the area, we have multiple contacts throughout the medical and social services communities.) Our parish bookkeeper tracks the disbursements from the fund.
A small minority of Project Hope beneficiaries do promise to pay the fund back. This probably makes it easier for them to ask for help. But, knowing their poor means, we do not hold anyone to this promise. A few actually do give something back to the fund, but these amounts are not significant.
An example of one of our beneficiaries is Lidia. A retiree with minimal pension, she stays busy with humanitarian aid for orphans. She wants us to know that she isn’t getting a handout, but she always does something extra for the orphanages in exchange for money that she has received from the fund.
Another individual’s situation is described by Fr. Myron: “Poor people sacrifice their teeth in favor of their overall health. I just found out that a mother of six children has six teeth rotted and broken down to the gums. Thanks to [Project Hope], she will have those roots removed, and false teeth put in.”
After 20+ years, we now have a strong history of helping those in need. Recognizing this, the county health nurses, hospital administrators, orphanage directors, and even the city police often come to us for advice or assistance with social services. They also recommend to us people who are in dire situations.
The government does provide a minimal level of medical and dental insurance for its citizens, but it covers only a few basics. Everything else must be covered by the patient. The Russians themselves say that they have “the most expensive free medical care” in the world!
To help us out with the Project Hope Fund, click below.